24 August 2016

"And the end of our exploring..."

"...is to arrive from where we started. And know the place for the first time."

This line from TS Eliot is a fitting epigraph for my final week at George Brown College. Over the past 9 years I have led the development of applied research at GBC, in Ontario and across Canada, working in concert with many outstanding people inside the college and out. College applied research has grown exponentially over the years into a viable and complementary component of a healthy innovation ecosystem in Canada.

The history - in metrics - of GBC Research since 2007: 781 partnerships; 7592 Student research experiences; $96M in research funding from public and private partners; 724 Applied research collaborations; 180 Research-active faculty members; 7 Academic partners. 
I am very proud of these accomplishments, but I am most proud of the 7592 students who now have innovation literacy. They are the future of our country, flexible innovators who will be integral members of teams no matter their careers or profession.

Two students have been members of our Innovation Advisory Board. Comments from each are below, which speak volumes for the work that the college system does in fostering industry innovation while ensuring that students like these gain innovation skills so essential to the future of our society and economy.
James Henderson: "As one of the 7,500 students who have participated in applied research during your tenure, I can attest to the profound impact such opportunities have on us. The skills we acquire, the network we form and the experience we gain makes our transition into the workforce so much easier. For so many of us, applied research has allowed us to explore interests and discover passions we might not otherwise have known were there."   
John-Allan Ellingson: "I'm glad to have been a part of the 'Luke Generation' of researchers, and the experiences I had with the group have been extremely valuable in the time since. I am confident that they secured me my current internship, certainly I drew from them heavily during interviewing. It could be the solution to the 'Entry level position: 3 years experience required' problem - possible marketing opportunity." Beyond helping students through the difficult post-graduation period, exposure to the wide spectrum of industries involved with the R&I office will remain career-long assets for the cohort of student researchers. With one foot now in the working world, I'm starting to better understand this - how a problem tackled in the Food Service or Assistive Device realm provides solutions for Construction and elsewhere, with the right perspective - and appreciate how rare the experience was. I'm sure that fostering this ecosystem, and its added value for students, ranks highly among your successes at GBC.
If anything exemplifies why I have been so committed to this work it is contained in these statements.

As of next week I take up the role of Vice President, Research and Innovation at OCAD University. You can find periodic updates here, connect with me on LinkedIn, and follow me on Twitter @LukeRobert.