Conestoga College has received a gift of funding and mentorship from customized automation systems provider Eclipse Automation, part of Accenture, headquartered in Cambridge, Ontario. The donation will support the college's new Skilled Trades Campus as well as its School of Engineering & Technology.
The gift from Eclipse Automation will help provide skills and experience that graduates need to build successful careers in engineering and manufacturing jobs.
Opened in September 2022 on a 41-acre property in Cambridge, Conestoga’s Skilled Trades Campus is a state-of-the-art facility designed specifically for the delivery of apprenticeship and post-secondary programs in the skilled trades. When fully realized, the campus will support the consolidation and expansion of the college’s full complement of trades education and training programs at a single location that will showcase the potential of trades careers and a magnet for participants from across southern Ontario, the GTA and beyond.
The gift from Eclipse Automation, pledged over five years, will help provide skills and experience that graduates need to build successful careers in engineering and manufacturing jobs. It covers investment in continued campus development and support for students through scholarships, coaching and mentoring activities, as well as more part-time, co-op and apprenticeship work opportunities at Eclipse Automation.
These opportunities include ongoing part-time positions for international students as getting a foot in the door can be the most difficult part of launching a career for those new to Canada. Eclipse Automation team members will also devote “know-how equity.” They will, for example, attend kick-off meetings of students’ projects, help with the design review and acceptance testing, and be available for the “Phone-a-friend” initiative, where students can call Eclipse Automation mentors to assist them with any technical questions that arise during their project work.
“Our gifts will help skilled trades and engineering students at Conestoga College graduate better prepared to take on the high-tech roles of future industry,” said Mark Lewis, CEO, Eclipse Automation. “This opportunity to collaborate with Conestoga College means a lot to us because we recognize how essential nurturing talent and growing a skilled, motivated workforce is to local and global success.”
In recognition of the gift, Eclipse Automation will receive naming rights to the Mechatronics Lab at the Skilled Trades Campus and the Automation Capstone Shop located at the college’s Engineering campus on Fountain Street in Cambridge.
“We are deeply grateful to Eclipse Automation and Accenture for their partnership and investment in Conestoga and our students,” said John Tibbits, President of Conestoga. “This generous gift will provide essential support in our efforts to provide more career-focused learning opportunities for students preparing for successful careers and futures. It will also contribute to the well-being and prosperity of our communities as we work together to build an essential talent pipeline to address urgent skilled workforce needs.”
Canada’s skilled trades workforce faces a looming crisis. According to a 2021 report by the Royal Bank of Canada, current shortages will be amplified as an additional 700,000 skilled tradespeople are expected to retire by 2028. Many existing workers will be required to boost their skills as technology continues to evolve and industry needs change.
Conestoga is a provincial leader in the delivery of trades and apprenticeship training to serve industry needs and the growing community. Comprehensive programming includes a wide range of programs that provide pathways to employment in skilled trades careers as well as pre-apprenticeship training and in-school training for apprentices. For more information, visit the School of Trades & Apprenticeship.
Eclipse Automation founder Steve Mai is a 1993 graduate of Conestoga’s Tool & Die Maker apprenticeship program. In 2014, Mai was recognized as a Conestoga Alumnus of Distinction for his contributions to the community and industry and represented the college at the Premier’s Awards as a nominee in the Technology category.
Eclipse Automation was recently acquired by Accenture and is now a part of the company’s engineering and manufacturing service, Industry X.