30 September 2013

SSHRC launches Imagining Canada's Future

I was very pleased to attend the launch event last Thursday of SSHRC's Imagining Canada's Future. This initiative is SSHRC's bold move at defining the future challenge areas that humanities and social science researchers have determined are the most pressing for the country. As SSHRC President Chad Gaffield has opined, the future is about people, and a people-centred innovation approach is essential for Canada to compete globally.

Here, from SSHRC's website, are the six future challenge areas:
Each future challenge area question has sub-questions that will help propel Canadian humanities and social science research well into the 21st century.  As a member of the SSHRC Programs and Quality Committee, I am extremely proud to have been a part of the process of developing this forward looking, provocative, and important work.

SSHRC has produced an excellent video on the Future challenge areas - check it out here.

19 September 2013

GBC Research at the Toronto Mini Maker Faire

George Brown College Research & Innovation is one of the sponsors of the Toronto Mini Maker Faire, being held 21-23 September at Wychwood Barns. The Maker Faire, created by Make magazine, is an event designed to "celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself mindset". Professor Jamie McIntyre, who leads GBC's Advanced Prototyping Lab, will be there with our mechanical engineering design students showcasing the things we “make” here at GBC.

The Maker movement and its relationship to advanced manufacturing has been gaining steam for a few years now. The relationship of our industrial capacity to design and make things is made easier with the advent of prototyping tools such as 3D printers, tool libraries, and the community cohering on the Internet that focuses on making represents the advent of the next industrial revolution. Or, as Thomas Friedman put it recently, "When complexity is free" and you can crowdsource ideas and rapidly iterate prototypes on their way to market, we have a much shorter time from idea to innovation. This is good for a participatory innovation, and has parallels in our basic through to applied research continuum. While many ideas take time to come to fruition, collapsing this time when and where appropriate across all industries and sectors is one way Canada can gain competitiveness.