2022: The year in review

As 2022 comes to a close, we are facing a post-pandemic reality that needs polytechnic education more than ever. Among the solutions they offer, polytechnics help address labour shortages and pressing climate change challenges. They are helping business partners overcome obstacles to innovation and offering students state-of-the-art training spaces. They also ensure the values of equity, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of their work, finding new ways to reach broader audiences and underrepresented communities.

We have identified a few examples of the impact our members made this year:

Cutting-edge Facilities

Our members are constantly improving and adapting their facilities to ensure the learning experiences they provide are aligned with the real-world challenges students will face in the workplace. These collaborative spaces are not only beneficial to students, but also to the communities and regional economies that they serve.

  • With a $12.5 million contribution from the Manitoba government, RRC Polytech is establishing an Interdisciplinary Health Sciences and Community Services Simulation Centre, an immersive lab that will simulate real-life disasters and emergencies for students across 15 programs.
  • Algonquin announced that it will be building a new $1.5 million research development institute, which will embed applied research in its cultural fabric and ensure the college’s self-sufficiency, sustainability and resilience.
  • The Waterloo Region’s business community received a boost from Conestoga with the opening of a new innovation lab at the Communitech Hub in Kitchener, which will provide student entrepreneurs with broader opportunities to participate in the regional innovation ecosystem.

Sustainable Innovation

Our members are at the forefront of sustainable innovation. From developing technology that will improve the environmental performance of the oil sands to constructing net-zero emission buildings, our members are delivering on their commitment to build a more sustainable world.

  • Construction continued on George Brown College’s award winning Limberlost Place, a net-zero carbon emissions building that will harness green energy from the surrounding environment and has already become a global model for mass timber sustainable construction.
  • The British Columbia Institute of Technology is showcasing its commitment to sustainability by ecologically restoring a 3,860 m2 parking lot adjacent to the Guichon forest. Using soil dug out during the construction of their new Health Sciences Centre, ecological restoration students have transformed the lot into a rich, biologically diverse environment.
  • As part of its commitment to improving the economic and environmental performance of the oil sands industry, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology developed a one-of-a-kind Membrane Technology Assessment Program to test new membrane water treatment technologies in simulated oil sands field conditions.
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University received funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council to conduct vital research into accelerating agricultural innovation to address climate change challenges.

Supporting Underserved Communities

Our members are incorporating a focus on equity, diversity and inclusion into every aspect of their institutions – from the programs they offer to the research projects they pursue to the inventions they develop. 

  • A team of Humber College students captured first place at an annual design competition with their creation of a fully electric, autonomous concept vehicle designed for Canadians with a disability.
  • A Saskatchewan Polytechnic research team worked with the La Loche community to explore innovative new ways of supporting the mental health of Indigenous youth, including using VR technology to bridge gaps in remote access.
  • Seneca established the HERizons program, which is helping to dismantle gender barriers in the workplace by providing free career support and training for women re-entering the workforce or preparing for new careers.

Collaborating in Education

Our members are establishing partnerships with organizations in a variety of sectors, allowing students to benefit from the invaluable support, expertise and real-world experience these collaborations provide.

  • Calgary’s leading hotels welcomed Hospitality and Tourism Management students from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology for a 12-week practicum to apply their skills in a real-world setting and establish career-boosting relationships.
  • An agreement with Finland’s JAMK University of Applied Sciences put Fanshawe College at the forefront of cybersecurity education and research. The partnership opens exciting opportunities, such as the future construction of a replica of the Finnish school’s cyber training centre at Fanshawe’s London Campus.
  • Sheridan has partnered with WarnerMedia Access Canada and the City of Toronto to introduce a Virtual Production micro-credential, which will help students, particularly from underrepresented communities, develop the in-demand skills needed for success in the visual effects industry.

As we close out 2022, we are inspired by the projects, programs and partnerships making a difference in the lives of the people and communities that polytechnic institutions serve. We look forward to seeing how these initiatives and many others evolve in 2023 and beyond, as polytechnics continue on their mandate to make Canada more innovative, productive and inclusive.

About the Author

Elizabeth Fleet

Elizabeth Fleet is the Communications Assistant at Polytechnics Canada