St. Clair College has been awarded a $500,000 grant by the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) to launch the Regional Future Workforce Program, a program designed to get more children and youth engaged in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The grant ends on December 15, 2023.
St. Clair College is working in collaboration with several community partners on this project, including Centerline (Windsor) Limited, FIRST Robotics Canada, Invest Windsor-Essex, WEtech Alliance, and Women Enterprise Skills Training (WEST) of Windsor. Together, the team is preparing a pilot program designed to encourage students to pursue careers in the automotive and mobility sector, set to launch in September 2023 in schools. According to Waseem Habash, Senior Vice President of Academic & College Operations at St. Clair College, this program is important to the region for several reasons, "It has created a strong working partnership among industry partners, post-secondary education, and four local school boards in Windsor/Essex and Chatham/Lambton/Kent. All the constituent groups are so excited about this partnership that future synergies are already being explored to help enhance STEM training. Providing a venue for post-secondary students to engage with k-12 learners in a hands-on training environment, creates opportunities for mentorship and the ability of all learners to acquire prudent STEM knowledge in a relaxed and fun atmosphere."
Regional Future Workforce Program Brings Robots to The Classroom This Fall
The program will be piloted in both Windsor-Essex County and Chatham-Kent and will focus on early introductions to automobility, skilled trades, and robotics. As part of the program, funds will be used to purchase over 500 robots, with an aim to impact 1000 students in the local community. These robots will play a hands-on role in the program, teaching lessons on coding, programming, automation, and electric vehicle powertrain. Furthermore, this initiative will offer students valuable insights into future STEM careers, specifically in the field of automobility. Nationally, the greatest challenges faced by the automobility sector are raising awareness and addressing labour issues. Larry Koscielski, Vice President of Process & Technology Development from CenterLine, notes the importance of industry-supporting initiatives that inspire the future generation to be interested in STEM, "As a global automation company, we wholeheartedly support initiatives that ignites a passion for STEM learning, at any age. We actively collaborate with schools, endorse co-op programs, and champion OYAP and women in STEM programs. As a family-owned business, we gladly accept the responsibility of industry playing an active part in building tomorrow’s desperately needed workforce in trades and engineering." This is echoed by WEtech Alliance's President and CEO, Yvonne Pilon "STEM skills are the fuel that drives innovation, economic growth, and technological advancements, and by investing in and nurturing our region's STEM talent, we can position Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent as a hub of excellence, opportunity, and prosperity."
Unprecedented Collaboration Between Industry, Government, And Academia
The Engaging the Future Automobility Generation team is taking a proactive, community-driven approach by working in partnership with the Greater Essex County District School Board, Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, Lambton Kent District School Board, and St. Clair Catholic District School Board. In doing so, the program hopes to spark students’ interest early. Dave Ellis, President of FIRST Robotics Canada, highlights the advantages of early exposure to STEM education, specifically the competitive advantages it provides children, "As technology advances, STEM skills are increasingly in demand. Early exposure to STEM gives children a competitive edge, equipping them with vital skills for the modern workforce, and fostering creativity, critical thinking, and teamwork. Introducing STEM early also helps bridge the gender gap, as research confirms equal interest and capability in both boys and girls. Closing these gaps in underrepresented groups needs to be a top priority."
While the funds were awarded to St. Clair College, the pilot program delivery will tie in the expertise of both St. Clair College's School of Engineering Technologies, as well as the University of Windsor's Faculty of Education. The program will focus on mentorship and hands-on interactive STEM lessons.
To prepare for a September start, the STEM program will be piloted as a summer camp, hosted at St. Clair College. Several community groups will be welcomed on campus to engage in the program and provide input on program design and curriculum. Ensuring that all students feel welcome is a key piece to the program, as research suggests stigma exists in STEM fields. Rose Anguiano Hurst, Executive Director for WEST of Windsor is thrilled to be a part of this partnership, recognizing the significance and opportunity this program could have on local students in the region, "WEST recognizes shortages in the skilled trades and values early access to STEM education for students. We are thrilled to be part of the OVIN project, engaging youth in hands-on STEMS programs to cultivate their curiosity about careers in STEM."
Further Strengthens Windsor-Essex as The Automobility Capital of Canada
This program will help the region to continue to solidify itself as the Automobility Capital of Canada by ensuring that local students are exposed to pathways and opportunities that exist in the generations to come. "Windsor-Essex has been a leader in automotive manufacturing for over a century and continues to lead the nation in next-generation vehicle production. With continued advancement and investment in this sector, it is critical to provide the support and programming needed to ensure a strong and skilled labour force to meet industry demands. The Regional Future Workforce Program will provide our region’s youth with the STEM skills necessary to succeed in the automobility space. As the leader for the OVIN Windsor-Essex Regional Technology Development Site, we are excited to participate in this program and teach the future workforce how to embrace and utilize advanced technologies that will fuel future industry development." Stephen MacKenzie, President and CEO, Invest WindsorEssex.
- OVIN is a collaborative network focused on advancing Ontario’s commercialization and adoption of the next-generation electric, connected, and autonomous vehicle and mobility technologies. Established by the Ontario government, OVIN brings together industry, academia, and government organizations to support research and development, promote partnerships, and drive economic growth for the automotive and transportation sector in the province.
About St. Clair College
- St. Clair College is an educational institution that offers students a wide range of programs and courses in the fields of technologies and the arts, featuring campuses in both Windsor and Chatham-Kent. St. Clair College continues to position itself as a leading institution in the automobility sector by actively embracing and promoting innovation, research, and hands-on learning opportunities. With a focus on programs and initiatives that emphasize automobility, skilled trades, and robotics, the college is equipping students with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in this evolving industry. By fostering partnerships with industry leaders and providing state-of-the-art facilities and resources, St. Clair College is solidifying its position as a preferred choice for students seeking a comprehensive education and practical experience in the automobility sector.
- CenterLine is a Windsor-based, family-owned corporation specializing in advanced automation technologies and joining processes that satisfy resistance welding, mig welding, metal forming, and cold spray applications. Our main customers include OEMs and Tier suppliers in the automotive, mass transit, aerospace and defence industries. We have 4 plants in Windsor and 7 others globally to support our international customers. With over 65 years of business experience and over 1,250 Global team members, CenterLine delivers state-of-the-art technologies and processes that assist our customers in maintaining their competitive advantage.
About FIRST Robotics Canada
- FIRST Robotics Canada is a registered charity funded partially by the Province of Ontario with a mission to engage young people in experiences in STEM and robotics to inspire young people to pursue further studies and careers in the field of science, technology and engineering. They do this primarily through robotics competitions which teach technical skills of designing, manufacturing, building, and coding, alongside soft skills development of public speaking, critical thinking, time management, conflict resolution and problem-solving, all of which prepare students for successful futures in the workforce.
About Invest Windsor-Essex
- Invest WindsorEssex is the lead economic development agency for the Windsor-Essex region. The focus of the organization is to develop and execute strategies to retain, expand, attract and help new businesses start-up in Windsor-Essex. Invest WindsorEssex is led by a board of distinguished community leaders. A team of professional staff provides assistance with location and investment decisions by working one-on-one with businesses to facilitate the process of starting, growing or locating in Windsor-Essex. investwindsoressex.com
- Invest WindsorEssex also leads the Windsor-Essex Regional Technology Development site (WE RTDS) which is one of seven Regional Technology Development Sites (RTDS) made possible through the Ontario Centre of Innovation's (OCI) Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN) initiative. The WE RTDS specializes in cross-border technology, advanced simulation, virtual reality and automotive cybersecurity. windsoressexrtds.com
About WEtech Alliance
- WEtech Alliance is one of seventeen Regional Innovation Centres, funded by the Province of Ontario, serving the Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent regions. They provide entrepreneurs with business services, training, mentorship and strategic connections to help bring new ideas to market, scale to the next level and build a dynamic culture and a community of innovation. WEtech Alliance has served as the catalyst for technology and innovation in the Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent regions since 2011.
- Women's Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor Inc. (WEST) provides support to women in Windsor-Essex County and works to aid them in achieving their goals through acquiring employment, training and skill development plus aiding newcomers and immigrants with their settlement into our community. WEST has developed its experience and expertise by providing training/services to visible minorities, newcomers, immigrants, and other women in vulnerable positions who are motivated to overcome their situational barriers to reach their employment goals.
For more information regarding the media release contact St. Clair College's Research and Innovation Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.