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College and Public Relations

Paul and Gerri Charette donate $1 million to establish Research Chair at RRC

May 26, 2015

Paul Charette, former CEO of Bird Construction and Red River College alumnus, and his wife Gerri have donated $1 million towards the establishment of a research chair for the School of Construction Engineering Technology (SCET) at Red River College.

The Province has agreed to provide matching funds to create the new chair position, entitled the Paul Charette – Manitoba Applied Research Chair in Sustainable Construction.

“We are humbled by Paul and Gerri’s generous commitment and very pleased that the Province has responded with matching funds,” said David Rew, Interim President and CEO of Red River College. “It’s an excellent show of confidence in our School of Construction Engineering and Technology and our nationally recognized applied research program.”

This position will support student learning while helping the construction community develop innovative processes, technologies, and applications to reduce costs, boost productivity, and create more sustainable infrastructure; the Chair will also lead SCET’s research program.

“Being a 40 year veteran of the construction sector, its clear that research and innovation are lagging far behind other sectors,” said Charette. “I believe that sustainable infrastructure is what our industry really needs to move towards.”

Charette said that applied research not only benefits the sector directly with new product innovations, but that having students engaged in the process teaches them to be critical thinkers, an ability they need to become advocates of change in the sector.

“We need students that will challenge their managers to do things in new ways,” said Charette.

Charette has been an advocate for more government support of research chairs at colleges.

“When we started, we were a little ahead of the curve,” said Charette. “The Province of Manitoba has been visionary in their support of this initiative.”

Dr. Shokry Rashwan, who was previously research manager with the National Research Council’s Centre for Computer-Assisted Construction Technologies, has been appointed to the Paul Charette – Manitoba Applied Research Chair in Sustainable Construction.

“Manitoba’s construction sector is heavily reliant upon the College for qualified – and increasing technology and innovation savvy – grads,” said Rashwan. “I’m excited to be filling this critical role and look forward to working with both students and industry to meet the sector’s current and future needs.”

It’s an especially exciting time for construction innovation in Manitoba, with the College’s recent $1.75-million award from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to establish the Centre for Building Envelope Performance (CBEP), which is expected to significantly increase access to the College’s facilities, equipment, and expertise for Manitoba’s building industry

Rashwan is now the third research chair at Red River College, joining, Fred Doern with the School of Transportation, Aviation and Manufacturing and Janet Jamieson with the School of Health Sciences and Community Services.

“After a decade of applied research at the College, we are pleased to be responding to the research needs of our communities with established research chairs that provide direction and leadership to their schools,” said Ray Hoemsen, Director of Applied Research & Commercialization.