By Tamir Virani
Algonquin students and faculty will join industry professionals Dec. 3 to showcase months of hard work and collaboration at the third annual Applied Research Day.
The event, hosted by the Office of Applied Research and Innovation, serves as an intended showcase for students that are part of the applied research program at the college.
The program aims to bring together students, staff and industry partners in order to collaborate on development research projects.
“Applied means hands-on, making things happen. What we do is provide experiential learning for our students,” said Tina Zhou, a project coordinator within the office.
The process begins with a business client reaching out to the office with a specific project and a need for students to help work on it. The business is then required to fill out an idea submission form (ISF) in order to provide details and facilitate the matching process. The idea is then pitched during what is called a “pitchfork presentation.”
“Once it is approved, we match the business and their project with a professor and a team of three students,” said Zhou.
The projects are as varied as the type of students they are matched with. There are about 20 college programs working with the program at the moment. For the office, it’s all about finding the right student for the right job.
“These students come from all over. They come from programs like mechanical engineering, design media and hospitality,” said Carmel Larkin, an administrative officer for the office.
Eventually, the office hopes to expand and work with every program in the college in the next five years.
Once a match is successful, the team gets straight to work for several months. The end results, which are usually displayed at one of three Applied Research Days hosted annually, typify the creativity and novelty that comes out of student and business professional collaboration.
One such example, a project entitled Impakt Protective, used students from the computer science and mechanical engineering programs to help come up with a sensor device that could integrate with sports helmets in order to detect potential concussions.
“The program gives industry partners exposure to what the college can provide. It gives students excellent presentation skills, knowledge and confidence,” said Larkin.
Larkin also highlighted the exposure the program gives to college students. “Some of our students are even hired by the companies if the client is really happy with the outcome.”
The Applied Research Day itself is open to all faculty and students at the college. Project booths are set up for each team to display their work. Their partner clients will often set up promotional booths beside them as well.
In addition, projects are judged by professors and external clients with award certifications and prize money given out to top projects.
“We’re expecting around 25 projects in addition to company booths this time around for projects that began in September,” said Zhou. “We also open it up to any projects who did not get to showcase their work at the last Applied Research Day.”
There are three Applied Research Days held every year, beginning in April, followed by one in the summer and finally one in December.
“Our April showcase is the largest,” said Larkin. “Our last one had over 100 projects that were presented.”
The showcases also feature services booths, which belong to internal college departments that want to use it as an opportunity to promote their own services and businesses.
Mark Hoddenbagh, the director of the applied research and innovation program believes that the Applied Research Days are crucial. “It gives the students an opportunity to be proud of their work. It lets them see what they can accomplish when they set their mind to it,” he said.
“It’s the greatest show on earth,” Hoddenbagh joked.
For more information on the event, visit the Applied Research and Innovation website.