New MIDAS Lab Director: Brad Pommen

Lab Director Brad Pommen

MIDAS Lab Director: Brad Pommen

Brad Pommen, Mr. Technology: hacker, maker, technology enthusiast and a leader in STEM initiatives, brings his tremendous passion and experience to take the helm as MIDAS Lab Director.

Brad, President of the Nelson Tech Club Hackerspace, since 2010 has have taught hundreds of people, of all ages, how to code, design and adopt emerging technologies in the local community.

For the past 4 years he has organized a successful robotic educational event called “RoboGames” for local youth which has attracted over 80 participants in 2016 and entertained hundreds of spectators.

Brad regularly lectures for community groups on multiple technology subjects and coordinate the successful weekly, all-ages “Hackerspace”, partnered with Selkirk College. Brad has a record for successful project management, client-care satisfaction and quality adherence in dynamic software and technology environments.

He is a Kootenay-wide technology network liaison, providing professional representation, influence in technology funding and STEM education leadership and maintain strong networking relationships with local technology supporters and businesses.

Brad Pommen is a tremendous asset to the MIDAS Lab program and will continue to inspire, motivate and educate as he makes himself comfortable in his new role.

We’re Hiring! MIDAS Lab Director – Closes July 8, 2016

The MIDAS Lab Director will work under the direction of the MIDAS Project Director to technically prepare the MIDAS lab to plan, implement and successfully launch necessary operations, membership and training programs by September 7, 2016. Read more

Greater Trail research partnership seeks new ways to use Teck byproducts

Repurposing by products from Teck Trail Operations could be a win-win-win for the entire region. University scholars in applied science, local businesses and the regional economy may be well driven, one day, by new discoveries for smelting byproduct use through a $293,000 research partnership. Read more

Community Futures Lends “Golden Touch” To Opening of MIDAS Fab Lab

The MIDAS digital prototyping “Fab Lab” and metallurgical research facility is gearing up for its Grand Opening this September.   The goal of this Glenmerry-based multi-million dollar project is to support skills training and entrepreneurial development through the commercialization of new technologies and services in the region. Read more

RFP Due May 20: MIDAS Marketing Package Design

Midas (Metalic preview on transparent BG)KAST is looking to leverage early work on the MIDAS Marketing Plan and MIDAS brand to develop an introductory package of marketing material for the MIDAS (Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies) facility, which will serve to:

i) inform selected audience of the MIDAS facility’s existence, value and opportunities;
ii) promote membership in the MIDAS FabLab at the general public and commercial levels.

Collaborative team bids welcome.

Download the full RFP package: MIDAS Marketing Package Design RFP No 1617-01-MIDAS-MK

UBC and Industry Partnership Spurs Metallurgical Sector Development in Interior B.C.

mitacs-imgPress Release ~ 

May 2, 2016 – A $293,000 research partnership among Teck Metals Ltd., Fenix Advanced Materials, Drop Designs, Mitacs and the University of British Columbia aims to use by-products from smelting operations to create economic development opportunities in the province’s Southern Interior.

The three-year project, slated to begin this spring, challenges university researchers to find ways to sustainably extract and purify metals from lead-zinc smelting byproducts that can then be used by secondary industries in the Kootenay region of B.C.

“While it is currently possible to extract secondary minerals from smelting byproducts, current technology is both cost-prohibitive and requires the intensive use of chemicals,” says Lukas Bichler, associate professor Engineering at UBC’s Okanagan campus and research supervisor. “Our aim is to develop new ways to extract valuable minerals and metals.”

The research partnership was initiated by the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST) as a key element of its MIDAS project, an applied research, commercialization and digital fabrication training facility in Trail, B.C., focused on the metallurgical sector that exists in the region surrounding the Teck Trail Operations smelter.

MIDAS makes recent advances in metallurgical and manufacturing technology accessible to West Kootenay companies, entrepreneurs and students.

The research partnership received $161,000 in funding from Mitacs, as well as $132,000 from the project’s corporate partners Teck Metals Ltd., Drop Designs and Fenix Advanced Materials.

“Mitacs’ Accelerate program is a bridge between graduate students and businesses,” says Mitacs CEO and Scientific Director Alejandro Adem. “Through this multi-partner collaboration, UBC researchers will have the opportunity to work on a project that has the potential to create economic development in the Interior of B.C. and grow an important sector in the province.”

In addition to funding, Teck Metals Ltd. will also provide by-product materials and technical support from its Trail facility.

“Our refining processes result in materials that have the potential to generate further economic value,” says Teck Trail Operations Superintendent of Knowledge Management Greg Richards. “We look forward to working closely with partners on this research initiative which aligns with our ongoing commitment to providing long-term economic benefits to local communities and the region.”

Fenix Advanced Materials is engaged in advanced purification and re-shaping of ultra high purity metals in Trail.

“If byproducts can be turned into value-added products locally, it’s good for everybody,” says Fenix CEO Don Freschi. “There are huge opportunities out there for people willing to take that chance.”

Drop Minerals, a company involved in the development of advanced manufacturing methodology using abrasive content, is developing a system to use Teck downstream byproducts in its water jet cutting process.

“Drop’s group of companies has a strong foundation and culture of investment in research and development,” says Drop CEO Anders Malpass. “This culture is embedded in our manufacturing production, processes and products, and can be seen throughout our organizations.”

MT ID Graphic Language.03

From NASA: ‘Think Outside the Box’ 3D Printing Challenge

NASA: Think Outside The Box Challenge

Last month, the Cynus cargo ship was equipped with the Made In Space Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) destined for the International Space Station to begin printing in 3D orders for over 20 customers previously secured by Made In Space. Included in these orders are medical research components, parts for satellites and other spacecraft, and even parts for high school projects and design contests.

In honour of its successful arrival alongside the first expandable habitat, Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), to the International Space Station (ISS) – designed to take up less room on a rocket, but provide greater volume for living and working in space once expanded – Nasa and non-profit ASME Foundation have launched a new “Future Engineers” challenge.

In the spirit of such ingenuity and innovation, the “Think Outside the Box” challenge inspires students to design something astronauts can print with the newly arrived 3D printer, limited by the dimensions of the apparatus – 10 cm x 10 cm x 14 cm –but, once assembled, is actually larger than those parameters, literally ‘outside the box’!

Making more with less: a must in space!

When it comes to space exploration, actual space is a hot commodity. The “Think Outside the Box” challenge addresses this priority, as rocket payloads are limited to save cargo space and fuel and sustainable technologies are needed to reduce, reuse, and recycle what is brought up.

Pioneering space technologies to inspire, examples of innovation to overcome the challenges of such significant limitations, include the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (Beam) and the Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) of Made In Space.

Beam allows for the transport of a relatively small package to expand upon arrival, and AMF, a permanent, commercial manufacturing facility, offers the opportunity to purchase necessary hardware in space instead of launching it.  The AMF 3D printer will also provide research that advances the long-term goal of developing off-planet manufacturing capabilities for destinations like the moon or Mars.

Think Outside the Box inspiring new generation of scientists and engineers

For young scientists and engineers, the Think Outside the Box challenge opens up a new world of possibilities in addition to exciting prizes.

The junior and teenage winners will receive a trip to Las Vegas for a VIP tour of Bigelow Aerospace and the finalists will win an expedition-worthy inflatable tent from Heimplanet.

The challenge will remain open through the summer and students must submit their expandable designs by August 1, 2016.

KAST Awarded $25,000 Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust Grant

Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust Grant

Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST) awarded $25,000 Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust Grant

Since 1998, the Kootenay Association for Science & Technology (KAST) has worked to foster a culture that values science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship as vital to the West Kootenay & Boundary region’s economic diversity/ competitiveness. A non-profit, KAST offers business development services, including coaching, expertise, training, and development projects to stimulate the growth of applied science and technology entrepreneurship.

KAST is establishing a centre for Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies (MIDAS) in Trail, B.C. This sector-targeted applied research and commercialization centre will provide technical training in metallurgical science and digital fabrication, a digital fabrication laboratory, and business development support for the region. MIDAS will support applied research and development of commercial applications and offer business mentoring.

“The MIDAS training program and equipment installation will result in the creation of one direct permanent full-time job and three direct part-time jobs with the indirect benefit of high quality rural jobs created and increasing metallurgical sector revenue, research and diversity in BC,” states Grace McGregor, SIDIT Chair.

Amber Hayes, MIDAS Project Director at the Kootenay Association for Science & Technology says, “We are grateful to SIDIT for their early support of MIDAS. In our region, with our metals expertise, MIDAS will enable us to use materials in new and novel ways that will provide us with a competitive advantage.”

The MIDAS lab is currently under construction, with specialized equipment training opportunities available. MIDAS will welcome the public in September 2016. To follow the development of the lab and learn more about the technologies, “like” the MIDAS Facebook page at

For more information contact:

Amber Hayes, MIDAS Project Director
Kootenay Association for Science & Technology

Lab to Expand Innovation In Our Region

Press Release ~

Columbia Basin Trust commits up to $850,000 to MIDAS initiative

(Columbia Basin) – Local entrepreneurs, students, academics and makers will be able to work with innovative materials, test out original products and get help bringing unique ideas and products to market at a new laboratory in Trail.

Known as MIDAS, the laboratory will help create new business opportunities, expand the skill sets of people who live here and increase regional competitiveness. It is being financed in part by up to $850,000 over four years from Columbia Basin Trust.
MIDAS stands for Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies, and is being spearheaded by the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST). There are two main parts to the laboratory.

The first is a fab lab, or “digital fabrication laboratory,” intended for rapid prototyping and training in additive manufacturing, which is a method of building 3-D objects by adding layer upon layer of material, such as plastic, metal or concrete. Users will be able to quickly create a model of an item—for example, a mechanical part or a snowboard—using 3-D computer-aided design and a 3-D printer. There will also be areas focused on electronics, laser cutting, molding, casting, metalwork and woodwork.

Companies and researchers can also explore commercial uses for metallurgical and chemical materials at MIDAS. KAST and partners will provide research-and-development and business-development services via the research organization Mitacs and the BC Venture Acceleration Program; if a new product developed in the lab has commercial potential, these services can help it reach the market successfully.

“In our region, with our metals expertise, MIDAS will enable us to use materials in new and novel ways that will provide us with a competitive advantage,” said Amber Hayes, MIDAS Project Director. “It will also provide businesses with the opportunity to get prototypes made locally—they have to be made elsewhere now. And it will allow us to train local people on how to use this equipment, which will be a high-demand skill as new technologies change the way manufacturing is being done.”

“This collaborative project will bring all sorts of people together—business people, students and researchers—to increase expertise and innovation in our region,” said Johnny Strilaeff, Columbia Basin Trust Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer. “We have so much local talent and so many resources, and with MIDAS we’ll also have the physical space and equipment. The potential for meaningful economic impact is exciting.”

The MIDAS lab is currently under construction, with specialized equipment training opportunities available. MIDAS will welcome the public in September 2016. To follow the development of the lab and learn more about the technologies, like the MIDAS Facebook page at

In addition to KAST and the Trust, MIDAS is supported by Community Futures of Greater Trail, Fenix Advanced Materials, Western Economic Diversification, Selkirk College and the Rural Development Institute, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Mitacs, BC Innovation Council, Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust, Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society and the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation.

Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit or call 1.800.505.8998.

The Kootenay Association for Science & Technology (KAST) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the continued growth of science and technology as key economic drivers in the West Kootenay-Boundary region of BC. KAST works with business and communities to support and showcase the opportunity provided by science, technology, entrepreneurship and innovation in our region. Visit

For more information please contact:
Amber Hayes, MIDAS

Harper Government Invests in British Columbia’s Kootenay Region Mining and Metals Industry

Press Release ~

July 13, 2015 – Trail, British Columbia – Western Economic Diversification Canada

Today, David Wilks, Member of Parliament for Kootenay—Columbia, on behalf of the Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, announced a $748,601 investment to the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST) to establish a metallurgical industry development accelerator in the West Kootenay.

Funding, provided through the Western Diversification Program, will allow KAST to establish and operate a centre for Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies (MIDAS). This sector-targeted applied research and commercialization centre will provide downstream metallurgical expertise, a digital fabrication laboratory, and business development support for the region.

MIDAS will assist with the establishment and growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by strengthening the direct-to-market deployment of mineral/metal by-products; supporting applied research and development of commercial applications; providing technical training in metallurgical science and digital fabrication; and offering business mentoring.

Quick Facts

  • The mining and metals industry is an important economic driver in B.C. with companies reporting $8.2 billion in revenue in 2014.
  • For the West Kootenay region, the mining and metalssector is an economic anchor providing major employment and creating a number of spin-off companies.
  • KAST works to foster a culture that values science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship as activities vital to maintaining and enhancing the economic diversity and competitiveness of the West Kootenay-Boundary region.


“Our Government recognizes that a robust economy relies on the strengths of all communities across the West. This investment will strengthen industry in B.C.’s rural sector, which will serve to diversify and strengthen Western Canada’s economy.”

– David Wilks, Member of Parliament for Kootenay—Columbia

“Long proximity to Teck’s Trail Operations has created a West Kootenay where our deep technical and entrepreneurial talent, industrial innovation and access to metallurgical material can create high quality rural jobs and opportunities for local businesses, all while enjoying our unbeatable access to the great outdoors. MIDAS provides companies and entrepreneurs the tools, coaching and technical expertise needed to succeed.”

– Leon Pigott, KAST Board Chair

Ben Standford
Regional Communications Manager
Western Economic Diversification Canada
Telephone: 604-666-3395

Erin Handy
Executive Director
Kootenay Association for Science & Technology Telephone: 250-362-5052

WD Toll-Free Number: 1-888-338-WEST (9378)
Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-877-303-3388
Website: WD is online at