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Globe and Mail Focus On Applied Research

March 31, 2011

The following article on Red River College’s Office of Applied Research & Commercialization was recently featured in a special section in The Globe and Mail about innovation. To download a copy of the complete feature, click here.
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Red River College opens third research centre
At Winnipeg’s Red River College (RRC), the definition of applied research is short and sweet: the use of knowledge to solve real-world challenges.
For Ray Hoemsen, director of the college’s Office of Applied Research and Commercialization, applied research is also a key element in improving Canada’s productivity and innovation capacity.
That’s why his office provides support for applied research, knowledge transfer, prototyping, product development, testing and commercialization – helping business and industry access RRC’s expertise in the search for practical, innovative solutions.
“For us, it’s all about applying knowledge to deliver results. The how is more important than the why,” says Mr. Hoemsen.
In recognition of RRC’s efforts, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) awarded the college $2.3 million to establish a Sustainable Infrastructure Technology Research Group focused on improving the energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings.
With three independent research centres now open or in development, RRC is well positioned to continue making significant contributions to technology innovation in Manitoba and beyond. For example, the Centre for Applied Research in Sustainable Infrastructure (CARSI) is the first dedicated research laboratory at a college in Manitoba. Its aim is to develop advanced sustainable infrastructure technologies in four strategic areas: asphalt, concrete and pavement; advanced composite materials; large, light-frame wood structures; and building envelopes.
On one of its first projects, CARSI worked with Manitoba Hydro to ensure that the utility’s new, $278-million downtown Winnipeg headquarters would be the most energy-efficient building in North America.
At CARSI, Manitoba Hydro was able to try new technologies and materials before constructing the 22-storey office complex. In the process, CARSI gained a valuable long-term client and gave its students hands-on experience.
Mr. Hoemsen says RRC’s objective is innovation rather than invention. “We are constantly looking for better ways to do things and to adapt and apply existing technology more effectively.”
The college maintains ownership of the intellectual property it develops so that it can continue to be used for the benefit of students and faculty, but the companies that call on RRC to solve problems get to implement the solutions for themselves.
Mr. Hoemsen says working on real-world challenges not only gives students an opportunity to experience what they will face when they enter the workforce, but also give them a distinct advantage in their job hunt.
“To be able to recruit college grads who have already worked on and solved problems that employers are familiar with means our students are that much further ahead than job applicants who have not had the same experience,” he says.
The college also established the Centre for Aerospace Technology and Training, the Centre for Non-Destructive Inspection and is developing the Advanced Transportation and Energy Centre.