Composites attract funds Centre at U of M gets $2M to continue innovative research

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Composites attract funds Centre at U of M gets $2M to continue innovative research

Leah Janzen Hockey sticks are stronger, skis are more flexible and airplanes are more fuel efficient thanks to composite technology being researched and developed in Manitoba. The new Composites Innovation Centre at the University of Manitoba’s SmartPark is the largest centre of its kind in Canada developing the cutting-edge technology being used more and more around the world.

Announcing a $2 million federal-provincial boost to the centre yesterday, Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, Minister of Western Economic Diversification, said the new funds will support the centre and the manufacturing industry in Manitoba as a whole.

“By committing funds to the centre’s development and operation we’re also dedicating ourselves to the future growth of manufacturers, research institutions and educational facilities in our province,” he said.

“Developing cutting edge composite technology will keep our manufacturing industry in the forefront. The uses for composites are endless.”

Composites are reinforcing fibres or moulding compounds like fibreglass or carbon that are embedded in plastic materials to make them stronger, more durable, lighter and more efficient.

Composites replace materials like metal and reduce the number of parts and energy used in manufacturing.

The materials are used in everything from planes, to furniture to auto parts and sports equipment.

Sean McKay, executive director of the Composites Innovation Centre, said the government funds will be used to support the centre’s research and help it form partnerships with industries in the province that can benefit from the technology.

Boeing, Motor Coach and New Flyer Industries already use the technology and are interested in future collaborations, said McKay.

Emoke Szathmary, president of the University of Manitoba, said the funding will also help the university attract the best and brightest students who want to study the technology.

“For students, knowing the CIC is here, reinforces their belief they’ve chosen a career goal as engineers wisely and that they have the tools of that discipline where they have opportunities to make a difference,” she said.

The CIC was incorporated in October of 2003 and already its reputation is spreading, said McKay.

He said the centre went looking for a co-op student for a summer placement this year and was shocked when 50 people applied for a single position.