Students at Conestoga have the opportunity to engage in some fascinating research: applied research that has very tangible outcomes benefitting both the student and local companies. Sometimes there are even broader results, such as the recent partnership with Diftek Lasers Inc.
After receiving FedDev ARC extension funding, the project commenced in 2012 and by March 2013, a successful outcome emerged. Professor Jim Smith, Principal Investigator, along with student research assistant Harry (Xiao) Han and the team were challenged to develop a manufacturing process to reliably produce several prototypes of an optical-fibre tool used in cancer research. This tool is used in Photo-Dynamic Therapy (PDT) cancer treatment, an alternative to chemotherapy that uses photo-activated drugs to locally kill small tumors.
It was the ideal project scenario: a company that had a need along the commercialization path, approached Conestoga's Applied Research group, and a student was mobilized. Supported by Diftek and the team at Conestoga, Harry was directly involved with testing out ways to manufacture this new tool, and coming up with a solution. "This provided the ability to make an important breakthrough that could only have happened here. It was necessary to have Conestoga involved to move this project forward," shares Doug Dykaar, Founder, Diftek Lasers Inc.
Students in Conestoga's Integrated Telecommunications and Computer Technologies program are well prepared for challenge and innovation. "Conestoga's ITCT faculty and students are capable of working outside their normal comfort zone to develop new manufacturing processes and techniques through applied research projects for companies like Diftek Lasers, proving our polytechnic advantage to our community." Ignac Kolenko, P. Eng., Chair, School of Engineering and Information Technology.
Greg Robertson, Director of Applied Research and Innovation at Conestoga, sees the incredible value in these research partnerships every day. "The student himself gains tremendous research and industry experience, the company enjoys a dedicated and knowledgeable student working on a focused project with a useful outcome, and the College continues to build strong partnerships with the corporate community."