CASE STUDY 17: OCE Connections Program
The OCE Connections Program supported small-sized industry-academic research projects occurring at Ontario Colleges and Universities. During its height (2012), it supported 26 academic institutions, 300+ projects, 2000+ students, and involved close to 250 industry partners. Doran managed this program from 2009 to 2012 helping the institutions grow Connection’s impact across the province.
Topics for the projects were typically posed by the industry partner. Teams of students would work on the problem over the course of a semester, usually tied to a course. In many cases the projects formed the backbone of engineering capstone projects. Industries came from all sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, food &beverage, health and wellness, ICT, environment, and many more.
The projects typically received $1,000-$2,000 from OCE to support project costs (materials, travel) and would involve 2 to 6 students with at least one industry partner. The students gained experience working directly with/for an industry partner and in most cases would have to present their finding to the partner at the end of the project. In many cases the solutions developed by the students were used by the company to make business improvements. Some of the best projects led to new products and services; cost savings for the company; business and industrial process improvements; and even spin-off companies.
The program came to an end in 2013 when funding from the Province was no longer available.