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December 17, 2012

Portage College Secures Eligibility for Scientific Research Funding

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Portage College in Lac La Biche will begin the new year with access to specialized federal funding for scientific research initiatives.
The eligibility for the funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERCC) will allow Portage students and faculty to conduct applied scientific research focusing on environmental, scientific and engineering-based studies.
“This is a whole new realm for us,” said Mardere Birkill, Vice President Academic at Portage College. “We’ve been doing applied research studies, but scientific research, which this access to funding will allow us to take part in, can be very expensive, so this is a great opportunity.”
With three new centers of specialization in the college over the next two years — the Food Sciences Centre; the Water Management Center, and the Pipeline Training Centre — access to funding for scientific research is very timely, said Birkill.
“The Food Sciences Centre will be a place for training in all facets of food sciences; from culinary arts to specialized food processing methodology. We anticipate that we will have faculty and entrepreneurs together with students participating in research projects aimed at innovation and commercialization of local / regional food products in this centre. At the Water Management Centre, in partnership with our municipality, we will be setting up a lab to host research in domestic water management,” she said. “The Pipeline Training Centre, which is a unique training facility in Alberta will host research capacity and a safe testing environment for new pipeline technologies. In addition the Centre will have a strong academic focus on environmental rehabilitation.”
The availability of research funding will not only benefit the college, added Birkill. It will also provide opportunities to the region’s growing industrial and commercial sectors.
“Developing a research capacity will further strengthen our regional economy and provide another avenue of collaboration with industry and stakeholders. It will be a huge advance in the college’s contribution to our stewardship region.”
One of the first areas which will see scientific research used is Portage’s new Water Resource Manager program. The college’s Community and Industry Training Initiatives (CiTi) division, in partnership with Lac La Biche County and industry stakeholders are working together to develop the Water Resource Training Centre where research initiatives are expected to be carried out.

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