As it has for five years, Cambrian College cracked Research Infosource's list of Canada's top 50 research colleges — the only college in Northern Ontario to do so.
But in its most recent ranking, for 2015, it sunk ten spots over the previous year. Cambrian ranked 44th on the list last year. It ranked 34th in 2014, 36th in 2013, 37th in 2012 and 34th in 2011 (that's the earliest year for which information on this ranking is available on Research Infosource's website).
“There was a change in the ranking, certainly, but I think that sort of speaks to how strong some of our other competitors are,” said Mike Commito, applied research developer with Cambrian Innovates.
“I don't think there's any concern with the change in the ranking, and I think ultimately with these there's such a strong pool of competitors across the country. Ultimately that's a win-win for everybody in terms of pushing forward innovation and applied research in Canada.”
The ranking shows Cambrian's research income dropped very slightly in 2015 compared to the year before.
That number was at $1.524 million in 2015 and $1.564 million in 2014. But overall, Cambrian's research income has grown, as in 2013, it was at $1.49 million and in 2012 and 2011 it was at about $1.1 million.
The college had 33 faculty involved in research in 2013-2014 and 31 in 2014-2015. But that's up from 22 in 2012-2013 and in 2011-2012.
According to Research Infosource, Cambrian's applied research program is doing well compared to colleges of its size in a few areas.
Among the 17 other medium-size colleges (those that bring in $50 to $100 million in total revenue) Cambrian ranks third for the number of paid student researchers, at 48, and seventh for number of research partnerships, at 39.
Cambrian College is involved in applied research, meaning it works with industry partners to solve real-world problems.
One of the projects Cambrian has worked on has been a collaboration with local mining supply company Rock-Tech to improve the performance of the company's rock-breaking equipment.
“We worked with Rock-Tech to develop a customizeable screen that would allow the operators to catch more rocks, thereby making the process more efficient and making it better for workers to operate,” Commito said.
“In doing that, obviously we help them develop this new technology that will then generate an estimated $5 million a year once they launch it. By extension, because of that technology, it will also allow the company to hire 10 plus full-time employees in the next few years.”
Working on these kinds of projects is also great for students, as it gives them experience that will make them more employable, he said.
While Cambrian was the only Northern Ontario college to make the list of Canada's top 50 research colleges once again, Commito said he has no doubt that other northern colleges could be there soon.
The applied research program at Canadore College in North Bay, especially, is taking off, he said.
“They weren't on there this year, but that's not to say in the coming years as their program continues to develop, they wouldn't be nipping at our heels on this list and potentially joining Cambrian on that list,” Commito said.