Research to focus on emerging technologies and innovations in welding and metallurgy to enhance competitiveness of BC marine sector
November 2, 2021 – North Vancouver, BC – The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and Seaspan Shipyards (Seaspan) have announced the establishment of a new research chair at BCIT. The Centre of Welding Technologies and Metallurgy Research Chair will be the first at BCIT to be exclusively based on funding and collaboration with an industry partner and will enhance BC-based industrial research capabilities in advanced welding and metallurgy – two of the most foundational and critical areas of marine manufacturing.
Seaspan has agreed to invest $1.65M over five years to fund the new research chair and a supporting centre of expertise managed by an industry professional, with instructors, analysts, and associated research equipment and materials.
In collaboration with Seaspan, the new BCIT Research Chair will focus on advancing the state of practice in welding engineering – a critical manufacturing process in the building, repairing, and maintaining of ships. Welding technologies and metallurgy are highly complex fields that are evolving rapidly to address the needs of new ship designs and materials as well as the increasingly complex structural and operational requirements of modern vessels, including those used for icebreaking in harsh ocean conditions such as those in the high Arctic.
The Chair will identify and conduct applied research into emerging areas that are expected to provide Seaspan and the broader marine sector in BC with manufacturing advantages and competitive differentiation. The new technologies and techniques developed through the work of the Chair are also expected to lay the foundation for innovations in BCIT’s training and certification programs, addressing the growing need to continuously develop and train highly skilled BC-based talent.
The new Seaspan-BCIT collaboration will also provide immediate benefits for the ships Seaspan designs and builds under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. For example, the new Polar Icebreaker and fleet of Multi-Purpose Vessels will provide the Coast Guard with advanced icebreaking capabilities for Arctic and near-Arctic missions. The thicker steel needed to meet those requirements demands advanced and specialized welding technologies, and the program is expected to help develop advanced technologies, techniques, and training to meet these requirements.
The recruiting process for the research position is underway. BCIT and Seaspan are seeking an individual who possesses an advanced degree and experience in a metallurgy or material science engineering field with a specialty in welding to oversee the program.
This investment with BCIT is part of Seaspan’s Value Proposition commitment under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). Seaspan has a history of collaborating with BCIT and other academic institutions on a variety of initiatives, including training for Indigenous students, apprentice training, and specialized training for marine welders.
“Seaspan’s new research chair at the British Columbia Institute of Technology is a critical step for our marine manufacturing. This new centre of expertise will create an environment where innovation can thrive while creating good opportunities for Canadians from coast to coast.”
– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
“This collaboration between Seaspan and BCIT to create a new hub for marine welding research will further strengthen B.C.’s industrial marine sector, which is a vital component of building our province’s long-term economic vision. This exciting investment aligns with our upcoming made-in-B.C. shipbuilding strategy, which is designed to build sector capacity, capability and competitiveness, and ensure continued job growth for years to come.”
– The Honourable Ravi Kahlon, BC Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation
“Congratulations to both BCIT and Seaspan Shipyards. Their partnership will both strengthen the ship building industry here in B.C and further our province’s competitive advantage. And, closer to my heart, it ensures BCIT’s students of marine welding are learning the very latest technologies and skills.”
– The Honourable Anne Kang, BC Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training
“It is very encouraging to see Seaspan Shipyards working in partnership with BCIT in the creation of the Centre of Welding Technologies and Metallurgy Research Chair at BCIT. The Centre will benefit not only Seaspan, but also the broader industrial marine sector in British Columbia as it will investigate and integrate the world’s leading welding capabilities and bring new processes and techniques, including robotics and automation, into the provincial industry. This is an outstanding collaboration that really sets a template for industry and post-secondary collaboration that is needed by our industry to grow and succeed in the future.”
– Alex Rueben, Executive Director, Association of British Columbia Marine Industries (ABCMI)
“We are proud to expand on our long-time partnership with Seaspan, leading continued innovation and excellence in this rapidly changing industry. The Centre of Welding Technologies and Metallurgy Research Chair will build bridges to modern manufacturing techniques such as robotics and automation, digital transformation, and smart systems (Industry 4.0), and artificial intelligence (Industry 5.0) – and is an ideal example of how industry and higher education need to better integrate to power provincial recovery and resilience and achieve long-lasting global competitiveness. BCIT is again delivering on its mandate of strategic workforce development by providing students with the technical skills, real-world experience, and problem-solving abilities needed to excel in an ever-changing world.”
– Tom Roemer, Vice President Academic, British Columbia Institute of Technology
“Continued investment is vital to the future of BC’s marine sector. This collaboration with BCIT is another example of Seaspan’s commitment to advancing best practices, building expertise and infrastructure, and helping ensure Canada’s future as a shipbuilding nation. With industry, research, and education working together, we are innovating and developing capability – including highly skilled people – that will ensure our shipyards and BC’s marine industry remain competitive far into the future.”
– Mark Lamarre, Chief Executive Officer, Seaspan Shipyards
- The objectives of the National Shipbuilding Strategy are to develop a sustainable, competitive marine industry and to renew federal fleets with ships built in Canada by Canadians.
- In 2011, Seaspan was selected to build the non-combat vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy. Seaspan has already delivered the first complete class of ships under the NSS – three Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels for the Coast Guard. Seaspan’s NSS program of work also includes two Joint Support Ships for the Royal Canadian Navy, as well as an Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel, one Polar Icebreaker and up to 16 Multi-Purpose Vessels for the Coast Guard.
- Before today’s announcement, Seaspan had invested more than $24 million to support education, learning, research, and skills development in the marine industry. Seaspan has also focused on reducing barriers for underrepresented groups, bringing a broad range of new talent into the industry and the trades, including more women and Indigenous people, and creating opportunities for youth through internships and apprenticeships.
- Seaspan has become a major economic and job creation engine while contributing more than $2.6 billion to Canada’s GDP and directing more than $1.8 billion in NSS-related contracts to more than 660 suppliers from coast to coast. (Source: Deloitte Socioeconomic Impact Study, October 2021).
- With five campuses and nearly 50,000 students enrolled each year, BCIT is one of BC’s largest post-secondary institutes.
- BCIT offers over 300 programs – from certificates and diplomas, to bachelor’s and master’s degrees – in areas such as Applied and Natural Sciences, Business and Media, Computing, Engineering, Health Sciences, and Trades and Apprenticeships.
- BCIT degree graduates have a 96% employment rate.
ABOUT THE BRITISH COLUMBIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
For more than 55 years, the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) has been delivering flexible, relevant, and future-proof education that prepares learners to provide applied solutions to industry challenges – across BC and around the world. With five campuses and nearly 50,000 students enrolled each year, BCIT is one of BC’s largest post-secondary institutes. Through its unique applied education model, BCIT is empowering people, shaping BC, and inspiring global progress.
ABOUT SEASPAN SHIPYARDS
Seaspan Shipyards, a division of Seaspan ULC, is a leader in Canada’s shipbuilding and ship repair industry. With modern facilities and a dedicated workforce of approximately 2,700 in North Vancouver and Victoria, the company has proven itself to be a trusted and strategic partner on a range of complex projects for both government and the private sector. Seaspan Shipyards is proud to deliver Canada’s non-combat program of work under the NSS. The company is building state-of-the-art ships in Canada for the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy. Through its NSS-related work, Seaspan Shipyards is creating thousands of jobs, generating significant economic benefits, and rebuilding Canada’s shipbuilding and marine industries.
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