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$13 million for RDP’s Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing-Technology Access Centre in Alberta Budget

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Provincial funding to expand RDP’s Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing (CIM-TAC) will significantly boost applied learning and research opportunities

Expansion of Red Deer Polytechnic’s nationally recognized Technology Access Centre will provide more than 2,400 students direct and indirect innovative learning opportunities by 2030.

Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP) is celebrating a significant capital investment of $13 million by the provincial government to expand RDP’s Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing-Technology
Access Centre (CIM-TAC). The funding was announced today as part of the Government of Alberta’s 2024 budget.

“Red Deer Polytechnic is playing a critical role supporting technological innovation while creating opportunities for students. That’s why Alberta’s Government is making a strategic investment to expand the CIM-TAC and give RDP even greater capacity to train apprentices and help sectors across our economy remain competitive,” says the Hon. Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Advanced Education.

“We thank the Government of Alberta for the $13 million provided in Budget 2024 to expand our Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing–Technology Access Centre (CIM-TAC). This funding will help create new and innovative teaching and learning spaces at Red Deer Polytechnic, while expanding our applied research capacity to support Alberta based companies,” said Stuart Cullum, President of Red Deer Polytechnic.

“Because of this investment, Alberta based manufacturers across multiple sectors will have greater ability to develop, test and scale their ideas, while RDP students will be engaged at the forefront of made-in-Alberta technologies and manufacturing solutions. This expanded and enhanced innovation ecosystem will enhance productivity and social impact within our province,” said Cullum.

Students in a breadth of RDP’s programs and disciplines already benefit from education and skills-training opportunities within the CIM-TAC each year, through project work, internships, and workshops. The expanded CIM-TAC is anticipated to provide direct learning opportunities to 450 post-secondary students and indirect learning opportunities to an additional 2,000 students by 2030. These opportunities will afford RDP’s students direct interaction with community and industry partners to tackle real-world challenges in manufacturing and
advanced manufacturing. Additionally, over 500 junior and senior high school students will benefit from experiential learning within the CIM-TAC as part of dual-credit opportunities afforded through the Central Alberta Collegiate Institute (CACI).

RDP is Alberta’s third largest provider of skilled trades education. Learners enrolled in RDP’s apprenticeship and technology programs are among those who will benefit from the CIM-TAC expansion as this capital investment will support unique training opportunities.

“With the expansion of Red Deer Polytechnic’s CIM-TAC, our students will gain unparalleled access to advanced manufacturing technologies and immersive learning spaces. Students will have the hands-on experience and expertise needed to excel in the modern manufacturing sector. This expansion underscores our commitment to providing students with the tools and skills necessary to become industry-ready professionals, ensuring they emerge as highly sought-after innovators and contributors to Alberta’s economic prosperity,” says David Pye, Dean, RDP’s School of Trades and Technology.

The provincial Government’s $13 million investment in RDP’s CIM-TAC complements the recently announced historic $20 million gift to RDP from the Donald Family that will establish the Donald Family Institute for Healthtech Innovation. This parallel public and private funding support will be a game-changer for post-secondary training in central Alberta, in particular for healthcare providers and healthtech innovators.

“As RDP’s CIM-TAC grows capacity, it will undoubtedly provide new ways for students and faculty to engage in education and applied research with external health practitioners and researchers in this unique innovation ecosystem. Our students will have even more opportunities to gain valuable skills that prepare them for successful careers while also making meaningful contributions to Alberta’s healthcare sector,” says Heather Dirks, Interim Dean, RDP’s School of Health and Wellness.

Red Deer Polytechnic’s expansion plans for the CIM-TAC are in alignment with the Government of Alberta’s economic and social priorities, including the Ministry of Advanced Education’s 2030: Skills for Jobs Strategy.

This strategy outlines a need to increase student access, build capacity for skills training in technology and trades, and support research and commercialization through the post-secondary sector.

“As one of Canada’s Top 50 Research Polytechnics and Colleges, we already make a significant positive impact across our province and country,” says Dr. Tonya Wolfe, Associate Vice President, Applied Research.

“The future is very bright as we plan for the expansion of our Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing-Technology Access Centre. This means we can create even more impact in productivity in the manufacturing sector through collaboration between students, faculty and industry that help people solve challenges in their daily lives.”

The overall cost of the capital expansion of the CIM-TAC is projected to be approximately $21.3 million. This includes the $13 million provided by the Government of Alberta in Budget 2024, with $4.8 million in capital and equipment provided through Government of Canada grants, and $3.5 million from Red Deer Polytechnic’s own reserves. Construction on Red Deer Polytechnic’s CIM-TAC expansion is anticipated to begin in the fall of 2024.

Quick Facts:
• Red Deer Polytechnic’s expanded CIM-TAC will support a variety of sectors through advanced
manufacturing capabilities including energy innovation, transportation, aviation and agriculture. The Centre will also support RDP’s future expansion into more medical device manufacturing and healthcare innovations to support both patients and providers.
• RDP’s expansion of the CIM-TAC will grow the facility’s footprint from 15,000 square feet to
25,000 square feet.
• The CIM-TAC currently houses $7.6 million of advanced manufacturing equipment. As the facility expands, so too will RDP’s capacity to house additional technologies and equipment used for product development, advanced manufacturing and medical device manufacturing.
• In 2022, Red Deer Polytechnic attracted more than $2 million in applied research investment. RDP also completed 64 projects for 57 companies and participated in more than 1,300 engagements with industry partners.
• Since the CIM-TAC’s inception in 2009, Red Deer Polytechnic has supported more than 300 industry partners (including repeat clients).

Education

Schools shouldn’t sacrifice student performance to vague notions of ‘equity’

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From the Fraser Institute

By Derek J. Allison

According to a new study published by the Fraser Institute, if Canada wants to remain competitive with emerging economies around the world, we must increase our math, science and reading scores—and not simply pursue high levels of “equity and inclusion” as the primary goal for our schools.

Indeed, highly equitable and inclusive schools—with declining PISA scores, as is currently the case in Canada—do a disservice to students and society at large.

Why? Because higher test scores translate into greater “knowledge capital”—that is, the full body of knowledge available to an economy—and boost economic growth (and, incidentally, the tax revenues that fund our schools).

Indeed, the goal should be equitable access to a quality education. And the most realistic and meaningful way to measure student progress is through PISA tests, which every three years assess the performance of 15-year-olds worldwide in core subjects of math, science and reading rather than the limited curriculum objectives used in provincial testing, which can only show progress or decline within individual school systems. In today’s world, where competition is truly global, we must know how our students and schools perform compared to their peers in other countries, especially the “Asian Tigers” of Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Tiawan whose rapidly growing economies have been driven by rising PISA scores.

Obviously, countries with higher test scores can teach other countries how to improve—although there are limits and some traps here. Attempting to cut and paste Singapore’s or Korea’s much more meritocratic systems of highly competitive student assessment and selection would be impractical and impolitic in Canada. Even so, policymakers should consider reinstating more meaningful meritocratic norms in Canadian schools to encourage and recognize academic achievement. Nothing succeeds like success, except recognized and rewarded success.

Closer to home, other provinces could benefit from considering why Quebec is such a stellar performer in math and why Alberta has the highest overall PISA test score average of all provinces.

But fair warning, recent attempts at school improvement in Canada show that top-down one-size-fits-all changes—including extending compulsory attendance, reducing average class size and tinkering with course content—have had little positive effect on student performance, although they may please teacher unions. If policymakers want to achieve more equitable success for more students, they should introduce more flexibility, school autonomy and choice into our top-heavy centrally regulated school systems. In this respect it may be no accident that the three highest performing, mid-spending provincial K-12 education systems (Alberta, Quebec and Ontario) offer relatively high levels of school choice, although of quite different kinds.

Equity and inclusion are noble goals, but they shouldn’t interfere with student progress. There’s too much at stake, for students and the country.

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Alberta

Expansion planned for Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing at Red Deer Polytechnic

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Investing in innovation at Red Deer Polytechnic

Alberta’s government is expanding student capacity and creating a modern learning environment at Red Deer Polytechnic that will help graduates succeed in the economy of tomorrow.

To support emerging opportunities for students, Alberta’s government will invest $12.9 million to expand the Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing Technology Access Centre (CIM-TAC) at Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP). CIM-TAC is an applied research and innovation centre that gives companies access to state-of-the-art prototyping and manufacturing equipment, along with a multi-disciplinary team with the expertise to turn brilliant ideas into market-ready products.

As Alberta’s economy grows and diversifies, job creators will increasingly seek employees with the skills required to work in advanced manufacturing.

Construction will begin in early 2025 and will increase the centre’s applied research, education and training capacity. The expanded CIM-TAC will grow to provide work-integrated learning opportunities for an estimated 450 post-secondary students and training through workshops and events to an additional 2,000 students annually by 2030. Additionally, more than 500 junior and senior high school students will take part in dual credit programs at the CIM-TAC.

“Investing in this expansion of CIM-TAC will give students at RDP access to cutting-edge technology and skills to succeed in the economy of tomorrow. The strategic investments we’re making in Budget 2024 are part of a forward-looking path to support the goals of our post-secondary institutions, grow Alberta’s economy and create jobs.”

Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Advanced Education

“The expansion will allow Alberta-based manufacturers across multiple sectors to have greater ability to develop, test and scale their ideas. Students will be engaged at the forefront of made-in-Alberta technologies and manufacturing solutions.This investment will help meet high demand from entrepreneurs and industry for applied research and will take the facility beyond its current capabilities to become an advanced technology training and hands-on learning centre.”

Nate Horner, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance

“This expansion project will build on the CIM-TAC’s 15 years of success and leverage the centre’s industry partnerships and manufacturing expertise to provide even more capacity for applied research, as well as education, training and work-integrated learning opportunities for students. We thank the Government of Alberta for this investment that will benefit not only RDP students and researchers, but also the entire central Alberta region and its critical industries like health care, agriculture, energy and construction.”

Stuart Cullum, president, Red Deer Polytechnic

“Manufacturing and advanced manufacturing are driving job-creation, economic growth and made-in-Alberta solutions that improve the lives of people around the world and right here at home. The funding to expand RDP’s CIM-TAC is an investment that will allow Alberta companies greater access to the tools, technology and next generation of skilled talent that will allow our industry to solve real-world challenges, develop better products and ultimately increase productivity.”

Darryl Short, CEO, Karma Machining and Manufacturing, and president, Karma Medical Products  

Quick facts

  • The expansion of CIM-TAC at RDP will support a variety of sectors through advanced manufacturing capabilities, including energy innovation, transportation, aviation and agriculture. The centre will also support RDP’s future expansion into more medical device manufacturing and health-care innovations to support both patients and providers.
  • RDP’s expansion of the CIM-TAC will grow the facility’s footprint from 15,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet.
  • The CIM-TAC currently houses $7.6 million of advanced manufacturing equipment.
  • In 2022, RDP attracted more than $2 million in applied research investment. RDP also completed 64 projects for 57 companies and participated in more than 1,300 engagements with industry partners.
  • Since the CIM-TAC’s inception in 2009, RDP has supported more than 300 industry partners (including repeat clients).
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