Federal Minister Tours Lambton College and Research Park

The Sarnia Observer (August 19, 2014) -- Ed Holder, Canada's minister of state for science and technology, dropped by Sarnia Tuesday to see what $505,000 buys.

The federal government announced the funding back in April to help Lambton College to purchase equipment needed in four research projects, including work by professor Shahram Karimi to develop and optimize nano-engineered materials for green energy conversion and storage.

Karimi led Holder and Sarnia-Lambton MP Pat Davidson on a tour of the colleges alternative energy lab in the morning. They were scheduled to visit the Bowman Centre at the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park after lunch.

The morning tour included a stop at a piece of X-ray equipment purchased with part of the federal funding.

"It will be operational in about two weeks," said Karimi, who holds a research chair with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

The equipment will be used on several research projects the college is carrying out with industrial partners from Sarnia, and elsewhere in Ontario, and will end trips researchers have had to make to Western University in London, or the University of Toronto, to access similar machines there.

"It was time-consuming and quite expensive," Karimi said about the travel required in the past.

"We can basically prepare the samples and analyze them on the same day, as opposed to waiting weeks, or sometimes months, to get the results."

College president Judith Morris, who accompanied the federal politicians on the tour, said Lambton has 32 active research projects, and is working to establish a multi-million-dollar bio-industrial research centre.

One of the benefits of research is providing college students with valuable experience, Morris said.

"Those are the students who are going to get hired, and they will have incredible critical-thinking and problem-solving skills."

Research also allows the college to attract highly-qualified staff, as well as linking the school to the community and helping its economy to move forward, she said.

"I was exceptionally impressed with what I saw today," Holder said following the college tour. "We saw the highest level of technologies that are being developed, right here in Sarnia."

Holder said "it's critical" that research in Canada is being carried out at colleges, as well as at universities, and includes collaboration with industry.

"One of the things that impresses with me with Sarnia, is how businesses step up," he said.

During a presentation following the tour, Morris thanked Davidson for her support as the college has pursued federal funding.

"This institution has earned its reputation as one of Canada's top applied research colleges," Davidson said.

- Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer