DC and OPG renew successful longstanding partnership

Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) continued championing of skilled trades development and training thanks to a $500,000 donation provided through OPG’s Centre for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability (CCNS). The funds are supporting the ongoing construction of DC’s Whitby Campus Expansion project.

“We are excited to continue our longstanding relationship with OPG,” said Don Lovisa, President, Durham College. “As a key player in the skilled trades industry, they truly understand the importance of training the next generation of tradespeople. In choosing to direct funds to the college’s latest capital project, which will see an additional 750 seats added at the Whitby campus, they are helping DC continue our tradition of educational excellence, while also ensuring there is a pipeline of qualified graduates to support the success of the nuclear industry as a whole and help OPG achieve their organizational goals.”

OPG recently opened the CCNS, a world-class facility that will attract skilled jobs, innovative businesses, and economic development to the Durham Region. Whether working on collaborative research or planning for the decommissioning of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, one the CCNS goals is to create jobs to benefit Ontario’s economy, including a variety of skilled trades roles. As such, supporting DC’s efforts to increase its educational capabilities in those related fields, through capital development, is a natural fit.

“OPG and the CCNS, is extremely proud to support Durham College’s latest capital project,” said Carla Carmichael, Vice President, Nuclear Decommissioning Strategies. “Investing in this state-of-the-art facility, designed for hands-on learning, is just the latest milestone in our funding partnership with the college.”

In addition to the latest $500,000 contribution, the 15-year partnership with DC has resulted in more than $5.5 million to support numerous initiatives and programs throughout the college. These include the development of DC’s first-ever Boiler and X-ray labs, funding towards specialized pre-apprenticeship programs, purchasing of specialized equipment and instruments for numerous other technology labs, sponsoring the Young Women in Science Technology and Trades Conference, establishing paid internship and co-op programs at OPG, and funding student scholarships and bursaries.

In return, the college has been able to support OPG through training for its own employees, as they seek to find innovative solutions for the nuclear industry.

“For more then 15 years, DC has played a key role in meeting OPG’s needs for well-educated and enthusiastic people to join our company or work on our capital projects, such as the Darlington Station Nuclear Refurbishment Project,” said Carmichael. “We believe this investment is beneficial for both entities as it creates opportunities for students, who as graduates will help support the CCNS’ mission and sustain a skilled workforce needed for the industry’s future projects.”

Durham College and Ontario Tech University celebrate successful Campus Food Drive

Thanks to the generosity of the Durham College and Ontario Tech University communities, the 2020 Campus Food Drive raised more than $22,000 to help 384 students in need.

“In a year like no other, we are grateful for the continued support from our employees and their dedication to our students during the holiday season,” says Kevin Griffin, professor in the School of Justice and Emergency Services at DC and co-chair of the Campus Food Drive. “During a particularly challenging year for our students, our employees once again came through – and although we couldn’t accept food donations and pack hampers this year, we were still able to support our students through fundraising efforts for the new Campus Food Drive bursary.”

The food drive bursary supported qualifying full-time students (married/sole support) with families, and students who are living away from home and experiencing food insecurity.

“Food insecurity is an unfortunate reality for some,” says Kevin. “Although the Campus Food Drive efforts may look different moving forward, the goal and the spirit of the initiative remains the same. We hope that this bursary will continue to be an important part of assisting students in need in the future.”

The Campus Food Drive is an annual campaign organized by Durham College and Ontario Tech with support from employees, alumni, students and community members.

DC’s AI Hub and W. Galen Weston Centre win Business Excellence Award from Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce

Durham College (DC) is proud to announce that its Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence for Business Solutions (the AI Hub) and W. Galen Weston Centre for Food (Weston Centre) have each received a Business Excellence Award from the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce in the categories of innovation and sustainability, respectively.

The AI Hub’s win in the innovation category highlights recent achievements and success in the local tech sector, including the planning and co-ordination of their Enable AI conference, the first of its kind in the Durham Region, and the completion of numerous unique applied research projects for small-and-medium sized businesses. 

Winning in the sustainability category, which was launched by Oshawa Power last year, the Weston Centre was recognized for its field-to-fork philosophy, as well as its diverse, environmentally friendly programs and practices. From exploring energy-efficient growing methods, while also addressing the issue of food scarcity, to planting and harvesting seasonal crops to be used in Bistro ’67, the college’s teaching-inspired restaurant, or in community shared agriculture boxes, sustainability underscores much of the Weston Centre’s operations.

“The work undertaken at the AI Hub and Weston Centre enhances all aspects of teaching and learning, while also driving growth and supporting the broader community,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “It is always incredibly gratifying when those efforts are recognized and we want to thank the chamber for its acknowledgement of our innovation and sustainability initiatives.”

Accepting the awards on behalf of the college were Kelly O’Brien, general manager, Operations, W. Galen Weston Centre for Food, and Debbie McKee Demczyk, dean, Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 

“On behalf of the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce, it gives me pleasure to congratulate Durham College on receiving two awards this year at our 25th Annual Business Excellence Awards,” said Nancy Shaw, CEO, Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce. “Each clearly represent excellence in education through Durham College. Congratulations!”

The Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards were established in 1995 and honour organizations that excel in all areas of business and leadership within the community.

The full awards presentation can be found online.

DC puts 3D printers into action making PPE for donation to workers on frontline of COVID-19

Working out of their garages and basements, Durham College (DC) students, employees, alumni and community members are using 3D printers to create the frames for face shields used by the healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative launched on March 26 and within 48 hours the first donation of personal protective equipment (PPE) built with the college’s 3D-printed parts were delivered to Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg, Ontario.

“Ontario PPE manufacturer InkSmith put out a call for support to the 3D printing community and Durham College immediately answered that call,” said Chris Daniel, a professor with the college’s School of Science & Engineering Technology. “Six of DC’s 3D printers are now relocated to my garage and a group of our Mechanical Engineering Technology students and alumni who have their own 3D printers are on board with this initiative and printing furiously too.”

There are currently 20 DC community members using 30 rapid prototyping machines across Durham Region to create the face shield frames. With community outreach being led by DC’s Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the college is currently working with two partners to see the parts put to use:

  • DC is shipping frames to InkSmith, where the parts are used to create the company’s community shield, a sanitized single-use shield which InkSmith is donating quantities of to underfunded hospitals and healthcare providers.
  • The college is also collaborating with a team from Ontario Tech University that is also creating one-time-use face shields for donation to local healthcare teams.

“I am always proud to count myself among DC’s more than 90,000 alumni but it’s in moments like this that I’m grateful to be part of a community that is so committed to supporting our greater community, especially the brave men and women who are working tirelessly on the healthcare frontline,” said alumnus Brent Lessard, who is currently using his 3D printer at home to contribute to the college’s face shield frame production. Lessard also sits on the DC Alumni Association board of directors.

On March 28, Chris Daniel launched a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $1,000 to purchase more polylactic acid, or PLA, the printing material used to 3D print the face shield frames. In less than a day, more than $8,000 was donated, 100-per-cent of which will be used to purchase more PLA for the DC project and to purchase more face shields from InkSmith that will also be donated to healthcare providers.

Chris Daniel is a professor in the Mechanical Engineering Technology program at DC as well as a faculty advisor with the college’s FastStart entrepreneurship team. Two of the 3D printers he is currently using to create PPE parts are on loan from DC's 360insights Entrepreneurship Centre, located at the Oshawa campus. He is joined by the following team members who are also working from home to print the parts:

Marlon Alleyne
Paul Burgess
Jonathan Cusack Striepe
Rumedh Cyril
Shane DeSilva
Andrew Kay
Kyle Laughton
Adeshpal Singh

Donald and Sarah Bark
Ankit Bhat
Brent Lessard
Harshit Patel
Mitchell Russell
Blake Smith

Chris Daniel 

Community members
Jane and Todd Ferguson
James and Debbie Fraser
Nora and Jeff Stevens
Jaydev Chauhan

EnactusDC embarks on first international project

EnactusDC is celebrating the launch of its first international project, Project G.R.O.W.(Generating Real Opportunities Worldwide), and a fantastic first trip to South Africa!

EnactusDC is the Durham College (DC) chapter of Enactus, an international organization of student entrepreneurs who develop businesses that make positive social, economic or environmental impacts in their local communities or internationally. The EnactusDC team is a part of the FastStart SHIFT program at the college, a business start-up accelerator designed for social enterprises.

Project G.R.O.W. is one of the team’s six active projects for 2020 and the first to introduce impactful international work into the mix. It is a welcome addition to EnactusDC’s 2020 competitive project roster, which also includes Girls EnPower, True Grit, Money Makes Cents, M03 Solutions and 3eehive.

During the college’s winter break, EnactusDC team leaders traveled to rural community schools in South Africa’s central region, known as Midrand, where they performed a formal needs assessment for a new food literacy and education-based garden project. Project G.R.O.W. is working with Canadian partner Rainbow Plate to design custom curricula around an experiential learning-based garden project for South African students, ages 0 to 5. The team will work with teachers at participating disadvantaged schools to implement curricula, build gardens and provide an entrepreneurial training opportunity to generate income through sales of the surplus garden yield.

The project is led by three students from DC’s Marketing – Business program: Chin-Ting Sherwin, Jonathan Bayne and Christian Lopers. These students forged a fantastic connection with their in-country host, celebrated DC alumna Cailey Hart. Since graduating from DC’s Early Childhood Education program in 2010, Cailey has become the principal of Botshabelo Urban Kids Educentre in South Africa.

The students were joined by EnactusDC faculty advisor Chris Daniel, a professor with DC’s school of Science & Engineering Technology.

“It was amazing to watch the impact that Durham College’s ECE teaching methodologies have had on increasing the skills of the local urban and rural preschool teachers around Midrand, South Africa,” says Chris.  “It’s a true credit to Cailey’s leadership and since she has clearly shown great success at helping her colleague replicate her skill set, I’m confident that her ability to manage the creation and duplication of a garden and the Rainbow Plate nutrition methodology throughout the region will be successful as well.”

Team member Chin-Ting Sherwin adds, “Being able to visit communities in South Africa has been a life-changing experience. The warm welcome from the people within the schools and the overall lifestyle have opened my eyes to how happiness comes in many forms. This opportunity has changed my perspective and was unforgettable.”

Cailey Hart hosted the EnactusDC team onsite at her school and introduced members to several rural schools in disadvantaged areas, which are to become the focus of the project work. In addition to their gratitude to Cailey, EnactusDC is thankful to the college for its ongoing support, the DC Alumni Association, DC Students Inc. and DC’s International Office for helping make this new initiative possible.

DC and Ontario Tech University raised $21,000 for students in need over the holiday season

Last month, employees from Durham College (DC) and Ontario Tech University opened their hearts to students in need through the annual Holiday Food Drive. A longstanding campus tradition, the drive provides hampers of food and financial assistance to student families from both institutions during the holiday season. This year, the drive raised more than $21,000 and helped 332 students and their families.

After a full season of fundraising, the co-chairs of the drive are extending their sincere thanks to everyone who helped make the 2019 initiative a resounding success.

“I would like to thank everyone for another successful Holiday Food Drive,” says Kevin Griffin, professor in the School of Justice and Emergency Services at DC. “There is an amazing culture of giving at both Durham College and Ontario Tech University which is evident on this campus every day. That is what makes this event so successful.”

“We are grateful for the continued generosity of our students, faculty and staff at both institutions,” says Kevin’s co-chair, Sarah Rasile, director, Student Success at Ontario Tech University. “Thank you to everyone who gave their time, donated food, and hosted or supported the many fundraisers that make this drive possible each and every year. We received many notes of appreciation from students and we want everyone involved to know that your efforts made the holiday season brighter for many students and their families”.

The campus holiday food drive is organized annually by DC, the university, the Kinsmen Club of Oshawa, Durham College Students Inc. and Ontario Tech Student Union.

Durham College encourages young women to see themselves in science, technology and skilled trades

On October 22 and 23, Durham College (DC) hosted more than 600 Grade 7 and 8 students from across Durham Region and Northumberland County for the second annual conference, Expand the Possibilities: Young Women in Science, Technology and Trades.

The two days of exploration and inspiration aimed to better connect girls with careers in the traditionally male-dominated fields of science, technology and skilled trades. Each day of the conference included a keynote presentation and a series of hands-on workshops held in the college’s industry-grade facilities and innovative learning spaces.

“These young women need to believe that they belong in a lab conducting experiments, operating a crane on a jobsite or deep in the code advancing cybersecurity,” said Dr. Elaine Popp, vice president, Academic, DC. “As a post-secondary leader in science, technology and skilled trades, our job at Durham College is to help students get there. This conference is an important first step in that journey.”

Students received practical advice and motivation from serial inventor Ann Makosinski and contractor-entrepreneur-TV personality Kate Campbell. Makosinski offered a compelling argument for how fewer distractions equal more creativity as she shared her experience as a young inventor who is now one of the most sought-after influencers of her generation. Sharing highlights from her own career journey, Campbell busted myths associated with skilled trades and encouraged students to consider pursuing an apprenticeship.

“Engaging more young women in the fields of science, technology and skilled trades is critical if we are going to conquer the skills shortage that is facing employers and industries across the country,” said DC president Don Lovisa. “Our hope is that at the end of each day, students leave this conference with a clearer vision of the incredible opportunities and careers that are available to them.”

On the second day of the conference, at the college’s Whitby campus, the Honourable Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities, brought greetings from the Ontario government. He also rolled-up his sleeves to participate in activities alongside students.

In addition to workshops led by DC faculty, sessions were also delivered and supported by several conference sponsors. Seven industry leaders partnered with the college on this year’s event: Gerdau, General Motors, OCNI: Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries, Ontario Power Generation, RESCON: Residential Construction Council of Ontario, Siemens and Black & McDonald.

Durham College continues to support local autoworkers through transition

Durham College (DC) hosted the government of Ontario, on October 23 as Minister of Labour, Training and Development, the Honourable Monte McNaughton announced the opening of the Unifor/GM Oshawa Action Centre. Established in response to General Motors’ (GM) announcement regarding the Oshawa Assembly Plant, the centre will be a resource for employees to access employment guidance and job search support, referrals to service providers and computers and the internet.

As a proud member of our community, DC has been working with GM, the provincial government and education partners over the past months, developing resources to support impacted auto-sector workers through this transition. Generously powered by TD Canada Trust (TD), a resource-filled, college-supported website has been created to provide these workers access to post-secondary and government resources and offerings from regional partners and employers to help them in their next steps. The college working to connect those looking for work, with the right education and training solution and the right employer. Additionally, DC has established a job portal specifically for GM employees affected by the changes.

“By working together we are creating meaningful support structures and engagement opportunities for autoworkers that will hopefully lessen the impact of these changes on their lives and families,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “The auto-sector workforce is experienced and skilled. The resources provided by Durham College and our partners will give them assistance and guidance as they look to leverage new and perhaps even greater opportunities in the future.”

Also, on October 23, auto-sector employees had an opportunity to come to DC’s Oshawa campus to participate in a job fair. Sponsored and organized by GM, UNIFOR, and the Ontario Government with generous sponsorship from TD, participants connected with 40 employers and community partners who were on hand to discuss employment and training opportunities.

Through collaboration and working with our community, DC is working hard to ensure those affected are supported as we adapt and evolve together.

DC students create wayfinding tool for Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens

Durham College (DC), with TeachingCity Oshawa, is proud to announce the launch of new Augmented Reality (AR) technology to encourage the community to explore and learn about the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens.

The community can now use their smartphone cameras, to scan Quick Response (QR) codes placed on signage throughout the park to learn about the park, points of interest and utilize a navigation guide between landmarks.

 “The innovative experiential learning opportunities created through Durham College’s partnership with TeachingCity give students the chance to investigate and problem solve, strengthening the skills they learn in the classroom,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “This augmented reality wayfinding app is just one example of the incredible things that are possible when we leverage the talent of our students and faculty in partnership with and in support of our community.”

Students researched, designed and created the AR platform as part of a TeachingCity partnership with the City of Oshawa and the Durham College’s (DC) Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship and School of Media, Art and Design. This was a pilot project that will be enhanced through future collaborations with DC students. The City and the College are also exploring the possibility of expanding the technology to include other City parks.

Lakeridge Health and Durham College project applies artificial intelligence to predict emergency department wait times

A new partnership between Lakeridge Health and Durham College’s (DC) Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence for Business Solutions (the AI Hub) will test the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to predict how long an individual will wait in the emergency department (ED), improving decision making and the patient’s experience in the ED.

The 40-week project, led by DC faculty researcher Amit Maraj and a team of four research assistants from the Computer Programmer Analyst program, will result in a prototype for an AI-infused recommender system. If successful, this system would make individual wait-time predictions for ED visits based on the person’s condition, what ED they are visiting and the time of day and year. The predictions would also take into account a person’s individual health status and other factors, including staffing, the number of people waiting for care and the urgency of everyone’s needs.

“People waiting in the emergency department often feel frustration and anxiety because they don’t know how long they will be there or what to expect,” said Dr. Ilan Lenga, chief information officer and chief medical information officer of Lakeridge Health. “We are pleased to be able to harness the ingenuity of the students and faculty at Durham College to develop a system that will benefit the community and improve people’s experiences in the emergency departments.”

The program team will look at a set of actual, anonymized patient data from the past to build a system – using machine learning – that can predict with a high degree of accuracy their wait time given everything that was happening in the ED at the time that they visited.

“We are excited about this opportunity to collaborate with Lakeridge Health to optimize the use of our health-care system’s resources using artificial intelligence,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “The work we are doing in this project has the potential to be tremendously helpful for patients while showcasing the real-world application of AI in a health-care setting in a way that will positively impact the system as a whole.”

Personalized predictions are important because emergency departments must treat the most urgent patients first, and do not operate on a “first-come, first-served” basis.