Student research receives $8.6 million boost from BC government


A technology manufacturing plant in Abbotsford was the backdrop to an $8.6 million funding announcement from the province last week.

The funding will support over 1,700 research internships in areas such as clean technology and emergency management. And that’s exactly what they’re doing at Atlas Power Technologies, where they’re developing supercapacitors with the help of student researchers.

The one-time provincial investment is for Mitacs’ Accelerate and Elevate programs that connect student researchers with innovative companies to provide students with hands-on experience in applying their research. Students who receive these scholarships work in industries and on projects that support priority areas such as clean technology, life sciences, emergency management, and advanced wood.

Anne Kang, Minister of Higher Education and Skills Training, and Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, were at Atlas Power Technologies for an operations tour.

Mitchell Miller, the company’s CEO, gave them a tour, including a chance to hold supercapacitors and learn more about them.

Supercapacitors are an alternative to batteries and are electrochemical devices that rapidly charge and discharge energy, making them “ideal for supporting a renewable energy grid”.

They’re about the size of a coffee cup, and several packed together are about the same size as a car battery. They can be used quickly in emergency situations, and they are created with oil sands byproducts. These materials are refined to make high-quality activated carbon, which is a necessary component of supercapacitors.

The company has already promoted research students within the company and wants to recruit more students for future growth.

The positions mean students can expect meaningful work and real-world opportunities, Kang said.

“By continuing to work with industry through organizations like Mitacs, with the thousands of internships they facilitate, we are helping students get a head start in the innovation and technology,” she said. “In turn, student researchers help us find the best newest innovations, such as turning coal into clean energy storage and finding the most sustainable way to keep patients warm in hospitals after a surgery, prevent hypothermia and improve recovery times.”

The funding will help students create innovative, research-based solutions to challenges faced by nonprofits, BC businesses, and communities across BC. Paid internships are administered by Mitacs, a national not-for-profit organization that builds partnerships between undergraduate and graduate student researchers, post-secondary institutions, industry, not-for-profit organizations and communities.

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Minister Anne Kang is preparing for a tour of a technology facility in Abbotsford on August 24, after announcing $8.6 million in funding for student research positions. (Jessica Peters/Abbotsford News)

(Jessica Peters/Abbotsford News)

(Jessica Peters/Abbotsford News)

(Jessica Peters/Abbotsford News)

(Jessica Peters/Abbotsford News)


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