Saskatchewan Polytechnic partners with industry experts to create manufacturing innovations

Responding to industry need for cross-disciplined workers, Saskatchewan Polytechnic launched its Innovative Manufacturing program in late 2016.  Beginning in September, 2017 the two-year diploma program will be delivered at the Regina campus.

The Innovative Manufacturing program is a result of a collaboration with industry and employers. The program sets out to train multi-skilled workers using leading-edge technology and equipment. The cross-discipline design of the program provides students with a breadth and depth of knowledge and skills, ranging from mechanical and CAD/CAM engineering technologies, welding, machining, fibre, bio-plastic and composite disciplines to project management, industrial design and quality control/quality assurance strategies.

“Through collaboration everyone involved succeeds — our industry partners, our students and the future of manufacturing in Saskatchewan,” says Jamie Hilts, Sask Polytech’s dean of the School of Mining, Energy and Manufacturing and the School of Natural Resources and Built Environment.

Leading the pack

Saskatchewan Polytechnic delivers industry responsive and innovative programming in manufacturing. With more than 700 Program Advisory Council members collaborating on existing and future programs, including manufacturing, Sask Polytech has become a vital part of Saskatchewan’s manufacturing sector. These experts provide collaborative input on existing and future program development and delivery.

“The business of manufacturing is changing at a pace we haven’t seen since the Industrial Revolution,” explains Derek Lothian, editor of Prairie Manufacturer Magazine. “The increased adoption of automation and digital technologies — coupled with massive shifts in global market pressures — have spurred the need for new skill sets and a deeper understanding of the interconnected systems impacting business success. The Innovative Manufacturing diploma blends hands-on practice and theory in a way that will better prepare students for the challenges of a fast-evolving workforce.”

Continuing to support industry partners, Hilts says there are plans to expand facilities to include a manufacturing centre that will focus on bio-plastic prototyping and testing. It will be the only one of its kind in Canada.

“The state-of-the-art facility will provide industry with access to innovative manufacturing technologies to produce and test bio-based products,” says Hilts. “It will be home to cutting-edge equipment and processes so that our faculty, students and partners can begin to discover new solutions to the manufacturing challenges faced by industry.”

Fostering growth and applied research

Partnering with Sask Polytech on an applied research project also means industry partners can access funding opportunities that will accelerate research and development.

As Dr. Susan Blum, associate vice-president, Applied Research and Innovation points out, there are extensive opportunities for industry growth and applied research partnerships.

“Working together on applied research partnerships, we can ensure Saskatchewan’s manufacturing sector remains adaptive to technological advancements, responsive to the changing needs of the province and valued as a contributor to a stable manufacturing economy,” says Blum.

Working with industry partners on an applied research project also means students will graduate as cross-disciplinary leaders and highly sought after employees who will bring not only a strong knowledge of technology relevant to the field of manufacturing, but the skills and ability to be effective, creative and innovative problem solvers.

“Applied research projects allow us to work in tandem with our partners to identify successful solutions to the everyday problems they face,” says Hilts. “We offer our partners the benefits that come from access to our exceptional facilities and faculty expertise.”

“The more innovative the manufacturing sector can be, the more successful they will be,” says Hilts. “We want to help them find success.”