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Discover: From the napkin to production, a chat with mechanical engineer Marc Turgeon

Based out of the Fortin Discovery Lab at NORCAT, the head of MDT Engineering charts his course from aerospace engineering to robotic vehicles to prototyping services
Meet Marc Turgeon, head of MDT Engineering. (Hugh Kruzel)

Launching your own business is easier when you have drive, vision, and an established sandbox to play in. Marc Turgeon of MDT Engineering provides mechanical and structural engineering services, custom design and fabrication, and prototyping services for new products.  

A degree from Carleton University in aerospace engineering is not a normal starting point to get into the Sudbury workforce admits Turgeon. 

“I came back to Sudbury after completing my degree and spent 14 years working within the mining industry in various capacities,” Turgeon said.

Work with Penguin ASI designing and building robotic vehicles, Marcotte’s mobile utility vehicles, and time at Hatch lead to more senior roles. 

“I became the mechanical lead for major projects. I then moved back to Marcotte Mining Machinery when a management opportunity arose. I lead the engineering group and was also part of the senior management team. It was at this point that I decided to go off on my own and I created MDT Engineering.”

Though he appears to be a team of one now at MDT, Turgeon actually draws on many subject matter experts. 

“Collaboration is essential given that many products require more than one discipline of engineering to complete. Additionally, engineering comes down to producing outcomes that ensure public safety, and therefore, it is critical to involve others when needed in order to reduce risk,” Turgeon said.

Because the business landscape is changing so rapidly, Turgeon highlights all businesses must be attuned to the need to be agile and aware. This includes work in health and safety, mine planning and logistics. Turgeon talks of buzz around technology allowing access to deeper ore bodies and the shift to electric vehicles and equipment. 

“Innovation is definitely required for every industry in order to be successful, and to remain successful … it's important to keep in mind that competitors will always be making their own advancements. The choice comes down to maintaining the status quo and getting left behind, or innovate and remain relevant.”

It could be a simple as developing an efficient and robust battery powered strobe or a novel way of providing safety in fall restraint systems, but using programs, a 3D printer, and the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining tools, Turgeon can help inventors turn an idea on a napkin into a physical thing. 

“As a consultant, most of the innovation I experience comes from working on clients' projects and products that they are developing.  In addition, I also conduct innovation via product ideas of my own.  I'm quite passionate about renewable energy and I'm currently testing a prototype for a new type of wind turbine.”

Being located in the Fortin Discovery Lab at NORCAT helps, Turgeon said.

“The Fortin Discovery Lab is ideal because it provides two key ingredients for someone starting their own business: access to proper equipment, tools and software that would otherwise be too prohibitive to purchase as a start-up, and access to mentors and other peers that have also started their own business.”

Turgeon acknowledges it is location, location, location, that ensures his business progress.

“Beyond the advantages of being at the Fortin Discovery Lab, being at NORCAT provides access to industry experts and endless networking opportunities. The innovative atmosphere and culture in the building also provides inspiration to keep pushing boundaries.”

What will the Fortin Lab spawn next? It has already been the launch pad for several electrical engineering and software companies. Participants are encouraged to begin and grow their business and within years hire staff and move on to bigger projects in their oven facilities. 

If you have an idea it can become reality by reaching MDT Engineering. Just dial 705-662-2306 and speak with Marc Turgeon.

Hugh Kruzel is a freelance writer in Greater Sudbury.