Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre Team

Neil Wilkinson, Research Program Manager, WAMIC

Neil Wilkinson is the Research Program Manager with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre. Neil rejoins Niagara College with 8-years in leadership roles in college applied research offices. During that time, he developed and managed applied research teams and projects that provided innovative new products and solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses in the agriculture, food and beverage, advanced manufacturing, and digital health sectors. Working collaboratively with key stakeholders, Neil has written proposals for research grants for Niagara College and Mohawk College.  

An eclectic career with experiences in laboratories, entrepreneurship, marketing research, and software programming means Neil brings a breadth of experience as a product developer, service provider, and end customer to his work. Neil’s passions are supporting small- and medium-sized business on their innovation journeys to commercial success and working with early career professionals and watching them grow into well-rounded leaders.    

Neil holds an MBA in Innovation Leadership from the Sandermoen School of Business at the University of Fredericton, an Ontario Graduate Certificate in Research Analysis from Georgian College, and a BSc in Applied Biochemistry from Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom.   

Research Program Manager, WAMIC
Welland Campus

Dr. Mike Duncan is the Research Chair, Computer Technology with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre. In the 11 years prior to this move, Mike and his team developed a number of enterprise level data processing portals for various purposes. These portals were designed to allow users to input data, store it, and manipulate it to create outputs relevant to their needs. For example, Mike currently leads a team working on solutions for agriculture partner, SoilOptix®. 

Mike has been a steady leader and mentor throughout many of the projects he has worked on. He patiently trains the students as Research Assistants, and supports them when they eventually become graduates working in their respective fields. His focus is to enable students to work on projects where they are going to learn and grow and become a better student and eventually, working professional.   

At Niagara College, Mike founded the Centre for Advanced Visualization (CFAV), a research group dedicated to exploring the use of virtual reality (VR) for urban and land use visualization. He received one of the first large grants ever awarded to colleges, when the Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT) invested more than $330,000 in CFAV. He also received one of six NSERC Community College Innovation Pilot Program grants awarded across Canada. In 2006, CFAV Inc. was incorporated to pursue private contracts, so Mike then founded the Augmented Reality Research Centre (ARRC) to continue research into VR and to expand its use into other areas such as precision agriculture. 

Mike holds his PhD, MSc, and BSc in Physics from McGill University and a Post Doc in Remote Sensing from the University of Utah. Mike held the position of NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges (IRCC) in Precision Agriculture & Environmental Technologies from 2012 to 2023. 


Research Chair, Computer Technology
Welland Campus

Dave Lawson is the Advanced Manufacturing Scientist with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC).

In this role, Dave will be responsible for leading applied research projects and supporting the technical services team.

After more than 25 years of progressive roles in the automotive switch industry with Nidec Mobility Canada (formerly Omron Automotive Technologies), Dave has “retired” to Niagara from the Oakville area and is eager to apply his technical experiences in product development; automotive and aerospace; electromechanical design; and materials and process engineering, along with his strategic planning and customer relationship management experience at WAMIC.

During his time at Nidec Mobility Canada, Dave acted as the industry partner on collaborative research projects with the University of Waterloo and mentored student teams, so he will bring the customer/client perspective to WAMIC as well as his ability to help students gain real-world knowledge in the industry.

Dave holds a diploma in Mechanical Engineering Technology (Design Option) from Mohawk College, as well as several other certificates in various leadership, training, and business courses.

Advanced Manufacturing Scientist, WAMIC
Welland Campus

Brian Klassen is the Research Laboratory Technician with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC). In his role, he supports all research and technical service activities related to producing and testing prototypes, evaluating new technologies and developing new or improved products or processes for small- and medium-sized businesses. Brian is a graduate of Niagara College’s Electronics Engineering Technology (Co-op) program and has worked in the research labs at both WAMIC and the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre (AETIC). He is also a partial-load professor teaching electronic fabrication skills.


Research Laboratory Technologist
Welland Campus
Joshua Bunz - Research & Development Technologist

Joshua Bunz is the Research & Development Technologist with the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC).  

In his role, Josh supports all laboratory, applied research, and technical service activities related to mechanical engineering. He trains students and graduate employees, along with staff and researchers, on standard and specialized equipment and processes. He also participates in creating, maintaining and updating maintenance-related standard operating procedures (SOPs).  

Joshua is a graduate of Niagara College’s Mechanical Engineering Technologist program, as well as a graduate of Brock University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. 

With more than 12 years in the field, Josh has extensive experience in mechanical engineering, quality control, and managing teams to establish a lean manufacturing culture. 

In addition, Josh is a Level 1 Welding Inspector certified to CSA Welding Standard W178.2 and is Six Sigma Yellow Belt certified through the American Society for Quality (ASQ). 

Research & Development Technologist
Welland Campus
David Stovell, Research Lead at WAMIC

David Stovell is the Research Lead for the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre and is the Program Coordinator and Professor for the Computer Programmer and Computer Programmer Analyst program at Niagara College (NC). He has been teaching for over 30 years – 24 of those years being at NC. David studied math and physics at the University of Toronto and holds a Certificate from Georgian College in Teaching and Training Adults. David is a member of NC’s Program Advisory Committees for Computer Programming and Analysis and Computer Programming programs.

In his role as Research Lead with WAMIC, he helps companies adopt digital technologies, specifically web-based database applications. Through the Community Sponsored Project course, Dave has led student teams to create and deploy inventory management applications, document management systems and custom Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools.

Previous to his teaching career, David held the positions of Nuclear Reactor Operator, Health Physics Instructor, Computer Programmer, Database Developer and Computer Hardware Service Technician. Currently, he is active as a consultant in the software development industry, specializing in catering management software for hotels and convention centers.

Some of his most notable programming projects include: a Work Process Tracking system for SoilOptix®,  customizing the CRM (constituent relationship management) software for the offices of the Solicitor General of Canada; sales prospecting and operational management software for Tangerine Concepts in St. Catharines, Ontario; development of solutions for several credit unions across Ontario and Prince Edward Island to solve issues they encountered with legacy system integration.

Research Lead
Welland Campus
Marcus Riganelli, Research Lead, Mechanical Engineering Technology

Marcus Riganelli is the Research Lead, Mechanical Engineering Technology for the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre. In addition to his role at WAMIC, Marcus is the Owner/Mechanical Engineer at Riganelli Design Inc., operating since 2019.

In his role as Research Lead, Mechanical Engineering Technology with WAMIC, he helps companies develop new electro-mechanical products leading his research teams through ideation, design, prototype development and testing.

His previous work experience includes roles at L3Harris Wescam, THK Rhythm Automotive Canada, and Girotti Machine, all with a focus as a mechanical engineer.

Marcus is a founding member and senior vice-president for the McMaster Design League. In this role from 2017-2019, he developed coursework and led weekly workshops teaching CAD and design. He led a team of 8 junior members to teach additional topics and organized a yearly Hackathon-style design competition.

Marcus is a graduate of McMaster University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering & Management (Co-op).

Research Lead
Welland Campus

Rick Baldin doesn’t like to hear pessimistic talk about the state of manufacturing in Niagara.

The Research & Innovation faculty lead knows first-hand there are plenty of opportunities for skilled workers, and plenty of partnership possibilities for industry with Niagara College.

The former GM engineering team leader has been putting his skills to the test in Niagara’s advanced manufacturing division, working on projects that develop efficient, quality-driven processes.

His past coaching and managing teams of engineers, tradespeople, and production workers, ensuring all objectives are met under strict timelines, translates well into his role in the Technology Research Lab.

“Companies call us, instead of consultants, because consultants will give you a report, but we will actually come in and work with that company on a project to implement something that works.”

What’s more, the new processes are implemented without interrupting the existing manufacturing systems.

For example, Baldin’s team recently worked on a LEAN manufacturing workcell project with Calhoun Sportswear. The old way involved shipping bulk quantities to large suppliers, but with an e-commerce plan came the need to promptly respond to one-time custom online orders. Baldin and his student research assistant were able to research, develop and implement the system, which reduced labour requirements while still allowing next-day delivery of custom-built products.

In all projects, Baldin says he adheres to five metrics: safety, quality, people (working with industry partners), responsiveness (meeting deadlines) and cost efficiency.

Baldin, who holds a Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Mechanical Engineering, has taught at Niagara College since 2008. Courses include Dynamics, Manufacturing Processes, Materials Technology, Physics, Machine Design, Quality Improvement Tools, Health and Safety for Technology, and Computer Applications.

Much of Baldin’s spare time is spent either coaching competitive soccer or watching his two sons play in youth sports.

Faculty Research Lead, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Welland Campus

In his role as co-ordinator in the new Renewable Energies Technician program, Bryan Mewhiney makes sure he practices what he preaches, carving out time for research projects that are heavily integrated with local industry.

From developing the capacity to test the thermal resistance of insulating materials for the construction industry, to developing a new method of solar-power generation, Mewhiney devotes many of his waking hours to creating a greener future.

As co-ordinator of the Renewable Energies Technician program – which saw its first graduates one year ago – he invests time in developing the curriculum, working with the lab trainers and delivering courses.

As part of the research team at the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, Mewhiney has worked with student research assistants to oversee the development of the electrical control systems for several projects. Recent industry partners have included Papernuts, for whom Research & Innovation developed a dispensing machine prototype; Durham Foods, a hydroponics company that wanted to automate part of its harvest operations; and Ryan IT, a Grimsby-based machine fabricator which also came to Research & Innovation for prototype development.

“Being involved on a practical level with our industry partners and their projects ideas has allowed me the opportunity to really engage our students both inside the classroom, while also offering them exciting and rewarding employment opportunities outside the classroom,” Mewhiney notes.

With his commitment to sustainable energy sources, Mewhiney is currently investigating the possibility of installing solar panels above his office space, so that he may run his computer, coffee maker and desk lamps on solar energy only.

Before coming to Niagara College, Mewhiney worked for a climate control company, gaining invaluable experience with design, building and testing a climate control automation panel for greenhouses, one of which is installed at the Niagara College Teaching Greenhouse.

He is a graduate of Niagara College’s Electrical Engineering Technology (Co-op) program.

When not working on these projects or teaching, he somehow also finds time to work on classic cars, and go camping in provincial parks.

Faculty Research Lead, Electronics Technology
Welland Campus