By: Stephen Sedgwick-Williams

Professor David Thibodeau has called the way students and clients interact a “Junior Employee Model.” In this model, students interact directly with clients as employees.

What do a locker designed specifically for mobility-impaired students and an environmental chamber meant to test elevator components have in common?

Both of them were developed by students for industry clients, and are examples of a number of such products that will be presented at this year’s Applied Research Day.

Applied Research Day 11.0 will be held on April 12, and will include projects from a variety of programs, all of them done with clients in related industries. The projects that will be presented at Applied Research Day 11.0 were made by students who essentially worked as contractors with a client that was looking specifically for something to be developed, giving them work experience in the process.

“We do projects with industry clients,” said Mark Hoddenbagh, director of applied research and innovation at Algonquin. “We want to give students an opportunity to showcase the work they’ve done.”

Students demonstrating their work at the event have been working with industry clients directly for months, or in some cases even a period over a year and act essentially like an employee or volunteer for their client.

“Here what we’re trying to do is to get our students and make them more employable. So what we do is instead of having the industrial partner deal with the professor, they’re face to face with the students,” said David Thibodeau, a professor in mechanical and transportation technology.

“So the students are working as virtual employees, or with a not-for-profit they’re normal volunteers.”

This particular approach to doing projects with industry clients is called the “Junior Employee Model” and essentially boils down to the idea that instead of reporting to a professor dealing with the client for marks, students will be dealing with clients themselves and be more akin to employees.

But work experience isn’t the only thing that students get from the applied research projects.

“Not only do you get experience in your field, you get experience in other things,” Hoddenbagh  said. “You work in teams typically, our projects are in teams, and then you start developing team building skills.”

Each group of students will have a display at the venue for Applied Research Day, which will include a poster describing their project. On the floor, they will be able to talk to friends, family, prospective students, and  most importantly, potential employers about their projects.

But for those students who are in a different academic cycle with similar projects, there will be two more Applied Research days throughout the year as well, 11.1, which will be during the summer, and 11.2, which will be held in the winter.

“Normally they do one a year, it would be in the spring because most programs run from September to April,” Thibodeau said. “The show in April is a great venue for the normal academic cycle. But then what happened is there are other programs, in the minority, that run on a different cycle.”