Algoma Steel’s CEO says the company is preparing for its future needs by investing now in a Sault College program that provides hands-on experience with advanced technology, like robotics.
“It’s very important that we have the future worker who can be educated and provide an opportunity for them to get the skills and for us to get the workforce, particularly locally,” said Michael McQuade, Algoma Steel Inc. CEO at an announcement on Wednesday at Sault College.
Algoma Steel is providing the college with $100,000 toward its new Mechatronics Engineering program, which is being run in the Sault for the first time this year through a partnership with Humber College.
The newly-announced funds will go toward the purchase of new instruction equipment to allow more local students the ability to gain hands-on experience.
Program coordinator Donovan Kennedy said the inaugural class consists of about 65 students, four of which are being instructed in the Sault, with the majority attending a Humber campus in Etobicoke.
Kennedy said the four-year program offers students a good foundation on programming for a wide number of applications, including heavy industry, manufacturing, agriculture and others.
“They are learning on a true industrial robot, something they would see in the industry,” said Kennedy. “With a mechatronics degree, they have that electrical background, the automation and programming, all built into that one degree.”
A small-scale ABB instructional robot used at the college in the program was on hand for the announcement.
McQuade said Algoma Steel is anticipating future needs for skilled workers as it continues to modernize the plant.
“With that comes new technology where we need employees who can work with that technology and keep it current,” said McQuade. “It made all kinds of sense to invest where you combine the mechanical, the electrical and the computer factors into the kinds of automation we see.”
He hopes investing in the program will contribute to more locals building the skills they need to stay in the community and work for Algoma Steel.
“We are thrilled to be able to support our community and the next generation of innovators who will emerge from this program,” said McQuade.
The investment in the program is just another example of a long-standing partnership with Algoma Steel, said Ron Common, president of Sault College.
“They have been close partners going back decades and they serve on our advisory committees, they serve on our board of governors, they help us to keep our programs current and they create job opportunities for our graduates,” said Common. “They are thinking ahead about the new types of skills engineers are going to require.”