In today’s competitive job market, employers are looking for anything to separate a potential employee from the masses – working on a project with Applied Research can help students do exactly that.
Conestoga’s Applied Research office has multiple projects set up that are intended to give students an inside look into the real world of industry by allowing them to work hand-in-hand with many companies to develop specific products.
“Students get to try on the reality of what their education has actually done for them,” said Andrea McManus, administrative assistant at Applied Research.
The department started back in 2004, but it’s only been since 2010 that they have seen major funding due to generous contributions from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev).
“Companies do a balancing act between hiring employees with general or specific knowledge,” said Greg Robertson, director of Applied Research. “However, students in these programs get the advantage of learning both.”
Currently there are nine big projects that Applied Research offers to students depending on which program they are enrolled in.
One of these interesting projects is “Development of Terahertz Sensors to Sort Black Plastics,” which gives participants a chance to work with Brian Jeffery, principal investigator and research assistant, to develop a product for TeTechS Inc.
“This is one of the best projects out there,” said Jeffery. “It gives students a wide range of things to work on, but if students have interest in a specific area I like to let them explore that too.”
Mechanical systems engineering (MES) student Greg Burns was introduced to the project by a professor of his, and he works to help Jeffery with the development of the project.
“The project deals specifically with stuff that’s related to my discipline,” he said. “It really reinforces everything that I’ve been learning in both first and second year.”
Burns has the opportunity to get a head start on other students and can gain eight months of pre-graduation work experience by working on the project; this counts toward the eventual four years of experience that he’ll need.
“There are certain things I’ve done on the project that are huge in the industry,” he explained. “It really gives you a huge competitive edge over the other graduates.”
Burns is one of approximately 30 students who will be reaping the rewards of projects set up through Applied Research.
But what does the future have in store for the department itself?
The program’s funding from FedDev expires in March, but they are hoping that will be extended so they can keep providing students with projects to work on.
“We’ll just keep applying for as many provincial and federal grants as we can,” said Jennifer Fletcher, research projects administrator. “We need to keep Applied Research moving forward.”