In This Together DC: Update on ORSIE activities

As part of our In This Together DC email series, today’s update will share with you details about activities taking place within the Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE).

The transition to work-from-home that occurred in mid-March was sudden and unexpected, but the ORSIE team quickly pivoted, barely missing a beat. How did we do it?

Most of the applied research projects in the AI Hub and the Centre for Cybersecurity Innovation are naturally technology-based, and with the support of video conferencing and various tools, including Microsoft Teams, projects that were in-progress were able to continue with minimal disruption. Social media efforts were heightened to maintain visibility and several online events have been offered to continue to engage business partners. Over the last two months, the applied research team not only finished the in-progress projects, but also started 12 new projects with industry partners.

Three new community-based social innovation projects were launched over the last several weeks involving six faculty, with funding from the College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF). Some aspects of the research may be delayed as a result of the pandemic, but planning continues and enthusiasm remains strong! Numerous other partnership activities are ongoing virtually in preparation for the next round of CCSIF funding. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council created new opportunities to access funding to improve circumstances for those hit hard by the pandemic, and approval has already been received for one of the applications submitted, permitting DC researchers to assist another community-based organization.

Projects involving the Mixed Reality Capture Studio and the Centre for Craft Brewing Innovation depend on specialized equipment. Although the campus remains closed, ORSIE staff, faculty, and researchers are busy scoping projects that will be ready to start as soon as access to the spaces is permitted. The applied research team is also busy working on a number of additional funding applications that, if approved, will create even more opportunities for faculty to engage in applied research.

The institutional research (IR) team swung into action following the campus closure to create a Student Climate Survey to understand students’ concerns about the pandemic and its affect on their studies and their well-being. Following that, the IR team partnered with the Centre for Academic and Faculty Enrichment (CAFE) to develop a faculty survey, so that CAFE can best support faculty needs. As program review teams moved meetings online, the IR team has begun providing Program Information Package presentations virtually, with positive feedback from faculty.

The Experiential Learning (EL) team had to quickly assess the impact of field placement suspensions and consider alternatives. Working with colleagues from across the schools, this has involved navigating complex requirements, liability issues, safety concerns, and most importantly, student needs. Riipen, an online technology platform that connects businesses with students to work on projects, is emerging as an effective solution enabling remote delivery for several programs.

As for ORSIE’s FastStartDC team, you will learn more about their transition in a subsequent In This Together DC segment.

While we have been working from home, the ORSIE team has recognized the importance of working together and supporting one another. With frequent communications, effective listening, flexibility, patience, and of course lots of humour, we are committed to success for our partners, DC students, and each other.

Debbie McKee Demczyk,
Dean, Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship