By: April Luesby

Mark Hoddenbagh, Director of Applied Research and Innovation, emceed the launch of the Health and Wellness Research Centre. Staff hope the centre will see the start of ten more projects this year alone.

Algonquin College officially launched its first Health and Wellness Research Centre on Jan. 24, 2013.

The college received $2.3 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through the College and Community Innovation (CCI) program for the centre.

“This is an important event at an institution like Algonquin College,” said Kent Macdonald, president of Algonquin College. “We are in a time that we’ve never been before in higher education.”

The centre is necessary because employers are seeking students who are prepared for the workforce, and the best way to do that is to give them the real-life experience before they graduate.

“It’s programs like this that allow our faculty and our staff to be able to apply their real-world, real-knowledge experience, share it with students, and then reach out and work,” Macdonald said. “The deepest, richest learning occurs when learning is hands-on, experiential, applied, and meets the needs of industry.”

Macdonald stressed the fact that the Centre will not only have an impact on students but also on our community. Students also benefit by being able to work with partners like Industry Canada, the provincial government, as well as NSERC and the CCI program.

“This is a radical place because it’s actually training people to do what we need to have done,” said Dr. Mark Hoddenbagh, Director of Applied Research and Innovation.

According to Hoddenbagh, one of the problems with healthcare advancements in Canada is that we are poor at marketing the technology that is being developed.

“We’re good at the research, we’re not as good at commercialization,” Hoddenbagh said. The centre will be able to help address this issue.

Even before the official launch, the centre had six projects underway, and staff hope to start at least 10 more projects this year alone. Thirty students, faculty members, and external contractors are also engaged in centre-led projects.

Faculty are excited that students will be able to be involved in this new exciting opportunity.

“Without students, we wouldn’t have the centre,” Hoddenbagh said. “The students are so passionate, so eloquent, so knowledgeable about what they’re doing.”