Humber ahead of the curve on research funding, partnerships

by | Dec 3, 2018 | Biz/Tech

Jeremy Yudin
Biz/Tech Reporter

Humber continues to thrive as one of the highest-ranked research colleges in Canada.

The school shot up 10 spots in 2017 from the previous year. Humber now sits in 20th place on the list of 50 top research colleges, according to a list created by Research Infosource Inc., a research and development company that provides annual rankings for institutions such as colleges, universities and hospitals.

The study showed Humber has the highest number of researchers among the colleges — 302 in 2017 — sharing a pool of about $3.3 million in research funding. The number one college, Lambton College in Sarnia has 71 researchers sharing more than $11 million in research funding, the study reported.

“Rankings are good and the recognition of being top tier is important, but really it provides opportunities for our students,” said Darren Lawless, Humber’s Dean of Applied Research & Innovation. “The actual rankings aren’t as important as the message that you’re sending out into the marketplace that we have the skills, capabilities, and talents to solve problems.”

Companies will look to Humber students for help on their projects, which in turn can provide students a pathway for better job opportunities, he said.

Humber is also the third highest college in regards to research partnerships and paid student researchers, Lawless said.

“It basically proves to the outside world that the work that we do has enough value that someone is willing to pay for it,” Lawless said.

Ron Freedman, the CEO of Research Infosource, said there’s been growth of research at Humber and this is due to faculty and administration leadership.

“I remember five or 10 years ago, people wouldn’t think colleges did anything in terms of applied research or research at all,” Freedman said.

This has changed and now top tier companies are reaching out to collaborate with colleges, he said.

Lawless said the next goal for Humber is to be within top 10 colleges of applied research.

“I think we’ll get there because I’ve been tremendously impressed with the students and the faculty that work here,” Lawless said.

In an effort to support students, The Barrett Family Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, has increased their investment in Humber to $10 million.

This is the largest private donation received by Humber in its history. Part of the donation is planned to be used for scholarships for students.

Meredith Gabel, a Civil Engineering Technology student, said the increase of scholarships is very important for someone who is living on their own.

“I’ve lived on my own for almost a decade now and I completely finance my education,” Gabel said. “I don’t have parent support so scholarships are super important to me because I’ve been working so I’ve saved up but that doesn’t cover rent and school.”

The foundation donated an initial $5 million in 2016. The second investment will help fund a range of student scholarships, industry training, and advanced equipment.

“We believe education is critical to the development of all individuals and we want to help people gain the skills to get and retain a good job,” said Bob Barrett, the Founder of The Barrett Family Foundation and president and CEO of Polytainers.

Part of the investment in skill training has been the launch of a program called Springboard Mentorship. Humber graduates have been able to spend time working at both their company and the college.

“[The Barrett Family Foundation] really kickstarted and catalyzed our reactions which will provide pathways and opportunities for Humber students so we’re thankful,” Lawless said.

He said the foundation has allowed Humber to do things that the school couldn’t otherwise afford to do.