Vard $1.5 million gift advances marine engineering research and learning at UBC

Vard VardMarine designs icebreakers and ice-capable ships such as the Polar Icebreaker, currently proposed to be built by Seaspan. Credit: Vard

Donation aims to promote innovation and ease shortage of electrical and shipboard systems engineers

The University of British Columbia has received a $1.5 million donation that is expected to advance naval architecture and marine engineering education and promote innovative technologies in Canada’s shipbuilding industry. The gift, from Vard Marine Inc. and Vard Electro Canada Inc., will fund the creation of a Marine Systems Initiative, with the funds administered over a five-year period.

“There is no question the marine industry needs innovation and technology to be an effective and efficient mode of transportation in the coming decades, and Vard Marine is glad to participate in this new program to ensure we support these efforts to provide highly qualified personnel, and continued research and development,” said Dave McMillan, CEO, Vard Marine Inc.

“The need for qualified personnel, especially in the electrical marine area, is immediate and could not happen soon enough,” said Robert Louie, Managing Director, Vard Electro Canada Inc. “Along with Vard Marine, we are committed to supporting the UBC initiative and the growth of the industry.”

The Marine Systems Initiative, based in the Faculty of Applied Science at UBC, will create a specialized curriculum track in the naval architecture and marine engineering degree programs. The content will focus on electrical and systems engineering, and similar content will also be developed for the faculty’s research-based master and PhD programs in applied science.

“Industry partnerships enhance student learning and support the important work being done by researchers at UBC – we’re truly grateful to Vard Marine Inc. and Vard Electro Canada Inc. for their generous gift,” said UBC President Prof. Santa J. Ono. “With Canada facing a shortage of qualified engineers and naval designers, it’s especially urgent to find these areas where collaboration can result in new graduates for industry and novel technologies to drive our economy forward.”

“The Faculty of Applied Science is committed to this sort of industry engagement and fully supports this outstanding example of collaboration across multiple departments and programs within the faculty,” added James Olson, Dean of Applied Science at UBC.

The Marine Systems Initiative (MSI) will also foster research in areas with the potential to advance marine safety and innovation, including energy, propulsion systems, shipboard communications and sensors, software systems, cybersecurity, high-performance computing and human factors.

“Together with Vard, we’re inviting other companies in the shipbuilding and industrial marine sector to join our industry consortium and support MSI’s teaching and research, drive innovation, and facilitate the commercialization of new technology,” said David Michelson, a professor of electrical and computer engineering who co-leads the initiative.

An inaugural industry workshop, bringing together representatives from Canada’s marine industry and UBC researchers to explore new areas of potential innovation, is taking place today, March 15, at UBC’s Point Grey campus. For more information, visit: https://events.vtools.ieee.org/m/193396

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