Industry Partnership a Catalyst for New Innovative Manufacturing Program

Image credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic
Image credit: Saskatchewan Polytechnic

By Dr. Larry Rosia, president and CEO 

Manufacturing is a key sector in Saskatchewan, contributing about 7 percent of the province’s Gross Domestic Product. Manufacturing shipments totalled around $14.1 billion in 2015, according to the most recent provincial government statistics available.

The importance of this sector is a primary reason @saskpolytech announced its Innovative Manufacturing diploma program last fall. This two-year program, set to begin at our Regina campus in September, will allow students to practice skills and complete projects using industry-standard tools and equipment.

The program offers a wide range of skill-based and hands-on training with technologies and computer programs. The hands-on training component is critically important; students will receive a two-week, industry-based work placement. This means they will graduate with practical experience—experience they can apply at the workplace once employed.

Industry played a key role in the decision to begin the program. Companies identified a need for multi-skilled workers—workers who need the education and right skills, particularly ones that are technology-focused, to adapt to the changing manufacturing landscape.

Partnerships with industry, business and government enable Sask Polytech to create and modify programs that are both relevant and timely. About 700 people—industry leaders, practitioners and graduates—sit on our Program Advisory Committees and offer advice on program development and delivery.

Having access to that expertise—be it in manufacturing, accounting, critical care nursing or any of the other dozens of programs we offer—is a huge advantage because a well-trained workforce helps support economic growth throughout the province.

In addition to the program itself, Sask Polytech is establishing a Centre for Manufacturing Technology and Innovation at the Regina Campus. The centre will house the new Gene Haas Manufacturing Technology Lab, which will have state-of-the-art equipment and technology and will serve as the site of future extensive applied research.

A $453,000 donation from the Gene Haas Foundation is enabling Saskatchewan Polytechnic to undertake renovations to advance the institution’s vision of being globally recognized as the first-choice polytechnic in Canada. Renovations will include a new non-slip floor, installation of windows, removal of old equipment, updates to power supplies, and updated classrooms and computer labs.

We anticipate that beginning in the fall of 2018, when the Innovative Manufacturing #manufacturing diploma program is at full capacity, nearly 100 students in the Machinist and Welding certificate and Innovative Manufacturing diploma programs will undertake all or part of their training in the Centre for Manufacturing Technology and Innovation.

This program, along with the centre, is one of the most exciting projects Saskatchewan Polytechnic has undertaken.

It is exciting because the program offers students a path towards a very good career in a key industry sector. And it is exciting because it illustrates what can happen when industry and post-secondary institutions collaborate.

The end result will be a stronger workforce—and an even more competitive Saskatchewan.

Published August 2017.