Let’s start with your professional background.
I have two diplomas from the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB), one in machining and the other in Computer Numeric Command (CNC) programming and operating.
Early on in my career I moved to Ottawa and I worked in various fields such as aerospace, defense and high-precision optics where I worked in a management role. In the late 2000’s I moved back to New Brunswick, got a position at the college and immersed myself into R&D and applied research.
How did your previous work inform you for this role?
Before coming to CCNB, I saw [industry] problems and its hurdles from a front row seat, if not the driver’s seat. In these fields, there is a lot of quality assurance, heavy procedures and a lot of red tape. So my previous work experience helped me better understand the challenges that companies go through when integrating new technologies. And around this time, I also received my red-seal endorsements in machining.
So what do you do now at CCNB?
When I started, I was part of a small team that was in the bootstrapping stages of putting together an applied research facility in advanced manufacturing.
Now, I play several roles, although my title is Industry Liaison Officer (ILO), my role is to have enough knowledge to sell the service and have researchers with me to do the work. I do contractual agreements between researchers and industry, funding chasing, coordinating internal operations, strategic development and making sure the budgets and timelines are respected for our clients.
What other industry initiatives has the College done?
In 2012 we launched the Advanced Welding Initiative. This project allowed us to pay the salaries and ramp up our services for a couple of welding engineers, a new manager and to get some new equipment.
At this time, the campus was looking into different industries that they could start training for, and welding technology was close to the bottom of the list. But, this initiative and the international partnerships that we were developing for it, moved it to the top.
Now, we’re pushing to have more collaborations between teaching and R&D that is directly done with the industry.
What other industries is CCNB supporting?
In Bathurst, we focus on six main industries: advanced manufacturing, advanced welding, laboratory metallurgy services, advanced robotics and automation and analytics. We help with things like, analyzing the production chain and making improvements.
And we have other research facilities that are specific in their abilities. We have environmental and agriculture services, microbiology, food and beverage research, chemistry services, and advanced materials across all our campuses. We’re pretty diverse in our areas of expertise.
Why is rural innovation important for the region?
It’s essential for Atlantic Canada because, although we do have urban clusters throughout the region, they’re not that big. A large portion of the population are still in rural areas and are spread over a vast geographical area. So, we’re trying not to just concentrate our areas of focus on companies that are in the immediate area, we open to provide our services to all of Atlantic Canada.
With that in mind, what are the benefits of working in Bathurst?
The fact that we are rural ourselves means we had to have a broader scope right from the start. When we first opened our Technology Access Centre it went from being local, to provincial and today its impact extends to all of Atlantic Canada, and the country as a whole. We don’t limit our services to Atlantic Canada only.
How does being a part of the Springboard network support this work at CCNB?
Being a part of the Springboard network is the key piece to the puzzle that allows myself and CCNB to grow. Springboard has given us the tools to deal with certain industries, the nuance of the do’s and don’ts, outside sources to train us in things like sales and IP knowledge, to name a few examples.
CCNB was at a very new and emerging stage ten years ago when we started to be part of the Springboard network. Now, we’ve grown to the point, with advice and guidance of Springboard, where we hold some key resources in Canada that can help with applied research.
What motivates you in this work?
I’m a people pleaser. My end goal is to help people and this role puts me in the position where I can help people and companies. If I was an employee within a company, I would be just helping that one company grow and enrich only a few people. But in my role at CCNB-INNOV, I’m able to transfer my knowledge and my defined skillset to really help an entire industry, and in general across all fields.
As well I get to be a part of an excellent team here at the college who are very knowledgeable and inspire me. It’s the best working environment I could envision for myself ever.