Premier Dalton McGuinty visited the McMaster Campus yesterday to announce the first round of funding under the Ontario Research Fund’s Research Excellence program.
The government of Ontario has invested $15 million from the Ontario Research Fund to support the research of Dr. David Wilkinson, chair of the McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute.
Local Member of Provincial Parliament, Ted McMeekin, introduced McGuinty. McMeekin said that he was very happy with today’s announcement. He stated that he had lobbied hard within the Liberal caucus to get more funding for research at McMaster.
McMeekin said he expects more funding announcements when CANMET moves into the McMaster Innovation Park and the Innovation Park begins to grown.
When Premier McGuinty took the stage, he began his speech by stating “it’s good to be home,” alluding to the fact that McMaster is his alma mater.
In his speech, he spoke of the importance of research units such as the MMRI. “In a world that is marching forward we cannot afford to stand still.”
McGuinty’s hope is that the funding of this research will result in economic spin-offs and benefits for the Ontario economy. He said that there is only one thing that can be done to build a competitive economy — the government needs to invest in “education and innovation.”
Dr. Wilkinson, recipient of the investment, stated that the funding will be used for the Initiative for Automotive Innovation which is a joint project with the University of Waterloo and jointly coordinated by himself and Dr. Michael Worswick of UW.
This first round of funding of the Ontario Research Fund is designed to build an economy of innovation. The funding for the project is being split equally between the province, the universities, and industry for a total budget of about $45 million.
The goal of the funding is to research how to improve the structures and materials used to design automobiles.
One target is to integrate research with the whole supply chain involved in the construction of automobiles from the raw producers such as Dofasco, with the part manufacturers such as Orlick, right to the assembly line such as the lines at Ford or General Motors.
The hope is to design stronger, longer lasting, lighter materials to be used in the manufacture of future automobiles. Lighter materials will result in increased fuel efficiency in vehicles.
Elizabeth Witmer, progressive conservative MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo, was also present for the announcement as it involved her riding.
She stated, “It is money that is needed, but I am suspect about the timing so close to an election. It looks like we are into the gravy train of election announcements.”
She said the same action was taken when she was a Cabinet member of the Ernie Eve’s government.
The funding will allow for more opportunities for graduate students and internships for undergraduates in Materials Engineering. Steve Remilli, MES president-elect and a materials engineering student, was positive about the news. “I really look forward to what they are going to use this money for to hopefully develop the program further.”
He said he is looking forward to the graduate opportunities as he is planning to take graduate studies at McMaster within the MMRI.
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