Durham College awarded two Mitacs Accelerate grants to support student research internships

College amongst first in Ontario to access the program

Oshawa, ON – Durham College’s (DC) Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE) is pleased to announce it has been awarded two Mitacs Accelerate grants totalling $120,000, in support of two new applied research projects creating eight internships for DC students.

Mitacs is a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving challenges with research solutions from academic institutions. It is funded by the Government of Canada with support from provincial governments across the country.

Among the first colleges in Ontario to access the program, the grants are allowing DC to build research partnerships while also giving students meaningful experiential learning opportunities to participate in research as paid interns. Not only does this help partner organizations that need their expertise, it contributes to the training of highly qualified research personnel by providing work-integrated opportunities at DC that support students’ career readiness.

“Hands-on and real-world experience is a crucial part of a world-class post-secondary education. That’s why our Government is proud to support our colleges and universities through Mitacs to create more work-integrated learning opportunities for Ontario students,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “By helping our students get new experiences in their field of study, Durham College and Mitacs are giving their students access to the skills they need to find a good job and succeed in the career of their choice.”

“The Mitacs Accelerate program is a unique funding model that brings researchers, students and businesses together to solve real-world challenges,” said Debbie McKee Demczyk, dean, ORSIE. “We are very excited to see the two research projects come to fruition and are grateful to be receiving support from our partner companies and Mitacs itself.”


Project One: Developing a unique inventory optimization model

Recognizing that manufacturing is a $174 billion industry in Canada, representing over 10 per cent of the total GDP and 68 per cent of merchandise exports, efficient inventory management plays a vital role in a business’s profitability.

Thanks to Mitacs funding, two DC students from the college’s Supply Chain and Operations Management – Business Administration (SOM) program have created an inventory optimization model that predicts factors affecting stock, as part of an internship with electronics manufacturer Creation Technologies LP.

Students worked under the supervision of Creation Technologies’ Supply Chain Leader Maura Kirby, who also sits on the SOM Program Advisory Committee at DC, and faculty researcher Brent Clemens, to create a system that can determine the optimal levels of supply needed to support customer needs, while meeting the company’s business targets. By creating significant cost-savings and improving customer satisfaction, the outcome of this project will support the company’s continued growth and the creation of high-quality jobs for Canadians.

During their internship, DC’s students applied the skills, theories, and concepts learned in their program in a workplace setting, while building their professional networks, and acquiring hands-on experience. Since the project ended in January, both students were hired by Creation Technologies.

“I am very pleased to be able to participate with Durham College and Mitacs on this project,” shared Kirby. “The students were able to apply their supply chain knowledge to help identify inventory factors contributing to the creation of the optimization model. Overall, this project has been a great success and has been a valuable learning experience for myself and the students.” 

Project Two: Improving recruitment for employers and job seekers

In today’s highly competitive job market, the recruitment industry often struggles with information overload and the ability to effectively match potential candidates with available positions.

To help address this problem, DC faculty researcher Uzair Ahmad and six interns from DC’s Artificial Intelligence Analysis, Design and Implementation and Data Analytics for Business Decision Making graduate certificate programs will work with Reachout Inc., a start-up company that is building a diversified early career community for post-secondary students and an end-to-end virtual recruiting platform for employers, to develop a two-way hybrid recommendation system to support both employers and job seekers. The system will learn relevant content and rank candidates based on the job description. This will result in stronger candidate recommendations for employers while also promoting appropriate job opportunities to candidates.

It will also ensure increased accuracy and explainable recommendations—an innovation that will provide Reachout with a competitive advantage.

The students involved in this research will be integrated into Reachout’s technical team, with direct supervision provided by Thomas Liu, it’s CEO, and will benefit from the ability to leverage the skills and knowledge they’ve acquired in the classroom and apply them to solve businesses challenges in a real-world setting.

“Mitacs is delighted to support these exciting projects at Durham College. By enabling the creation of valuable academic-industry partnerships that provide students with meaningful, paid, experiential-learning opportunities, Mitacs is proud to contribute to innovation in Ontario. These internships are helping partner organizations access Durham’s rich expertise in AI and systems optimization, while contributing to the career development of college students,” said, John Hepburn, CEO and Scientific Director at Mitacs.


About Durham College

With campuses in Oshawa and Whitby, Durham College (DC) offers over 11,000 full-time students access to more than 140 post-secondary programs, including four honours bachelor degree and nine apprenticeship programs.

DC enables students to develop career-ready skills for the ever-changing job market by offering an exceptional college education. With a focus on experiential learning, led by experienced faculty, through field placements, applied research, co-ops and other hands-on opportunities, DC grads are known for having the skills and knowledge employers need.

At the Oshawa campus, the Centre for Collaborative Education brings together local, Indigenous and global communities, featuring the Durham College Spa, Global Classroom and interprofessional simulation and anatomy labs. The campus is also home to several of the college’s applied research centres, including the AI Hub, Centre for Cybersecurity Innovation and Mixed Reality Capture Studio. Additionally, the flexible, fully automated, and industrial-grade Integrated Manufacturing Centre serves as a model of the new standards in education in advanced manufacturing, mechatronics and engineering. 

At DC’s Whitby campus, construction has begun on the new Skills Training Centre. Designed to shine a spotlight on skilled trades training, innovation and education, this building will expand the college’s capacity to provide students with hands-on training, access to simulators and other forms of instruction in shop labs for carpentry, HVAC, welding, elevating devices, crane operation, automotive, millwright and plumbing, among others. 

The campus also features the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food, which includes the award-winning Bistro ’67, a full-service, teaching-inspired restaurant, and Pantry, a retail store featuring food grown and prepared by students in the college’s horticulture, culinary and cook apprenticeship programs.

Media contact:
Durham College
Meghan Ney
Communications and Marketing
m: 416-648-5453