07 May 2012

Polytechnics produce innovative thinkers, makers

The Polytechnics Canada annual conference is being held tomorrow at Sheridan College. The theme this year is  “Polytechnic Education Works: Talent and Innovation for Employers.” It's a fitting focus given the need for Canada to re-imagine our approach to training the talent for the innovation economy. Expert panels feature the future of manufacturing and industry+academic engagement. The conference features a closing address by The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology and Minister responsible for Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

On manufacturing, there is a very timely piece in the Economist on The third industrial revolution, which examines what others have called the Maker Movement. This is important for Canada in that being able to make things is both an output and driver of innovation. After years of off-shoring the manufacturing of goods, the Maker Movement is giving rise to a new generation of skilled engineers and crafts people who are busying themselves with the connections between thinking, making and innovation literacy. My recent post on reindustrialization refers to the rise of Making in Britain as well. Having the capacity in-country to devise, design and deliver is essential to the health of our economy, and represents a key area where polytechnic education pays dividends.

And speaking of paying dividends from polytechnic education, George Brown College professor Leo Salemi recently led a team of talented students to a first place finish at the Canadian final of the Microsoft Imagine Cup. Read about Team Greeni on Leo's website. Their project on smart electrical consumption using the Microsoft Kinect is an example of the kind of innovation Canada needs to remain (and increase) competitiveness. Team Greeni is now off to the world finals in Sydney, Australia. Congratulations to Leo and his team: Alecsander Granger, Timur Sharaftinov, Dmitry Zhivotovsky  and Vasily Gurin.

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