It was announced Feb. 25 that the University of Waterloo will be part of a consortium alongside McMaster University and Western University, contributing to advanced manufacturing research. This will be a $50 million project, and the Government of Ontario will be funding $35 million of that over the next five years. </p>
According to Prof. George Dixon from UW’s biology department, the University of Waterloo already has expertise in advanced manufacturing, including the development of new materials for manufacturing, hybrid materials, and computer control. McMaster and Western also have expertise in this area. The three universities have specific infrastructure already in place for research on advanced manufacturing, and will be able to pool their resources to work together.
“The whole idea of this consortium is to build on each other’s strengths so that we have a bigger critical mass to … undertake research and do applications in [advanced manufacturing],” Dixon said.
According to Dixon, this project is being funded by the Government of Ontario to fill in the structural unemployment gaps that Ontario has, due to much of the manufacturing employment in the province being outsourced.
This manufacturing will be different from the past, however.
“Don’t think of an automotive assembly plant; think about highly flexible facilities that can produce small lots of manufacturing materials that have very specific design characteristics,” Dixon said. “If we are going to compete on a world basis we have to be able to develop the expertise and the infrastructure in Canada to do that.”
The consortium should also provide increased opportunity for UW students. As many graduate students and senior undergrads will participate in research, more opportunities will be available in advanced manufacturing. Dixon estimated that “70 per cent of the money would be spent supporting graduate students or collaborative initiatives with industry that give industrial experience to students.”