Research at Centennial College
Research at Centennial College
Research at Centennial is focused on providing practical solutions to industry and community challenges. We take advantage of our faculty’s expertise and our students’ skills to innovate, solve problems, and advance the research and development goals of our partners. Through this approach, we are able to contribute to economic and social development, keep our academic programming up-to-date and relevant, and provide meaningful experiential learning opportunities to our students.
Although our primary areas of expertise are healthcare technology, aerospace and aviation, energy systems, data analytics, and social innovation, we also regularly engage in projects outside these areas.
Most of Centennial’s research activity centers on addressing the needs of the external partners we work with. Centennial ARIES works closely with these partners to identify applied research opportunities, scope projects, determine fit, and secure funding. A limited opportunity exists (through the ARIF program) for faculty-driven applied research.
Most non-classroom applied research activities at Centennial are supported by a combination of partner cash contributions, government grants, and industry voucher programs. Provincial and federal granting agencies, such as NSERC and OCI, have funding programs specifically oriented toward colleges. ARIES keeps track of available funding opportunities and leads the process of preparing grant proposals, with contributions from faculty where needed.
ARIES staff work with academic leaders to identify faculty members with the expertise required to be Principal Investigators or to otherwise contribute to project leadership. With most projects, students are hired as research assistants to carry out research-related tasks. ARIES program managers and project coordinators oversee project execution, ensuring that our partners’ needs are met and that all relevant policies are followed.
In most cases, our partners retain ownership of any foreground IP arising from projects carried out at Centennial, with the College retaining rights to use the IP for teaching purposes.
The college and university models of applied research differ significantly.
In universities, individual faculty members are expected to develop their own long-term curiosity-driven research programs, secure funding, recruit and train graduate students and post-docs, and publish the results of their work in academic journals.
By contrast, the college applied research model relies on Applied Research offices (such as ARIES) to identify opportunities for partner-driven research, secure funding, and manage projects. Faculty members do not apply for grants or maintain research programs on their own, but are instead brought in on a project-by-project basis to provide expertise and project leadership, with students hired as research assistants where appropriate. The primary outputs of college applied research relate to student experiential learning, economic and social development, and problem-solving.
Examples of research at Centennial College
Electrically actuated landing gear R&D
Centennial has strong training programs in mechanical engineering technology, electronics, and aviation technology. Staff at the Applied Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Services (ARIES) office at Centennial recognized the potential to use the technical expertise of faculty members in these areas to address a long-term challenge in aviation technology – the reduction of aircraft weight.
Centennial ARIES worked with a group of small-aircraft OEM partners to develop a set of applied research projects that address weight reduction through electric motor-driven (rather than hydraulic) landing gear. The ARIES team successfully applied for a $2.3M grant through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Innovation Enhancement grant program for colleges, which matches partner cash contributions to the projects on a two-to-one basis. Individual projects are being executed by Centennial faculty and students with oversight from ARIES and regular guidance from partner company representatives. The bulk of the NSERC funding is used to provide course release or salary for contributing faculty and student research assistants. Technical work on these projects began in 2017 and is expected to continue to 2023.
Open resources for nursing education
Centennial offers an undergraduate degree program in Nursing, in collaboration with George Brown College and Ryerson University. As the program has grown, the limited availability of clinical placements for students has created challenges in scheduling and accommodating training needs.
To supplement these limited clinical opportunities, Centennial faculty members in the Nursing program envisioned the creation of on-line training modules that use live actors to take students through common scenarios they might encounter in the clinic. A group of Nursing faculty members successfully applied for funding through Centennial ARIES internal Applied Research and Innovation Fund (ARIF), which provides support for faculty-initiated research and innovation projects. The funds were used to cover release time for faculty Project Leaders, stipends for student researchers and actors, and for the rental of equipment needed for filming. The training modules have been posted online as Open Educational Resources and are now in use at colleges and universities across the world. Read more here.
Autonomous vehicle technology development
Autonomous (self-driving) vehicles are an area of major interest worldwide, and the Greater Toronto Area is home to a number of innovative startup companies working in this area. In turn, Centennial College has largest on-site transportation training facility in Canada, offering a large number of vehicle maintenance programs through its School of Transportation (SOT).
Representatives from Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) introduced Centennial ARIES and SOT representatives to a small startup company working on after-market modifications for self-driving trucks. ARIES worked with company staff and SOT faculty to develop an autonomous truck technology demonstration project that could be executed on the Centennial campus. ARIES staff successfully applied for a $25k grant for this project through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Engage program for colleges. The funds will be used to purchase supplies, cover faculty release time, and provide stipends for student research assistants. Project work is expected to be complete by the end of 2020.
Interested in getting involved?
The department of Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Services (ARIES) leads applied research activity at Centennial College. ARIES engages faculty, staff, students and industry partners in research activities across schools and sectors. For more information on ARIES and how to get involved, visit our website or contact email@example.com.