Canadian researchers get funding boost to train next generation of science and engineering leaders

UCalgary projects include wearable fitness technologies and infrastructure for sustainable cities


University Relations Staff

The next generation of Canadian scientists and engineers can rely on their mentors in research and industry to help them gain the knowledge, experience and skills they need to land the jobs of the future.

This week, Kirsty Duncan, minister of science and minister of sport and persons with disabilities, announced $29.7 million in Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) grants to 18 Canadian research teams across the country who are working to further discovery and innovation.

Two of the 18 research teams include those being led by Dr. Reed Ferber, PhD, and Dr. Lina Kattan, PhD, of the University of Calgary. Each project is getting $1.6 million over six years as part of a national funding announcement.

“NSERC CREATE funding establishes training opportunities for our next generation of leaders,” says Dr. Ed McCauley, vice-president (research). “Dr. Kattan and Dr. Ferber’s innovative programs empower our young scholars to take on research challenges with international relevance. Their participation in these transformative research projects will shape their careers in a multitude of positive ways.”

In addition to strengthening partnerships between Canadian and foreign research teams, the CREATE program, delivered by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), provides students with hands-on training opportunities for the jobs of the future along with valuable connections to people working in industry, government and community organizations.

The UCalgary grant winners are: 

Reed Ferber, Faculty of Kinesiology

The federal grant will help Ferber drive the future of wearable sensor technology in Canada by helping to fund a new interdisciplinary graduate program — a first for wearables in the country — to meet the growing demand for well-trained professionals.

The NSERC CREATE Wearable Technology Research and Collaboration (We-TRAC) Training Program for graduates will be hosted in the Faculty of Kinesiology in collaboration with the Schulich School of Engineering, Faculty of Science, Faculty of Nursing and Haskayne School of Business. The We-TRAC training program is intended to significantly expand upon and transform the world-renowned Human Performance Laboratory (HPL) in the Faculty of Kinesiology by collecting real-world data, outside of the laboratory setting, using wearable sensors and combining advanced training and interdisciplinary engagement, currently not offered at Canadian universities. It offers professional development, practical placements, entrepreneurial training and industry experience.

The We-TRAC program begins this fall 2018 with the specialization graduate training program beginning in the fall of 2019. The field of wearable sensor technology is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, with a growth rate of 43.4 per cent from an estimated US$5 billion in 2013 to an expected US$30.2 billion in 2018

Lina Kattan, Schulich School of Engineering

What happens when you drop a new technology into a city? Take electric vehicles — there’s more to it than just you buying a new car. The introduction of electric cars onto our roads in large numbers will impact electrical grids, parking needs, air quality, and traffic patterns. The ripple effect will be felt across many areas of critical infrastructure. The Integrated Infrastructure for Sustainable Cities (IISC) program will train the next generation of experts who have a deep understanding of innovation, integration, and sustainability to make our urban communities more resilient.

The NSERC CREATE funding will train students to consider the impact of disruptive forces and transformative technologies on complex infrastructure systems, sustainability and air quality, with all of their interacting components. The holistic approach does not exist in other university sustainability programs. This multi-disciplinary training will span transportation, urban forms, water/waste and energy systems, especially as they pertain to the introduction of disruptive technologies.

IISC includes researchers from the University of Calgary, the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, and the University of Waterloo. The program is supported by The City of Calgary, the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium, Stantec, and Alberta Transportation

Here is the complete list of 2018 CREATE grant recipients.