orange iconOperational Response Level: Restricted ›
Research Partnerships and Innovation

Research Partnerships & Innovation

Partnerships

RRC and Winnipeg Transit partnership helps bridge e-bus training gap

May 28, 2021

The rise of clean tech and electric vehicles is much more than a trend – it represents a long-term, sustainable solution to lessening environmental impact by reducing emissions and fuel consumption. As industries adopt electric vehicles, the need for specialized training has increased. The Vehicle Technology & Energy Centre (VTEC) at Red River College (RRC) is a hub for applied research, technical services as well as training for electric and hybrid vehicles. 

“RRC was part of the Joint Task Force on Transit Electrification, which assessed the economics and the greenhouse gas emission profiles for electric transit buses (e-buses) relative to diesel buses,” says Jose (Jojo) Delos Reyes, Research Manager, VTEC. “One key component of integrating e-buses into the current fleet is providing training. This is where we saw an opportunity to approach Winnipeg Transit about supplemental training courses.”

Currently New Flyer Industries (New Flyer) provides an intensive e-bus course to transit maintenance technicians across North America. While this training is immersive, the VTEC team saw a need for reskilling and upskilling transit mechanics and technicians in preparation for the New Flyer course. 

“For those who have previous experience working with electric buses or vehicles, they may be able to jump right into the manufacturer training. However, a diesel mechanic who has never worked on an electric vehicle, for example, may benefit greatly from supplemental learning,” says Delos Reyes.

A group from the RRC transportation department took the New Flyer e-bus course to determine where knowledge gaps might exist and what information and training would be a beneficial precursor to this course. The overall goal was to develop specialized training to prepare technicians and set them up for success.

After identifying the gap and demonstrating the need for specialized training, VTEC worked closely with RRC transportation department members Tom Grant, Chair of Transportation Heavy Apprenticeships and Trades, Ken Friesen, Program Manager, Dietrich Schellenberg, Academic Coordinator, and Leonard Wiens, Apprenticeship Instructor, to develop the “Intro to Electric Bus Technology” course in collaboration with Winnipeg Transit.

The Intro to Electric Bus Technology course is composed of three one-week modules, focusing on safety aspects, knowledge of electrical fundamentals, and interpreting data communications.

“The transition to electrification brings a rapid shift in safety and technology that our technicians need to be prepared for. This course will introduce technicians to the high voltage electric vehicle systems needed to support both battery electric and fuel-cell battery electric vehicle technologies, and prepare them for the more in-depth manufacturer training,” says Eric Rensfelt, Vehicle Systems Supervisor, Winnipeg Transit. “Safety is paramount, and technicians will need to be comfortable working with the new technology, as well as be able to diagnosis the complex systems through Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) programming and ladder logic. The partnership between Winnipeg Transit and Red River College resulting from this course is the first step in this process.”

The first RRC e-bus training course was slated to start in May 2020, but due to the pandemic, the brakes were temporarily put on the project. 

Students learning in a classroom at RRC

This spring, the first group of trainees completed The Intro to Electric Bus Technology course. As highlighted in the course description: completing this course will provide the strong electrical foundation required for transit technicians to successfully complete the in-depth manufacturer electric bus training, and in turn upskill members of Manitoba’s workforce.

RRC works with Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery to help build Canada back better

March 4, 2021

Red River College is proud to be a founding member of Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery (C2R2), a group of climate-action leading colleges, Cégeps, institutions, and polytechnics from across Canada who have joined forces to educate a post-pandemic workforce to support a new climate-focused economic recovery.

C2R2 champions projects across Canada to:

  • support a recovery that delivers good jobs
  • positively impact for the environment, and
  • address socio-economic inequality.

By working together, colleges can help lead the transition to a clean economy. With a vision to build back better from the COVID-19 crisis, colleges are positioned to quickly develop thousands of training and research opportunities to help Canadians access good jobs, support the transition to the low carbon economy, and foster inclusion, diversity, and equity.

Alignment with current research programs

Through the leadership of Research Partnerships & Innovation, RRC has existing research programs that align with the coalition’s focus goals, such as RRC’s extensive electric vehicle applied research experience – particularly cold-weather performance, battery-pack redesign, redevelopment, and secondary use.

RRC’s Building Efficiency Technology Access Centre (BETAC) provides relevant industry training and applied research. BETAC has an array of specialized equipment that can enable and support energy efficient buildings.

C2R2 is working together to support the rapid development and deployment of new curriculum and research initiatives to support resilience in our towns and cities across Canada.

Follow along with C2R2 at resilientcolleges.ca.

Keeping spirits bright and alcohol-free with Solbrü!

December 21, 2020

Looking for a made in Manitoba mocktail this holiday season? Why not try a “Sol’d-Fashioned,” a non-alcoholic twist on the classic Old-Fashioned, featuring the tasty plant-based elixir Solbrü – a new product from Winnipeg entrepreneur Leanne Kisil!

Over the past few years, up-scale alcohol free products have been a hot trend on the bartender circuit. Customers have been looking for sophisticated sober options when enjoying a night out rather than sip on soft drinks or Shirley Temples. Leanne wanted to create something different, fun and healthy. She approached the Prairie Research Kitchen team with an idea to develop an alcohol-free product to replace a bourbon or whisky experience. The Prairie Research Kitchen team of culinary and food science specialists enthusiastically set to work balancing flavours in her recipe, while providing direction in creating a shelf-stable, ready-to-drink (or mix) beverage.

The product launched in May this year, and is now carried in 30 retailers across the country – setting the stage for work on an expansion product in the future!

The Sol’d Fashioned

  • 2 oz Solbrü Restore (shaken before served)
  • Alcohol-free Abiding Citizen Citrus bitters
  • Maraschino Cherries
  • Navel Orange slice

Directions:

  • “Shake to wake” the SolBru elixir.
  • Pour 2 oz of Solbru into a short cocktail glass or “rocks glass”
  • Add one tablespoon of maraschino cherry juice.
  • Add two drops of Abiding Citizen Citrus bitters. Stir.
  • Add ice. For fun, you can freeze cranberries or orange slices into large ice cubes or ice globes.
  • Garnish the glass with a half orange slice and maraschino cherry.
  • Mix all ingredients to combine, and enjoy!

Check out the video below for a demonstration of the recipe, plus the background story behind Solbrü.

Collaboration with KAP and UM is ready to roll: Mini Training Tractor revealed

July 16, 2020

A collaboration between the University of Manitoba (UM), Red River College (RRC) and Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) driven by the need for an agricultural safety training tool, has produced a unique vehicle that will help predict, teach and demonstrate tractor roll overs.

The Mini Roll Over Training Tractor (Mini ROTT) was demonstrated at the UM’s Glenlea Research Station on July 16. Approximately the size of an average lawn tractor but with the appearance of a traditional tractor, the radio-controlled Mini ROTT will be used for teaching and demonstration of roll overs and activities that will enhance students’ and farmers’ understanding of farm safety practices.

“Keystone Agricultural Producers is proud to be a part of the roll over training tractor (ROTT) project through our Manitoba Farm Safety Program,” says Bill Campbell, President, KAP. “We look forward to using this innovative tool to further promote the need for safety awareness and training across our sector to reduce the risk of serious injury in the operation of tractors and large equipment on farms across the province. The partnership we have forged with the University of Manitoba and Red River College shows the importance of our industry to this province and showcases some of the brightest minds and ingenuity we have here in Manitoba.”

The project was initiated by the UM’s Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences to supplement hands-on safety workshops developed for diploma students and farmers.  The UM teamed up with KAP’s Manitoba Farm Safety Program staff to explore the concept of a remote-controlled tractor as an interactive training tool for teaching roll over prevention strategies.

“The Faculty, especially the farm safety training leaders in our School of Agriculture, are keenly engaged in farm safety training, both for our students and for our wider agricultural community,” says Martin Scanlon, Dean, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, UM. “We were excited to partner with Keystone Agricultural Producers and Red River College to create this novel training tool that will assist the University of Manitoba in delivering potentially life-saving knowledge to the next generation of Manitoba producers. This project underlines the high value and mutual benefit of collaboration with talented industry partners and other educational institutions.”

UM and KAP then engaged with RRC’s Technology Access Centre for Aerospace & Manufacturing (TACAM) and Vehicle Technology & Energy Centre (VTEC) for the fabrication process. The research staff at TACAM designed and built the tractor, with support from the VTEC team on the electronics and systems control components.

“Working with Keystone Agricultural Producers and the University of Manitoba on the roll over training tractor (ROTT) is the perfect demonstration of the value of applied research: providing tangible solutions to real-world problems,” says Fred Meier, President & CEO, RRC. “The ROTT highlights the skill and expertise of our TACAM and VTEC teams, and now that we’ve created this first product we’re excited to explore similar projects in the future. We’re proud to play a role in farm safety awareness and supporting the agriculture industry in Manitoba.”

Going forward, the Mini ROTT will be housed at the Glenlea Research Station and utilized for farm safety training for post-secondary students and Manitoba farmers. The Manitoba Farm Safety Program and UM staff plan to collaborate on expanded tractor training and develop programs aimed at creating a safer agri-food industry.

Funding for the project came from a variety of sources, including the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences Endowment Fund, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada through Red River College’s TACAM and VTEC-Innovation Enhancement grants, and Keystone Agricultural Producers.

Spilling the Beans: to salt or not to salt?

June 4, 2020

When it comes to cooking beans, the subject of salt has long been contentious. Traditionally, the belief has been you should not add salt to the beans until after they are cooked or else they’ll have an unpleasant, grainy texture. Many culinary experts still opt to use salt, but disagree on when it should be added or in what amount.

Properly cooked beans have a slightly firm bite and a smooth, creamy texture that is not watery or gritty. They should appear shiny with bright colour and not be broken when cooked. The flavour should be earthy and not salty.

The Culinary Research team at Red River College used a combination of scientific process and culinary knowledge to test various combinations in search of the perfect bean. This article highlights their findings regarding how salt addition and water hardness affect the cook times, flavour, texture and appearance of five bean types.

COOKING WITH SALT

SOAKING BEANS IN SALT BRINE

When cooking beans from dry, salt can be added to the soak water to improve the quality and cooking time. Following cooking trials, it was found that beans soaked in a 2% salt brine* had reduced cooking time, as well as improved cooked flavour and texture compared to soaking in distilled water.

*Prepare 2% salt brine by adding 2.5 teaspoons (15g) of salt to 3 cups of water, stir until fully dissolved.

COOKING BEANS IN SALTED WATER

In cooking trials, the researchers added 0, 1, 2 and 3% quantities of salt to cooking water after a 24-hour soaking period at room temperature. They found that beans cooked in 1-2% salted water had reduced cooking times, compared to unsalted water*.

*Prepare 1% salted cooking water by adding 1.5-2 teaspoons (10 g) to 4 cups of fresh, distilled boiling water.

Prepare 2% salted cooking water by adding 3.5 teaspoons salt (20 g) to 4 cups of fresh, distilled boiling water.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON HARD WATER

Hard water is found throughout Manitoba. It is important to note that hard water can greatly affect final sensory characteristics and cooking time of beans.

Researchers completed bean cooking trials at Red River College using soft water (30mg CaCO3/L) and hard water (120 mg CaCO3/L), as well as with distilled water (0mg CaCO3/L) for kidney beans and black beans. When hard and soft water are used for soaking and cooking beans, the cooking time is increased and the cooked quality is decreased. This effect is most prominent in larger kidney beans where the cook time is increased by 17% and 70% for soft water and hard water respectively. Although the best results came from beans cooked in distilled water, this may not be practical for everyday cooking. Further research is required to refine methods for cooking beans using hard tap water.

RECOMMENDED SALTING METHODS FOR DIFFERENT BEAN TYPES

Trials were conducted on five bean types: kidney, black, faba, navy and pinto. The use of 1-2% salt reduced cooking time* and improved the flavour, texture and appearance of cooked beans.

Based on the study, the cooking recommendations for each bean are as follows:

Navy Bean: 2% brine soak (average cook time = 34 min)

Black Bean: 2% brine soak (average cook time= 28 min)

Faba Bean: 1% salt in cooking water (average cook time = 9 min)

Kidney Bean: 1% salt in cooking water (average cook time = 36 min)

Pinto Bean: 1% salt in cooking water (average cook time = 26 min)

*Cooking time for beans begins when the cooking water reaches a gentle simmer. Water should be kept from vigorously boiling to prevent beans from bursting open.

Researchers concluded a little salt goes a long way in improving the overall flavour of beans.

Ready to start cooking with beans? Check out this tasty recipe:

Southwest Bean Salad

  • 1 1/2 Cup Black Beans, cooked
  • 1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 Cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Red Onion, slivered
  • 1/2 of one jalapeño, seeded, minced
  • 1 Cup Corn, toasted
  • 1 Cup, Bell Pepper, diced

Southwest Lime Dressing

  • 1/3 Cup Lime Juice, fresh
  • 1/4 Cup Canola Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 tsp Cumin, dry ground
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

In a large mixing bowl, all add ingredients for Bean Salad, set aside. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together ingredients for dressing. Adjust seasoning as desired. Pour dressing over salad, and stir until well coated. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for a few hours, stir again and serve.

Optional additions:

Avocado, chickpeas, cucumber, Cotija Cheese, Quinoa, Grilled Chicken, etc.

Funding for this work was provided by the Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers. Special thanks to Culinary co-op student Aileen Lopez and the Canadian International Grains Institute. Members of the industry advisory group, Tanya Der (Pulse Canada) and Dr. Ning Wang (Canadian Grain Commission) are gratefully acknowledged.

Bump gets a boost from newfound home cooks

May 5, 2020

The rise in home cooking has been hard to miss these past few weeks. Log on to Instagram and you’re likely to scroll through endless images of freshly baked bread, elaborate home-cooked meals, and exquisite desserts. With so many of us staying home, there’s more time to test out recipes and ingredients that were once too intimidating to try.

In the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Winnipeg-based food entrepreneur James Battershill was set to launch a new consumer product. Bump Beef + Plant Blend hit the shelves in mid-March – just as Winnipeg’s first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed.

Not ideal timing, to be sure, but many Winnipeg households now found themselves with a heaping serving of spare time and a dash of curiosity – which made for the winning, if unorthodox, setting for a new product to launch.

Bump kofta samples

“When we first saw the changes that came with the outbreak, we were seeing a lot of people cooking at home and people making their own lunches,” says Battershill. “We were expecting people to make comfort food – ground-beef based food.”

Bump is comfort food, with a twist. The product is geared towards the flexitarian market: people who are looking for alternate forms of protein without cutting meat from their diets altogether. The 70-30 ground beef/plant-based protein blend is the result of nearly two years of product development and experimentation.

While Battershill’s original plan of an aggressive in-store sampling program had to be shelved, the product is still currently available in Vita Health stores across the city. And has proven to be very popular.

“Sales at Vita Health are strong,” says Battershill. “It shows that people want to try something new.”

Juno Food Labs, the company behind Bump, has also started local delivery throughout Winnipeg to meet the demand of hungry consumers. And with warmer temperatures on the horizon, Winnipeggers are also itching to get grilling.

Bump is really great on the grill,” says Battershill. “It’s new and interesting – this will be a new staple to add to the barbecue.”

With extensive work experience in farm-lobbying, Battershill saw there was a gap in the market for a product explicitly designed for the flexitarian consumer. In February 2019, he quit his full-time job to establish Juno Food Labs and focus fully on Bump.

“Most products were entirely plant-based and aimed at vegetarians and vegans,” he says. “There was nothing specifically for people who still eat meat.”

Bump started where many food start-ups do: in the home kitchen. Battershill experimented to see how plant proteins and meats work together, initially using family and friends to taste-test the results. With positive feedback across the board, he approached Red River College’s Prairie Research Kitchen team in November 2018 to undertake an applied research project to determine the optimal product formulation.

James Battershill (at right, speaking) and Anna Borys (preparing Bump kofta) at the Prairie Research Kitchen grand opening

The Prairie Research Kitchen team has a blended background of food science and research, which made them the perfect team to bring Bump to the next level. The initial project involved ingredient selection, hydration, and ratio refinement of animal to plant proteins.

Prairie Research Kitchen research manager Heather Hill designed an extensive series of trials to determine the ideal ingredients and blending process. The project also integrated culinary students through recipe development to determine the functionality and flavour of the final Bump formulation.

“It was a surprisingly complex project considering the ingredient varieties and processing options,” Hill reports. “Our team did a thorough investigation to ensure the two protein sources blended consistently to meet consumer expectations when compared to pure ground beef.”

The resulting product performed well in production and sensory trials. The students initially developed four recipes to test taste and functionality, including a tasty Bump kofta kebab created by former co-op student and current research assistant, Anna Borys (see recipe below).

“It was a really positive experience,” says Battershill. “The Culinary Research team took the product from an idea to something that was refined and ready for commercialization.”

Anna Borys prepares Bump kofta at the Prairie Research Kitchen

While the new shift in daily routine can’t be ignored, Battershill notes that the current stay-home measures haven’t affected Juno Food Labs too much.

“Our team has always worked remotely, only now we have a more limited number of taste testers when we’re working on new recipes!” he says with a laugh.

For more information and recipes, visit eatbump.com.

Read more on Battershill’s work at the Prairie Research Kitchen in the Winnipeg Free Press.

 

Bump Beef + Plant Kofta Recipe

by Chef Anna Borys

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Bump
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 cup onion, grated
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander, ground
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 tsp allspice, ground
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne, ground
  • 1/8 tsp ginger, ground
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup of panko (or gluten-free) breadcrumbs

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Using clean hands (and gloves if you prefer), mix well. Ensure the spices are well distributed.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for minimum 20 minutes (or up to one day).
  4. Divide the meat into six-eight equal-sized portions. Form meat mixture portions into logs or pucks. You can form them on metal or soaked bamboo skewers.
  5. Grill on high heat or fry on medium high for 12-15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 74ºC (165ºF).
  6. Let rest for five minutes before serving.

Note: Serve with a variety of sides such a pita, tzatziki sauce, hummus, Greek salad, tabbouleh or couscous.

You can find the full video of the method up on RRC’s Instagram. Follow along and post your own recipes! Tag us @redrivercollege and use the hashtag #RRChomechef.

TACAM lends assets and expertise to fight against COVID-19

April 2, 2020

A typical day for RRC’s Technology Access Centre for Aerospace & Manufacturing (TACAM) includes working alongside aerospace and manufacturing industry partners to address local innovation needs.

But these are not typical days. In response to the global fight against COVID-19, TACAM is using their assets and expertise to support an important partner, CancerCare Manitoba, in the production of much-needed medical equipment.

File photo from RRC’s Nursing program

Responding to a need for more IV poles, TACAM is currently supporting the production of 100 new wheelbases for the poles. Specifically, the team is helping to manufacture 500 castor mounts for the wheelbases, which require 5 castor mounts per wheelbase.

“We’re proud to be able to leverage our assets and expertise in digital manufacturing to support CancerCare Manitoba and the incredible work they’re doing,” says Dele Ola, Ph.D., P.Eng., Director, TACAM. “We are prepared to help to support our healthcare system during this critical time in any way we can.”

While CancerCare Manitoba is well-resourced to manufacture their own equipment, the short timeframe and sheer scale of equipment required means they need to outsource certain aspects of the IV pole production. TACAM’s capabilities are well-suited to the large-scale and rapid production of equipment like the IV pole wheelbases.

“CancerCare Manitoba appreciates the ability of RRC’s TACAM to support us in the manufacturing of these components,” says Keith Sutherland, Business and Innovation Officer at CancerCare Manitoba. “TACAM’s specialized machinery allows for quicker manufacturing, which allows us to get the required IV poles into the hands of hospital staff much quicker than if we had to manufacture them on our own.”

TACAM has also signed up with Health Canada as a potential supplier of services should they need help in manufacturing medical equipment and/or devices, and have responded to a call from the National Research Council Canada (NRC), which asked to share TACAM’s capabilities in case additional support for medical equipment and devices is required.

TACAM’s capabilities include additive manufacturing/3D printing, reverse engineering, and many aspects of advanced digital manufacturing that can be quickly deployed in the production of articles needed in the fight against COVID-19.

Attention researchers! New Innovation Proof-of-Concept Grant available from Research Manitoba

January 14, 2020

Research Manitoba has launched a new Innovation Proof-of-Concept Grant that aims to strengthen Manitoba-based research innovation and development projects by filling a funding gap in the Manitoba innovation ecosystem. Through two independent streams, this program provides support for innovation and commercialization research that is not otherwise accessible. This program helps fund activities directly related to process validation and proof-of-concept research. The program is targeted towards research in: Bioscience, ICT, Advanced Manufacturing, and Infrastructure and Transportation Industries and Technologies.

The two funding streams are:

Stream 1: Manitoba-Based Consortium supports local collaboration that is addressing a company specific discovery or innovation towards market usability. This stream allows academics to use their world-class knowledge, facilities, and highly qualified personnel (HQP) to close the knowledge gaps identified during the industry partner’s innovation development.

Stream 2: Manitoba Post-Secondary Researchers supports the advancement of discoveries or innovations within an academic setting, which may result in products or technologies, towards market usability.

More information on the grant can be found in the Program Guide or on the Research Manitoba Innovation and Strategic Partnerships website. The application form is also now available on Research Manitoba’s Grants Management System (GMS). The 2020 competition will be open until March 31, 2021.

Read about the Smart Factory in Polytechnic Canada’s Applied Research Compendium

November 26, 2019

Polytechnics Canada has recently published a compendium on Applied Research: Building a Stronger Canada, and Red River College’s Smart Factory gets a mention for its value in emerging technologies in metal additive manufacturing, collaborative robotics, autonomous factory vehicles, flexible robotic work cells, industrial automation and networking, and high-speed 3D laser metrology.

View the entire compendium here, and see page 3 for more on Red River College and the Smart Factory.

Register for new webinars from Community-Based Research Canada

July 5, 2019

Are you interested in learning more about developing a co-curricular research shop model? Sign up for the latest webinar from Community-Based Research Canada (CBRC) – a national facilitator for community-based research (CBR) and campus-community engagement in Canada. Here is more information from their website:

“A research shop is a co-curricular post-secondary initiative where student volunteers work on research projects in the community. In the context of funding cuts in post-secondary education, lean and precarious resources for non-profit organizations, and multiple drivers towards experiential education, how does a research shop respond most effectively to community research requests? This webinar will present McMaster University’s experience formalizing its research shop, striving to be sustainable and relevant while balancing community needs and student experiences.”

The webinar takes place on Thursday, July 18 at 11am CST. Register here.