STUDENTS and researchers at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus met November 7 with Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk to share how post-secondary education experiences are preparing them to meet the growing needs of the workforce.
The campus visit, during National Technology Week (November 1-8), gave the minister an opportunity to learn from students about their goals and aspirations, test new technology being developed in research labs and share his thoughts on developing career paths.
New health technologies, diverse paths in robotics and engineering and the latest advances in software systems are among evolving career paths increasingly drawing students to SFU Surrey’s campus and preparing them for industry—and were highlighted during Virk’s visit.
“I’m excited to see the depth of knowledge and expertise being applied to so many diverse projects here at SFU,” said Virk. “Commercialization of technology is vital to B.C.’s overall economic growth because it supports innovation in many industries. These labs give students a chance to go hands-on in solving real world challenges with tangible benefits.”
SFU President Andrew Petter, who also met with Virk, said: “We appreciated the opportunity to show the Minister what we mean when we say that SFU is Canada’s most community engaged research university.
“Our Surrey campus is not only providing students with an innovative and relevant education, it is also a key partner in the economic and social development of Surrey and the South Fraser region.”
Virk met with a roundtable of students from diverse areas of study, asking them about their backgrounds and future plans, and spoke about the importance of giving back to communities.
He also toured the newly announced Digital Health Hub, created to help drive medical technology innovation at the university.
Researchers described how health technologies at SFU span myriad fields, from the virtual reality tools being developed for chronic pain management in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology’s Pain Studies Lab, to the brain and spinal cord injury prevention and treatment technologies being designed in the Neurospine Biomechanics Lab in the School of Mechatronics Systems Engineering (MSE).
Meanwhile more than 40 SFU students and researchers are advancing fuel cell technology at Ballard Power Systems, led by MSE professor Erik Kjeang, who demonstrated how a recently announced $6.5 million lab will further their work to improve fuel cell durability and cost and advance opportunities for students.
Later, Virk joined a lab of a few dozen MSE students who showcased their SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) miniature Formula One racing vehicle, designed to SAE standards with a digital interface developed by the team that can log data for post-race system analysis.
Virk also heard from students in SFU’s Aboriginal Bridge program, who come to SFU from across the country, and shared his own experiences growing up in Northern B.C. and working in small communities.