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U of A creates new academic centre: Canadian Centre for Welding and Joining

A new academic centre in the faculty of engineering will give students access to new research opportunities and offer the U of A a unique place in the study of welding and materials engineering

The University of Alberta has a new academic centre, the Canadian Centre for Welding and Joining, which it hopes will allow for new research and development in the areas of welding and materials engineering.

The Canadian Centre for Welding and Joining (CCWJ) was officially created on October 23 at the General Faculties Council, the highest academic decision making body at the U of A. The Academic Planning committee passed the proposal to establish the centre.

According to documents within the proposal, welding and joining are central to the development of manufacturing, construction, and natural resources in Alberta and Canada at large. Welding involves not only the act of welding, but also the design and selection of alloys, machinery, and processes.

“None of these aspects of welding are dealt in appropriate depth at the colleges, which focus on training welders and technologists, but not inventors and thinkers outside of what is immediately available,” the documents read. “Alberta has no institution addressing the deeper aspects of welding, despite the pressing need for this knowledge in the province.”

“The… Canadian Centre for Welding and Joining will fulfill this need for multidisciplinary knowledge beyond the trades.”

The CCWJ will be self-sustaining financially mainly through a $2.1 million endowment while also receiving contributions from government, industry support/sponsorships, and research funds. Further, the U of A received a $1.5 million equipment grant from Western Economic Diversification, a $500,00 grant from Canada Foundation for Innovation, and a $355,000 grant from the Government of Alberta.

The CCWJ will fall within the Faculty of Engineering and report to the chair of chemical and materials engineering. According to the documents supporting the CCWJ creation, there is no other similar initiative in Western Canada and only one other comparable centre at the University of Waterloo, albeit with a narrower focus.

Housed in the Welding and Research Lab in the Chemical and Materials Engineering Building, the CCWJ will work with external stakeholders like government, academic partners, and industry leaders to guide, develop, and sponsor research projects.

In a letter of support for the creation of the CCWJ, physics professor Richard Sydora said the new centre will ensure a future of interdisciplinary cooperation at the U of A and the province of Alberta.

“I see a very concrete need to establish this centre not only for this university and province, but also in this time of economic pressure, as its role in connecting fundamental and applied research,” he wrote. “The ability to address issues from a very deep level up — [for example] studying arc physics and optimizing processes and machines, or using practical problems from the industry to learn more about fundamental principles involved — is exciting for industry and research and will have an incredible impact on the medium to long term prospect of companies.”

“The interdisciplinary aspects of these undertakings also cannot be overstated – as a plasma physicist the microcosm of welding offers new insights into cosmic phenomena, and vice versa.”

Nicola Cherry, professor teaching in preventive medicine at the U of A, said in a letter of support for the establishment of the CCWJ that the research will help support welding, but also the study of occupation health and weldings effect on workers health.

“The welding research lab with its fundamental knowledge of welding, access to welding equipment, and its specialized characterization equipment is a tremendous resource for occupational health related research,” she wrote.

“In bringing together equipment makers, manufacturing industry, and interdisciplinary research, it is ideally placed to carry out the research and start making the changes that will have an enormous positive impact a whole industry and, more importantly, the people working in it.”

In 2006, the U of A established the Weldco/Industry Chair to initiate studies in welding and materials joining. The CCWJ will absorb the Weldco/Industry Chair and continue its work, but in a more formalized structure and with a greater interdisciplinary research focus. There are already 12 studies the CCWJ is undertaking, including international collaborations with Germany, Japan, Argentina, and China; and the impact of welding fumes on female welders.

“The CCWJ will equal or surpass existing facilities worldwide in terms of the scope of its interdisciplinary research, state-of-the-art infrastructure, collaboration with industry, and education and training of welding engineering and researchers,” read the documents.

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Adam Lachacz

Adam Lachacz is the 2019-20 News Editor at The Gateway and previous Staff Reporter from 2018-19. He is a fourth-year student studying history and political science. While working for The Gateway he continues the tradition of turning coffee into copy.

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