NSERC announces $1.75 million renewal for Niagara College Technology Access Centre Grant to enhance advanced manufacturing excellence through Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre

Brock Husak at WAMIC scanning a part

Brock Husak at WAMIC scanning a part

Thanks to continued investment from the federal government, Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) will further provide its state-of-the-art services to advanced manufacturing and technology companies wishing to innovate, grow and compete in the global marketplace.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has awarded a $1.75 million renewal of Technology Access Centre (TAC) funding for WAMIC, part of the Research & Innovation division, for another five years, at $350,000 per year. The renewal grant is through NSERC’s College and Community Innovation (CCI) program.

The Honourable Yasir Naqvi, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Ryan Turnbull, Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry on behalf of the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry, announced funding of more than $30 million to colleges, CEGEPs and polytechnics across the country. The investment will allow these academic institutions to partner with local companies to provide them with unique technological or process solutions, laboratories and equipment, and highly trained students who are career ready.

“Whether it’s through discovery or applied research, these recipients have the potential to reveal unexpected findings and have a significant impact on our society and well-being,” said Professor Alejandro Adem, FRSC, President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), in a press release from the Government of Canada. “Today’s announcement provides funding for the full gamut of research impact, from the earliest stages of discovery to the final stages of bringing innovations to communities. It also provides support to inspire students in their most formative years, and to spur our research leaders to even greater success.”

Housed at colleges or cégeps across Canada, and supported by the Tech-Access Canada network, Canada’s 64 Technology Access Centres (TACS) provide access to specialized technology, equipment, and expertise to local industry – particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – with the goal of enhancing their productivity and innovation.

The WAMIC, located at Niagara College’s Welland Campus, has positioned itself as a leading-edge technology accelerator able to solve complex industry challenges. The team of experts in complex manufacturing technologies, Industrial Internet of Things, and precision measurement capabilities, alongside students, offer SMEs innovative solutions from concept to product or process improvement.

“This renewal ensures that our student research assistants, who work alongside our experts and industry partners, will continue to access and participate in trailblazing research and development at Niagara College – an opportunity that provides unparalleled career-ready advantages,” said Niagara College President, Sean Kennedy.

“This is exciting news, as it allows us to further our delivery of high-quality services to area SMEs, in order to enhance their global competitiveness,” said Marc Nantel, PhD, Vice-President, Research, Innovation and Strategic Enterprises at Niagara College. “We are able to better serve the innovation needs of these companies who may have had difficulty developing new products and services for lack of affordable research expertise, equipment, and facilities.”

This is the third five-year grant for WAMIC, which has served approximately 275 businesses with more than 400 technical services and 150 applied research projects through its first two TAC grants. More than 170 students – from the College’s programs in Mechanical Engineering Technologist, Mechanical Engineering Technician, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Programming – have gained hands-on research experience at the Centre to provide a wealth of innovative solutions to industry partners.

Thanks to the opportunities for such research project collaborations, Airbus, a global leader in aeronautics, space, and related services, has partnered with WAMIC on several recent technical services. Not only have they completed work to help them keep their business running efficiently, but they also reap the benefits from NC as WAMIC serves as a talent pipeline for them

“For Airbus, it’s a capacity issue. We’re busy dealing with technical and manufacturing issues on a day-to-day basis, and these are the types of projects that can take a few weeks to complete,” said Brock Husak, Manufacturing Project Engineer, Airbus and a Niagara College, Research & Innovation alumni. “By outsourcing projects like this, we can keep our focus on production as the tool/fixture is designed. I knew this was a perfect fit for WAMIC, so we called upon them to be our extra set of hands.”

“At WAMIC, the learning never stopped, and I think that was the main fun factor,” Husak added as he reflected on his time working with Research & Innovation. “It can be overwhelming at times, but I feel like the most learning happens through those overwhelming times.”

The Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre offers a suite of services using leading-edge technology, including equipment and software, as well as expert staff to support industry innovation and commercialization of new products and processes. Current service offerings include digital manufacturing, precision metrology, prototype design and development, and process improvement. In all cases, the intellectual property developed during the project belongs to the industry partner. 

NC’s award-winning Research & Innovation division provides real-world solutions for business, key industry sectors, and the community through applied research and knowledge transfer activities. Researchers conduct projects that provide innovative solutions, such as producing and testing prototypes, evaluating new technologies, and developing new or improved products or processes for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Niagara College has a full-time enrolment of more than 11,000 students from over 95 countries, who study in 130 diploma, certificate and bachelor degree programs at specialized campuses in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara College is also involved in educational projects and partnerships around the world and is ranked Canada’s No.1 research college. Learn more at niagaracollege.ca.



Quick Facts

  • • NC is home to two Technology Access Centres. The TAC at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre at the Welland Campus was established in 2014 thanks to a grant from NSERC, with its first renewal granted in 2019. The Food & Beverage Innovation Centre TAC was established at the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake in 2016 and was renewed as a TAC for another five years in 2021, thanks to a grant from NSERC.
  • • WAMIC has 7,000 square feet of dedicated lab space at the Welland Campus. Equipment highlights include 3D design software, a unique workshop with a small CNC mill, an electronics workshop, Faro scanners, a Creaform HandySCAN black, Fortus machines, FormLabs machines and more.
  • • The research team at the WAMIC TAC works with faculty experts and students from several NC programs – including Mechanical Engineering Technologist, Mechanical Engineering Technician, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Programming.

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