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Suncor and RDC invest $6.8 million in engineering

Dr. John Quaicoe speaks with Glenn Janes of RDC and Alan Brown of Suncor Energy during the announcement of the new Suncor Energy Offshore Research and Development Centre.

By Jackey Locke

Offshore engineering research in Newfoundland and Labrador is receiving a significant boost thanks to a $6.8-million investment announced last week by Suncor Energy and the Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador (RDC). The investment will expand Memorial University of Newfoundland’s S.J. Carew Building which currently houses the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

Named the Suncor Energy Offshore Research and Development Centre, this 1,090-square-metre extension will create significant research space and a new synergy of collaboration among faculty, graduate students and industry partners.

With Memorial’s rapidly growing ocean technology and offshore petroleum research programs, the new centre provides critical dedicated space for innovative research and industry collaboration related to the ocean technology and offshore petroleum sectors – strategic investment areas for Suncor Energy, RDC, Memorial University and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Suncor Energy is contributing $2 million to the project. RDC is investing $4,848,776, provided under the Research Platforms element of the corporation’s competitive call for R&D infrastructure proposals.

"We are very excited about this new expansion to the S.J. Carew Building. This generous financial support will enable us to expand and improve on existing infrastructure and create critical new space for offshore research and development. This will enable Memorial to build upon our strengths in ocean technology and to significantly advance our research and training facilities,” said Dr. Gary Kachanoski, Memorial’s president and vice-chancellor.

Suncor Energy’s contribution builds on a longstanding relationship the company has with Memorial University. Suncor has provided funding for a number of Chairs, specific research programs and investments in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the School of Music.

“The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science is at the forefront of ocean technology and offshore research, areas of R&D vital to the oil and gas industry,” said Alan Brown, vice-president, East Coast Canada for Suncor Energy. “We see this new centre as a great opportunity to help both the university and faculty continue to grow and lead the way in innovative research and development, building a legacy of expertise and competitiveness for the province.”

“Today’s investment will significantly impact Newfoundland and Labrador’s ocean and offshore R&D engineering for decades to come,” said Glenn Janes, chief executive officer, RDC. “Creating this new critical space will allow Memorial to continue to recruit new faculty and highly-qualified graduate students to conduct research in industry-relevant areas. The development of these researchers is important to both the province and industry and a key target for RDC.”

It is estimated that the new expansion will help grow Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science R&D by $6 to $8 million per year over the next five years and will involve approximately 100 full-time equivalent researchers.

“Our faculty has grown significantly over the past decade, both in enrolment and in the level of external research funding,” said Dr. John Quaicoe, dean pro tempore, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “In the past five years, our faculty has generated approximately $52 million in R&D funding, published 1,000 papers, secured 180 grants and graduated more than 200 graduate students from the program.”

This new facility provides research teams at Memorial with a new integrated space to collaborate with local technology and offshore companies. The centre will also allow the university to increase its contract research related to the ocean/offshore engineering sector and develop highly-qualified personnel in these areas.