Originally published in the Toronto Star and on innovatingcanada.ca.
As governments, organizations, and industries worldwide continue to respond to the climate crisis, George Brown College’s School of Mechanical Engineering Technologies provides a critical training ground for future innovators eager to build sustainable solutions and systems.
George Brown College (GBC) programs prepare problem solvers and trailblazers for exciting careers in the manufacturing, machining, robotics and advanced prototyping sectors and other industries, including electric vehicles and building automation and construction. One of GBC’s most recent program additions trains the next generation of utilities and power grid professionals.
Energizing the utility sector with new talent
In 2022, the GBC launched the Electromechanical Engineering — Power and Control program, developed in collaboration with Toronto Hydro. As Ontario works to meet rising electricity demands and other challenges related to the power grid, Power and Control students are developing theoretical knowledge and getting hands-on industry experience to hit the ground running after graduation.
“The Power and Control program highlights how, as a proud polytechnic institution focused on applied education, GBC meets the needs of students and industry,” says Dr. Adel Esayed, Dean of the Centre for Construction and Engineering Technologies at GBC.
“And we’re very proud of the industry partnerships we have and continue to develop. These relationships provide so many benefits. They inform program development, give employers access to new talent and ideas, and provide students with a deeper understanding of the opportunities and needs of their future industry.”
GBC is a member of Polytechnics Canada and the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists (OACETT). This means that the college focuses on applied and practical learning. It also means GBC responds to industry needs, offering flexible lifelong learning opportunities, fostering innovation, and providing paths for students anywhere on the post-secondary path to gain relevant and in-demand skills.
Jennifer Stulberg, Toronto Hydro’s Director of Talent Management & Culture, says the utility has shown its commitment to investing in its future employees by partnering with GBC.
“Toronto Hydro is dedicated to investing in future talent by giving back to the diverse community we serve,” she says. “Through programming support, co-op, and experiential learning, we offer students opportunities to explore the electricity sector and become a part of our most valuable source of energy … our employees.”
Preparing professionals for green engineering tech careers
GBC’s strong ties to industry mean it can respond to developments quickly. For example, in 2022, the college also launched a fully online Electric Vehicle (EV) Technician program. It trains highly sought-after professionals to install and service EV charging stations and fix vehicles. This program is flexible so that students can start at any time. The virtual delivery also makes it easier for professionals to retrain and upskill while working.
Additionally, as Ontario continues to plan for a housing building boom, GBC’s Electromechanical Engineering — Building Automation program is training future green professionals who can install and maintain complex automated systems to improve safety, maximize efficiency and reduce costs.
“We’re preparing students to maintain and troubleshoot problems in existing systems in a range of sectors, and we’re also showing them how to innovate and create new solutions for the future,” says James McIntyre, Chair of the School of Mechanical Engineering Technologies at GBC. “Our graduates are in demand and trained in emerging technologies and industry trends.”
Making great ideas a reality with research and innovation opportunities
The School of Mechanical Engineering Technologies also collaborates with industry through GBC Research and Innovation and its Product Development Exchange (PDx). This is where students work on iterative prototype development using tools like 3D printers, laser and water jet cutters, CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines, and mechanical and electrical component building and testing equipment.
The PDx recently worked with Toronto startup Plastic Flux to address a common waste problem in the city — the inability to recycle black plastics. GBC worked with Plastic Flux to custom build a sheet press needed to form shredded black plastic into moulds, which are then turned into useful household products, including furniture.
“As a result of our partnership, we have the actual sheet press, the first in Canada,” says Plastic Flux Co-Founder Hanson Wong, “and we’re at a stage where we’re manufacturing products as well as continuing to prototype new products we can bring to the market.”