Applied Research

Province to provide free access to SECD resources for early years practitioners and students

May 18, 2018

SECD ManitobaThe province will cover licensing fees to provide students and professionals across Manitoba with free access to the Science of Early Child Development (SECD), a suite of online learning resources developed by Red River College.

SECD includes regularly updated living textbooks and modules that offer current research and links to practice through a convenient online portal, accessible via computer, tablet and smartphone.

“We are making a first-of-its-kind investment in the early years fields in Manitoba to increase professional development opportunities, encourage independent study, strengthen the sectors that work with children and families, and improve the quality of services for Manitoba families,” says Families Minister Scott Fielding.

“Living textbooks are a cost-effective way to continually expand knowledge and provide educational opportunities to everyone involved in the sector.”

The province will provide $365,000 to RRC through the Canada-Manitoba Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with the federal government, opening up province-wide access for two living textbooks and three additional modules.

This will eliminate the license fee currently required to register, which will benefit hundreds of students and teaching staff, as well as early learning and child-care professionals, family child-care providers, teachers, public health staff, community organizations and any Manitobans interested in the impact of early experience on lifelong health and well-being. RRC will oversee the initiative and report to government on annual usage.

Read More →

RRC honoured by CiCan for excellence in applied research and innovation

May 1, 2018

CiCan Awards of Excellence 2018Red River College picked up a prestigious award this week recognizing its achievements in the field of applied research and innovation.

The College won gold in the category of Applied Research and Innovation Excellence at the annual Colleges and Institutes Canada (CiCan) Awards of Excellence, handed out in Victoria, B.C., on Mon., April 30.

The awards recognize best practices from institutions across the country, as well as individual leadership and achievements.

In RRC’s case, the honour caps off a marquee year of expansion that saw more than $200 million in infrastructure funding going towards 111,000 square feet of new facilities.

The College has also engaged in 543 applied partnerships with SMEs, large companies, and community organizations from 012 to 2017, resulting in the same number of new or improved products, processes, services and insights. Those initiatives are coordinated by the College’s Research Partnerships & Innovation office, which last year generated more research revenue than any other college in Western Canada.

“It is because of dedicated people working hard every day to improve educational programs and campus life, that colleges and institutes are able to offer such remarkable student experiences and training opportunities,” says CiCan President Denise Amyot.

“We are thrilled to honour these leaders and innovators who make the entire system stronger, more inclusive and more responsive to the needs of students, as well as employers.”

A victory for SpaRRCky: Student-built battery-electric car crosses the finish line

April 27, 2018

RRC Shell Eco-marathon 2018After two and a half years of hard work, a team of Mechanical Engineering Technology students have landed Red River College on the Shell Eco-marathon’s leaderboard for the first time.

The team placed 14th in the battery-electric category at the Sonoma, California event, where they were one of only 55 teams (out of the 100 teams competing) who passed inspection and made successful runs on the track.

“I feel very proud of the team. It’s been a huge commitment and it was amazing to watch SpaRRCky (the College’s battery-electric vehicle) every time it lapped around us on the track,” says Bin Yang, who was the RRC team’s manager until he graduated last December.

Behind the wheel of the car was RRC Automotive Technician student Daren Nuevo, whose teammates described her as “fearless” in the driver’s seat.

Daren Nuevo, 2018“I was more eager to drive the car than I was nervous, and once I was on the road it was more exciting than I imagined,” Nuevo says about the experience. “Time after time the team worked extremely hard, fast and efficiently to meet the inspection requirements, and throughout all the hiccups that came about.”

Those hiccups — including a broken motor, a blown fuse and a loose wheel — were seen by the team as opportunities to make quick repairs on the fly. Using the skills they learned while designing and building SpaRRCky at the College, they were able to stay calm and work together in the moment.

“A lot of the teams end up working together to help each other out,” says Yang, who now works at RRC as a research assistant. “We lent out tools and nuts and bolts to a few teams and were lucky to borrow a few things from other teams. Especially the team from Universidad de La Sabana (in Colombia) who were able to lend us a spare motor.”

To get on the leaderboard, the team had to complete seven laps in under 26 minutes.

“Daren was just flying by,” says Yang. “After we made the fixes we just wanted to make sure we completed a successful run and then worry about strategy later, so she was lapping every car.” Read More →

Student-led applied research efforts on display at second annual showcase

April 5, 2018

Applied Research & Innovation Day, 2018An online divorce agency, an alternator-driven electric bicycle, a study on lullaby therapy for infants, and a social media assessment for the Winnipeg Police Service — just a small sample of the student-led research projects that’ll be on display today at Red River College’s Applied Research & Innovation Day.

Now in its second year, the event welcomes close to 200 participants from the College — as well as partners from business and industry — to learn about RRC’s many ongoing research initiatives, as well as students’ experiences and successes in applying their work in a real-world environment.

“We started our applied research initiatives a little more than a decade ago, and today we’re leading the way in applied research here in Manitoba, and across Western Canada,” says RRC President Paul Vogt.

“More and more, the idea of teaching and learning is moving away from students sitting in desks and taking notes, and towards hands-on, collaborative projects. Applied Research & Innovation Day strongly showcases the success of that approach to learning.”

Today’s event will feature an industry luncheon with a keynote from Paul Soubry, President and CEO of New Flyer Industries, who was recently named Canada’s top CEO of the year by the Financial Post. The event will also feature a quick-pitch student competition — similar to TV’s Dragon’s Den — where the top four teams from the morning’s student showcase will explain how their research created a sustainable solution to a real problem.

While today marks an important milestone for student-led research at RRC, it’s also an important day for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada — one of the many federal partners who support RRC’s applied research initiatives — as they announce their 10,000th Engage Grant in support of colleges and universities across Canada. Read More →

Ongoing research in early child development earns inaugural national award

January 18, 2018

Science of Early Child Development team, 2018What began as a Red River College research project to bridge the knowledge gap in early child development — and to create educational resources to support frontline workers — has received a prestigious national award recognizing its global impact.

It was announced this week the College’s Science of Early Child Development resource is the inaugural recipient of the Canadian Association of Research Administrators’ (CARA) Public Engagement and Advocacy Award, which recognizes an individual, institution, team or project that established and maintained public engagement with research though an innovative approach.

“This award is particularly exciting as our primary goal in developing SECD is to make the rapidly expanding science engaging and accessible to those who make a real difference in children’s lives,” says Jan Sanderson, research chair at RRC’s School of Health Sciences and Community Services.

“Our team has had the opportunity to work with many amazing committed partners around the world who are now using SECD to develop the next generation of champions for young children.”

As part of their work, RRC researchers were able to point to significant and emerging scientific evidence that spoke to the benefits of creating experiences that would support brain development in children, starting in prenatal and carrying on into the first years of a child’s life.

Prior to the work undertaken at the College, this emerging knowledge was not being widely disseminated to caregivers and frontline workers, especially in remote and low-income regions around the world.

It’s this evidence — and lack of resources — that was the driving force behind SECD, which CARA selected for the award because of its tailor-made approach to addressing critical issues around early childhood development. Read More →

Chekkit out: Wi-Fi logins leveraged to help businesses build customer bases

January 9, 2018

Lee Klimpke, Daniel Fayle and Emily Franz-Lien, Chekkit WiFi Marketing and AnalyticsWould a text message from a local coffee shop offering a free espresso get you back in the door? With some help from Red River College students working out of the ACE Project Space in the Exchange District, a new Winnipeg-based service provider believes the answer is yes.

Chekkit Wifi Marketing and Analytics is the brainchild of Daniel Fayle, Myles Hiebert, Lee Klimpke and Emily Franz-Lien, whose aim is to help businesses build loyalty programs through Wi-Fi login pages and text messages.

The team members are currently Entrepreneurs in Residence at RRC’s new project space on McDermot Avenue, where they’ve been working with Business Information Technology students to develop their product.

“The knowledge and resources available at ACE and in the Exchange District is immense,” says Fayle. “When we started, we had nothing — and through ACE we have office space, networking opportunities, a boardroom to host meetings and demonstrations, and a lot of support.

“The students we worked with were a big asset and we’re grateful to have been able to provide them with an opportunity to share their skills.”

The Chekkit team’s goal is to create optimal first experiences for customers, and to generate repeat traffic for businesses that offer free Wi-Fi.

“In creating this product our question was, ‘If someone walks in the door, how do you get them back in?’ Most people, their eyes are on their phone, and they’re going to log in to Wi-Fi,” Fayle explains.

“When they log in or when they leave, they can opt in to receive great deals from the business they visited and the brand they love, so the business can send them an offer that will make them want to come back.” Read More →

Business concepts take flight at inaugural Dragonfly Den pitch event

December 6, 2017

Dragonfly Den 2017Business students from Red River College let their creative concepts take flight this afternoon, at the first-ever Dragonfly Den event showcasing social innovation in entrepreneurship.

Held as part of the College’s annual Social Innovation and Applied Business Research Competition, the Dragonfly Den session saw student teams making presentations informed by research they’d conducted on successful business concepts from around the world.

Appearing before a panel of six industry judges, students were asked to pitch out-of-the-box solutions to existing social problems — starting with a budget of just $500 — and to demonstrate how they’d adapted the models to make them sustainable here in Canada.

Judges then provided feedback and advice, and selected a winner who best exemplified principles of social innovation.

"Today we celebrate these young entrepreneurs and problem solvers who are using their global connections, experience and passion to address social issues here at home and around the world," says Christine Watson, RRC's Vice-President, Academic. "This event is an example of how industry, education ad community are working together to prepare and inspire our future leaders."

The concepts pitched by students included: Read More →

First-ever SECD International course: Featured fellows share their experiences

December 5, 2017

Science of Early Child Development: Kenya/TanzaniaThe first-ever 16-week Science of Early Child Development (SECD) International Course, co-facilitated by Red River College and Aga Khan University in Nairobi, recently came to an end this fall.

The course was a key component of the year-long World Bank Africa Early Years Fellowship, created for the purpose of assembling a select group of African professionals to work at capacity-building in their home countries, in support of governments and World Bank teams as they ramp up investments in early years resources.

Currently, 80% of children under five in sub-Saharan Africa are not enrolled in pre-primary programs and malnutrition is a persistent reality.

A bit of background

The SECD resource, developed by a small team at Red River College, began 16 years ago as a local initiative to create an accessible resource that could mobilize the possibilities of early brain development science to better equip early child educators in Canada.

Today, it’s a comprehensive, continually updated collection of on- and offline multi-media educational tools that incorporate research from around the world, providing cutting-edge resources to more than 40 countries. Readings, questions and interactive activities bring concepts to life, while captioned videos showcase the latest research, highlighting real-life examples.

The initiative wouldn’t have been possible without funding and collaboration from several key partners, including the World Bank, the University of Toronto, the Lawson Foundation, and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), which works to improve living conditions and create opportunities in Asia and Africa. The World Bank and the AKDN took notice of SECD in 2007, effectively setting the wheels in motion to make it international.

A decade later, the World Bank Early Learning Partnership selected the SECD International resource as a foundation for the course that would become a key component of their Fellowship.

The Africa Early Years Fellowship

The 2017 Fellowship, now in its third year, began in January, and offers fellows the option of applying to extend their fellowship for a second year. A total of 20 fellows were drawn from a wide range of backgrounds, including economics, education, ECD, medicine/health, and international development. High-priority countries include Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi and Mali, among others.

Featured Fellows Read More →

Business and Technology students partner with local law firm to create web app for low-income clients

November 21, 2017

BA and ACE students with Evans Family LawIt’s being billed as the “TurboTax for law,” and Red River College students are helping to bring it to the web.

Students from the College’s Business Administration program and Applied Computer Education (ACE) department have partnered with Winnipeg’s Evans Family Law Corporation, to develop an interview-based web application that allows users to access and fill out basic family law documents themselves.

In the works since last year, the app is slated to be built and brought online by RRC students sometime in 2018.

“Access to justice, particularly in family law, has been recognized as a serious issue with the legal community for some time,” says Business instructor George Allen. “It is believed the kind of technology this project is looking to implement could play an important role in addressing some of the access issues inherent in the current system.”

Allen says the project would be designed to provide Manitobans with access to court forms using intelligent documents, and to use an interview-style dialogue process for gathering client data — much like TurboTax does to complete federal and provincial tax forms.

The prospect of saving thousands of dollars in legal fees could be particularly attractive to the large number of working Canadians for whom the ability to retain a lawyer is out of reach due to costs.

“If you’re working and you’re making a certain level of income, and you have a divorce proceeding or a wills and estate issue, you won’t qualify for Legal Aid because you make too much money or you own property,” says Allen (shown above, fourth from right). “You may also be in a situation where paying $300 an hour for a lawyer is really a hardship, or even out of the question.”

“An uncontested divorce or separation is really a straightforward process that most paralegals would normally be doing under the guidance and underwriting of a lawyer. So we’re looking at taking those forms and that process and providing it at a low cost to this particular population that otherwise likely wouldn’t have access to it.”

Greg Evans, principal at Evans Family Law, says the idea is to provide some of the same services already offered at Winnipeg’s Legal Help Centre, only for an online audience.

“People are much more used to having services provided online or through online websites and applications,” says Evans (shown above, second from right). “It’s an idea that takes a look at what potentially might be the wave of the future, particularly with simple legal documents.” Read More →

RRC named top research college in Western Canada

November 2, 2017

Canada's Top 50 Research Colleges logoRed River College is now the top research college in Western Canada, according to Canada's Top 50 Research Colleges, an annual ranking conducted by Re$earch Infosource Inc. that was released today.

“It’s fantastic to once again be recognized for our overall research efforts and successes in building research and innovation capacity for Manitoba,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “Our research programming has never been more important as we work to support the increasingly sophisticated needs of current and future graduates, employers and industry.”

This has been a marquee year for the College, with major infrastructure announcements for both its Exchange District and Notre Dame campuses. Applied research has been the impetus for much of the recent growth.

“We now have so much research-related activity happening at the College – all in response to expressed needs by industry and our community,” says Ray Hoemsen, RRC’s Executive Director of Research Partnerships & Innovation. “Being recognized as the top Research College in Western Canada validates that we are not only playing a key role in economic development, but also that our knowledge, expertise and facilities are highly relevant.”

Visit our Research Partnerships & Innovation blog to read more about the top 10 research-related highlights from the past year.

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