Applied research may be the best-kept secret at Lethbridge College. But throughout the classrooms, labs, offices and innovation space in nearly every building on this southern Alberta campus, some of the most cutting-edge applied research in the country is taking place.
It can be easy to miss. After all, a visitor can quickly get distracted by the sights of the simulation labs for Nursing students, the sounds of the huge hydraulic lifts for automotive techs in training, and the delicious smells coming from the kitchens where the Culinary students work.
But in between, there are also staff and students focusing on 17 projects in nearly a dozen different areas of research from agriculture to criminal justice to scientific services, funded by the college, the city, the province or the government of Canada. And the projects aren’t just research for research’s sake. Rather “applied research provides pragmatic solutions to real world problems,” says Dr. Kenny Corscadden, Lethbridge College’s associate vice president of research. “It’s a natural fit for colleges and our mandate. It has benefits for students, faculty, community and industry.”
The numbers add up quickly. Between April 1, 2017, and March 31, 2018, a total of 35 instructors, 10 staffers, 19 paid students and 756 student volunteers took part in applied research activities.
“Everyone is surprised at, first of all, how much research we actually undertake here, but also at the type of research that we actually are involved with,” says Corscadden. “For example, it’s quite surprising for a landlocked province to have so much aquaculture research, particularly aquaponics, which is becoming a growth area. It’s not just the amount we do, but the breadth of research that we’ve undertaken.”
If visitors to the college are surprised now, Corscadden suggests this is just the beginning. Ranked 42nd in Research Infosource Inc.’s 2017 listing of Canada’s top research colleges with annual research funding of $1.5 million, he says that number will grow, as will the impact research has on economic growth and industry prosperity in the region. “A recent study has shown that Lethbridge College contributes about 6.5 per cent to the region’s gross regional product, and I believe we’re well-positioned to transform post-secondary applied research in our region and that would even further drive economic growth,” he says.
Corscadden encourages southern Albertans to watch for more about Lethbridge College applied research, as he looks for ways to create even deeper and wider connections to the community. “This year will see our first student and faculty research symposiums which, of course, we will open to our community so they can see what we actually do here at the college in terms of research.” Until then, to learn more about the applied research landscape at Lethbridge College and some of the projects happening here, just keep reading.