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September 27, 2001 12:59 PM

Automotive Manufacturer’s Donation Advances Welding Education

The Guelph campus of Conestoga College, which specializes in skilled trades and engineering technology education, is the beneficiary of a gift of two automotive production line robotic welders, thanks to the generosity of CAMI Automotive Inc.

CAMI President Simon Boag officially presented the equipment to Conestoga President John Tibbits at a special ceremony in Guelph on Thursday, September 27. In attendance were faculty and students from Conestoga’s welding programs, College and CAMI officials, and representatives from government and industry.

"CAMI has a strong commitment to corporate citizenship, and we put particular emphasis on partnerships in education,” Mr. Boag said. "This is an excellent example of how industry can provide resources to help our schools train the skilled workers we need for the future.”

The equipment, which has been used in production at CAMI, consists of a Motoman MIG welding robot, a Fanuc robot with an Obara weld gun, machine controller units, operational accessories, and appropriate electric cables and air lines. For the College to acquire this equipment new would call for an expenditure of at least $250,000.

"For Conestoga College to meet its mandate, prove its excellence and grow as an engine of economic development for our region, it is vital that we establish partnerships with industry,” President Tibbits said. "This welcome and useful donation promotes the training of more, highly skilled welding professionals to meet industry’s needs. I sincerely thank CAMI Automotive, and I look forward to a continuation of our productive relationship.”

CAMI Automotive, an independent joint venture based in Ingersoll, Ontario, is owned equally by General Motors of Canada Ltd. and Suzuki Motor Corporation. CAMI produces small sport utility vehicles -- the Chevrolet Tracker and Suzuki Vitara. CAMI has approximately 1,950 team members. Hourly team members are represented by CAW Local 88. CAMI’s quality management system is registered to ISO 9001 standards; its environmental management system to ISO 14001.

For three consecutive years, Conestoga has been Ontario’s overall number one community college, according to satisfaction surveys conducted independently for the province’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. The College is ISO 9001 registered. Annual full-time enrolment is approximately 5,800; part-time registrations exceed 42,000. Academically comprehensive in scope, Conestoga College prepares its graduates for careers in engineering technology and skilled trades, business, information technology, media and communications, and health sciences and community services.

CONTACTS: Karsten Madsen (Conestoga College), 519-824-9390, ext. 161 < kmadsen@conestogac.on.ca > Alex Riddell (CAMI Automotive Inc.), 519-425-3141, ext. 4730 < alex.riddell@cami.ca >

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BACKGROUND

In 1988, a number of faculty from Conestoga College and Fanshawe College (London) went to CAMI Automotive on a six-month professional development secondment. During this time, they studied Japanese manufacturing methods and assisted with the training of newly-hired CAMI personnel.

Faculty from the Welding programs of Conestoga College continued to be involved with CAMI subsequently. Selected faculty were able to visit Japan, spending time at firms such as Suzuki Motors and at Motoman, a manufacturer of welding robots. Conestoga faculty helped develop robotic and welding training courses for CAMI, actually providing some of the training at the CAMI facility in Ingersoll.

The donation by CAMI of equipment used in the manufacture of vehicles in Ingersoll consists of a Motoman MIG welding robot, a Fanuc robot with an Obara weld gun, and appropriate accessories, electric cables and air lines. For Conestoga College to acquire this equipment new would cost an estimated $250,000.

Students at the Guelph campus of Conestoga will benefit by developing robotic programming skills on a variety of robotic systems associated with a wide range of industrial applications, in addition to applications specific to the auto industry.

Students should be able to start working with these robots towards the end of the fall semester, with the first use being in the Welding Automation and Tooling course, which is part of the third year of study in the Welding Engineering Technology program. In the winter term, students in the second-year Robotic Welding course will begin using the donated robots.

These robots will also be applicable to the welding training Conestoga provides in the lab portion of two courses for students in the University of Waterloo’s Mechanical Engineering - Welding Specialization program. The University of Waterloo students travel to Conestoga’s Guelph campus for this instruction.

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