Mechanical engineering grad never stops learning

Mike Granton is a 2017 graduate of Niagara College’s Mechanical Engineering Technologist program. He did his co-op with the Research & Innovation division’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre as a research assistant and was then hired as research associate after graduating. He also graduated from NC’s Computer Engineering Technology/Technician program in 2003. Mike is employed with Grimsby-based Jantz Canada as a mechanical designer.

Tell us about where you work:
I work for Jantz Canada in Grimsby, Ontario. We design and build conveyors, automation and robotics systems, with a focus on the food industry.

Describe your role and what you like about it:
The bulk of my job involves design work, whether it be modifications and improvements to existing systems, or brand-new designs from the ground up. I’m responsible for creating drawings for our manufacturing department and ensuring they have all the information required to build our equipment efficiently. I create and manage bills of materials for projects in order to keep track of all purchased parts and outside work required to get a project done on time. I conduct research into new technologies relevant to our industry. And, I am involved in prototype design, testing and reporting.

How has your experience with Research & Innovation helped prepare you for your current role?
My Research & Innovation experience has helped me in several ways. The research portion of the projects I was involved in taught me how to seek out relevant and useful information in order to solve a problem.

This is something I do on a daily basis and it is an invaluable tool in my current job. Another important part of my experience was my involvement in the project management and planning phases of each project. I still use similar time management guidelines that I learned at R&I to budget my time across multiple projects.

A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?
One of my most memorable research projects was the motorized window cleaning brush I designed. This was my first project at R&I. What made this project so memorable was the feeling of accomplishment after seeing through my design from research stage to finished working prototype. I still feel that same kind of accomplishment today, but this project in particular made it clear that I had made the right decision to enroll in the Mechanical Engineering Technologist program.

“Seeing my first original design – a 20-ft-tall conveyor, fully assembled in our shop and reaching to the ceiling – was a great feeling that filled me with a lot of pride.”

You were already a Niagara College graduate; what led you back?
I remember seeing an article in the paper about a road-paving machine that was designed by students at Niagara College in the Research Department. At the time, I just thought it was neat to see that kind of work being done at the college. A year or two later I found myself wanting a change in career and I remembered that article and I thought it would be a great experience to be part of a similar type project. That’s what ultimately drove my decision to go to NC.

Most memorable experience at NC?
My most memorable experiences at NC would be the opportunities to speak in front of politicians and members of the press as a representative of Niagara College and Research & Innovation. These experiences brought me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to develop my public speaking skills and generally make me more open to experiences I would have avoided in the past.

Mike Granton, then an NC Mechanical Engineering student and research assistant with WAMIC, gets the chance to speak at the funding announcement of the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI) by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) in 2016.

A faculty member who influenced you?
One particular faculty member that influenced me was Costa Aza. He played a big part in my decision to apply at R&I before my first co-op term was about to start. His enthusiasm and interest in new technologies and methods related to mechanical engineering piqued my interest in the types of projects being done at R&I.

The majority of the projects I worked on at R&I were also led by Costa. He was always encouraging and allowed me to take the lead in terms of design choices and the general direction of a project while still providing enough leadership to help me avoid mistakes and poor choices.

What advice would you impart on current research students or future alumni?
Never stop learning. Your education doesn’t end once you graduate and begin your career. In fact, it’s only just beginning.

After being in the workforce, what have you learned?
One of the main things I’ve learned is to have respect and learn from the experience of my colleagues. There have been many times where I’ve been able to solve a problem or avoid a costly mistake by simply getting the input and advice from others.

Proudest achievement since graduating?
Seeing my first original design – a 20-ft-tall conveyor, fully assembled in our shop and reaching to the ceiling – was a great feeling that filled me with a lot of pride. It was my first real project at Jantz that I worked on from start to finish.

Interests outside of work?
Most of my interests outside of work revolve around music in some way. Whether I’m playing guitar or drums or restoring old tube guitar amps.

If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?
It’s never too late for a change!

Anything else you want to say?
Leaving a steady career to go back to school and start fresh was a scary experience at first. I knew if I stuck to it and worked hard, it would ultimately turn into a good experience. But I had no idea how great of an experience it would turn out to be. I met and worked with so many great people at Research & Innovation and the College in general. I’m proud to have been a part of the team at R&I and the work that we did. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about my experience at Niagara College and Research & Innovation.

To learn more about the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre and its capabilities, click HERE.



Innovation in Action

Through applied research activities, Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division is preparing the workforce with the right know–how by providing an array of researcher expertise, supported by leading-edge facilities, technology and equipment. See how graduates and R&I alumni are applying their skills and knowledge in the real world.