MIDAS LAB Transition to the Selkirk Technology Access Centre

It is with great pleasure that we announce that KAST’s project management of the MIDAS Lab will be changing at the end of March

First 3D metal printer in rural Canada arrives at MIDAS Lab in Trail

KAST’s MIDAS Lab just became the first rural fabrication lab in Canada to house a 3D metal printer. It’s big news for the Kootenay region as the benefits of having access to a machine of this kind will be felt throughout every local industry and sector.

Premier Announces Tech & Innovation Investments

Premier Announces Tech & Innovation Investments to spark economic growth, job creation

Premier announces tech & innovation investments to spark economic growth &  job creation

Great news came out of last week’s #BCTECH Summit in Vancouver with the announcement of significant tech and innovation investment by Premier John Horgan.  Understanding the importance of technology to the economy of British Columbia, and to help spark B.C. innovation, economic growth and new jobs throughout the province, the provincial government is putting money towards tech-based research and advanced training opportunities.

“B.C. succeeds when British Columbians succeed — and our province’s tech sector is proving that every day,” said Premier Horgan, adding that the sector has over 10,000 companies employing more than 106,000 people.

“Our job is to provide opportunities and partnerships that help companies and individuals innovate, succeed and grow. This approach delivers more jobs and a stronger economy, and helps support health care, education, housing and other public services that make British Columbia a great place to live and work.”

Over $102.6 million will be earmarked for 75 post-secondary research projects in B.C., through the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF). The projects will develop B.C.’s expertise and innovation in fields such as advanced supercomputing and clean technology, to spur job creation, talent development and commercialize innovation.

To attract and retain the best graduate students, the B.C. government will invest $12 million in graduate degree scholarships over the next three years. The funding will support priority areas such as science, tech, engineering and mathematics programs, as well as Indigenous students and regional programs. The Province will also invest in women-in-technology scholarships to inspire a new generation of women to take up science and tech-based professions.

To further develop tech talent, $10.5 million will be invested in co-op opportunities and entrepreneurial training for post-secondary students, so they can gain vital hands-on experience to be job-ready when they enter the tech sector.

“B.C.’s success comes from the ideas, innovation and inspiration of people who call this province home,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “From a two-person startup, to large established tech firms and traditional resource industries, innovation can deliver a wealth of benefits to people, companies and our provincial economy. It is about creating good jobs for people in every corner of the province.”

To help make it easier for tech companies to recruit top international talent to B.C., government will expand its Provincial Nominee Program Tech Pilot. That means priority processing for people in tech occupations, such as biotechnologists, software engineers and web developers.

“Investing in innovation is the best thing we can do to set our province up for success,” said Andrew Weaver, BC Green Party leader. “Technology is driving global growth and has the potential to add value to every sector of B.C.’s economy. This minority government is a unique opportunity to come together to champion a bold vision for the future of our province, and I am proud to be working in partnership with the government to support our tech sector.”

The B.C. government will unveil a provincewide tech strategy next year that will help provide all people with the ability to work and prosper in the communities they call home. In turn, the Province will invest in health care, education, housing and other public services that make B.C. a great place to live and work.

The Province of British Columbia is hosting the third-annual #BCTECH Summit on May 14-16, 2018, in partnership with Innovate BC, the Province’s Crown agency. Innovate BC encourages the development and application of advanced or innovative technologies to meet the needs of B.C. industry.

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, “As part of our tech-expansion, we’re adding 2,900 more tech spaces, launching a graduate student scholarship fund and providing awards for women pursuing a science or tech-based profession. We’re breaking down barriers to good-paying jobs for people in the booming tech sector by making post-secondary education more accessible and affordable.”

Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services, “Having access to reliable, high-speed internet is the foundation for the growing digital economy, and essential for the expansion of technology and innovation in every corner of our province. It is important that this growing sector be fostered everywhere in B.C. That is why we are investing in connectivity for rural, remote and Indigenous communities, because we believe that everyone — no matter where they live — should have the tools they need to be part of this important industry.”

Quick Facts:

  • The tech sector in B.C. is one of the fastest growing sectors of its economy, supporting over 106,000 good-paying jobs. It is home to more than 10,200 businesses.
  • Over 83,400 tech-related jobs openings are expected by 2027 — jobs such as computer programmers, engineers, information system analysts and software designers.
  • In January 2018, the B.C. government announced 2,900 tech-related spaces that will produce 1,000 additional tech-grads a year by 2023, to improve access to training and education. This includes the first full civil and environmental engineering program in the North at the University of Northern British Columbia, and the first full software engineering program in the Interior at Thompson River University. To support these new spaces, the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training plans to increase investment up to $42 million a year in ongoing funding.
  • In April 2018, the B.C. government partnered with the Government of Canada to provide B.C. biotechnology company STEMCELL Technologies with $45 million to create up to 2,170 B.C. jobs by 2031, and build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Burnaby.
  • Also in April 2018, the Province, together with the federal government and the Alacrity Foundation, provided the Cleantech Scale-Up program with over $787,000 to help promising clean tech companies throughout B.C. get investment-ready and sell to new markets.
  • In February 2018, Alan Winter was appointed B.C.’s first innovation commissioner as an advocate for the tech and innovation sector in Ottawa, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor and abroad.

Redefining Teck’s By-Products

Trail Operations partners with MIDAS to explore new ways to create value from slag

Metallurgical slags, by-products of Teck’s lead-zinc smelting and refining complex in Trail, B.C., are at the centre of a three-year research project led by the University of British Columbia Okanagan. Graduate students are looking at ways to extract and refine valuable rare elements from the slag, which can be used  commercially in semiconductors and other electronic applications.

Much of this is unfolding at MIDAS (Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies), a fabrication lab located in Trail, where this project is able to flourish, along with other technical opportunities heating up in the region.

A Centre for Regional Innovation

From the outside, MIDAS could be another retail shop in a strip of small businesses, but inside, technology and innovation are at the forefront. The applied research, commercialization and digital fabrication training facility services the metallurgical sector that clusters around Teck’s Trail Operations. MIDAS makes advanced manufacturing technology—including 3D printing—accessible to many in West Kootenay, B.C.

MIDAS, a public-private enterprise initiated by the Kootenay Association of Science & Technology (KAST) and Fenix Advanced Materials, opened in 2016 to leverage the region’s technical talent, commercialize new products and technologies, and diversify the local economy.

“Part of the rationale for building MIDAS here in Trail is the proximity to Teck’s Trail Operations,” explains Amber Hayes, project director for MIDAS. Science & Technology (KAST) and Fenix Advanced Materials, opened in 2016 to leverage the region’s technical talent, commercialize new products and technologies, and diversify the local economy.

Regional companies use the facility and its equipment to supplement their business. For example, manufacturers can digitally print test prototypes in plastic before creating their products in wood or metal, training programs can be downloaded and accessed virtually, and aging equipment can be reverse-engineered. These disruptive technologies are not only being accessed by engineers, but also by resident artists, students and entrepreneurs.

“There is also a strong material stewardship opportunity with MIDAS for Trail Operations,” says Greg Richards, Superintendent, Knowledge Management, Trail Operations (pictured below). Greg is also a metallurgical engineer and serves as Chair of the Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society’s Metallurgical Committee, which works to advance business development and economic strength in Trail and surrounding areas.

“Being able to provide our by-products to MIDAS improves our ability to maximize the value of our materials across their life cycle while providing economic development opportunities for other companies and our region,” adds Greg.

When the facility was being commissioned, MIDAS also took the opportunity to gain critical safety expertise from Trail Operations.

Dallas Cain, Trail Operations’ Superintendent of Health and Safety, together with Chris D’Odorico, Manager of Health and Safety, supported MIDAS in developing the safety program for the site, which includes equipment operator training, lock-out procedures and facility safety management.

“MIDAS provided a real locus for the ideas that had been generated around regional metallurgical technology and innovation,” says Greg, recalling the number of discussions and attempts at something like MIDAS over the years. “I believe that MIDAS was the missing piece that we needed to help advance opportunities in our area.”

Originally posted at Teck Connect.

MIDAS Fab Lab, A Golden Opportunity

Originally published at Trail Times.

As the Fab Lab says, “incubators aren’t just for chicks anymore.”

That said, there has been a flock of newbie techies walking through the front doors of MIDAS every week since the state-of-the-art facility opened in Trail last fall.

Known as “Mr. Technology,” Lab Director Brad Pommen has introduced almost 1,000 people from all walks of life to the Glenmerry space – even on a snowy Friday evening (Feb. 3) nine people were signed up for a laser cutting and 3D printing tutorial.

“Since opening, we’ve run 218 people through courses and just over 600 in tours,” Pommen began. “And I just ran 150 high school students, from J.L. Crowe and Stanley Humphries, through here over two days.”

MIDAS (Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration Studies) is a multimillion-dollar technology base that offers its membership the skills and courses required to operate advanced machines such as 3D printers, 3D scanners, laser cutters and CNC milling equipment.

The lab is available to beginner and advanced learners over the age of 16. No matter the level of expertise, however, all users must complete a competency course designed to get them using one or more pieces of the costly equipment. Safety precautions are posted and respective manuals are on hand, however, Pommen and the MIDAS floor staff are always nearby to ensure each machine is used safely – after all, the equipment is top notch and worth at least a half million dollars.

So it’s not a stretch to say that creative minds and innovators in the region, like Nicolene McKenzie, Mich Duvernet and Eric Holloway, would be limited in terms of technological opportunity without the regional MIDAS ‘fab’rication space.

The Trail Times dropped by the facility during a blustery Friday afternoon (Feb. 3), curious about who actually uses the lab on a typical day as well as the “why” such sophisticated equipment is needed. All three people in the digital laboratory drove over an hour on slushy roads to get to the Trail site, and all three were intensely focused on their prototype design.

Nicolene McKenzie is a recent graduate from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. After completing the Industrial Design Program, she moved back to her hometown of Nelson for a bit of a breather while exploring her next career move.
MIDAS fits into the picture as a vital resource the young designer needs to up her game with hands-on experience.

“I was very familiar with 3D printing, laser cutting and the CNC machine,” McKenzie explained. “But the program (Emily Carr) was very busy, and I didn’t get a lot of chance (to use the equipment). So I am looking to explore this area more, and how I can bring that to my practice which is designing products, as well as my artistic practice.”

She found out about the Trail facility through word of mouth, recently completed the “Shopbot CNC” course, and was walking through the program that afternoon.
“For me this will be more hands on, because at school we sent our (design) files to the technician and they did the work,” she said. “Today I am going to try cutting out some basic shapes to use for jewelry or tile designs -this is my first time so it is exciting for me.”

Seated at another table that afternoon were two friends from Winlaw.

Originally from Ottawa, Mich Duvernet, a former ski guide, brought along computer savvy Eric Holloway. They also recently completed the Shopbot CNC course and were gearing up to begin prototyping a lighting fixture.
The digital fabrication laboratory or “Fab Lab” is intended for rapid prototyping and training in additive manufacturing, which is a method of building 3D objects by adding layer upon layer of material, such as plastic, metal, wood or concrete.
Users are able to quickly create a model of an item like a mechanical part, for example, using 3D computer-aided design and 3D printer. Electronics, circuit construction, CNC machines, molding, casting, metalwork and woodwork are other areas of focus.

“We are working on a lighting design that I am bringing to market,” said Duvernet. “I’ve been doing a lot of this kind of stuff, like the finicky bits and pieces by hand. Since I know what I am going to make, now I am able to make those parts in such a way that they are just perfect,” he added. “So when when it gets presented, it’s more on the professional level and the transition to manufacturing is really easy.”

Following MIDAS’ orientation, Duvernet says he was ready to tap into his creative potential.
“You start with simple shapes and then the more you do, the more it opens up new possibilities. And the imagination starts working in a different way … rather than being limited, maybe down the road I can take this know-how and use it somewhere else.”

With a computer background, Holloway was on hand to help out with the software program. However, the MIDAS lab was proving to be a valuable learning tool for him as well.
“I want to be able to output (send design file) to these kind of machines, more than I have been doing,” Holloway said. “I’ve been doing that part of it for awhile, but haven’t actually run the machines. It’s kind of like I don’t really know what is happening on that end, so I want to be able to do that – and I am getting more hands on with some very expensive pieces of equipment.”

And at the end of the day, that is the MIDAS goal – to familiarize users with advanced equipment and provide the appropriate training to get the most out of the facility and its equipment based on those specific needs.

For Pommen, it’s all in a days work.
He’s always on hand to help, but he’s not there to do the actual project.
“They might say, ‘I have it loaded, now what?” he chuckled. “And I’ll say, ‘Let’s push the button together.’”

New Ways To Benefit From New Technologies

New Ways To Benefit From New Technologies

Media Release~

With new technologies such as 3D printers, 3D scanners and computer numeric control (CNC) machines beginning to hit the mainstream, it is easier than ever for businesses to benefit from their use.

Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, “New technologies are giving businesses more and more opportunities to grow, and it is important that there are people ready to step into jobs to do just that. I’m excited for the findings of this study, which will give us more information on what we can do to better prepare the workforce to meet the coming demand.”

Finding employees who are trained to use that technology is the difficult part, as is figuring out how new technology can fit into business plans. But the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST) is set to learn more about what can be done to fill that gap. Through a new study, KAST plans to identify skills gaps and training opportunities in the Kootenay metallurgical and manufacturing industries thanks to more than $26,000 in government funding.

KAST is a non-profit organization that offers business-development services such as coaching, expertise, training, and development projects to stimulate the growth of applied science and technology entrepreneurship.

Through their Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies (MIDAS) centre and interviews of at least 40 local businesses, KAST plans to find new ways to train job seekers on these new technologies, while giving businesses a better idea of how new technologies can help grow their operations.

Amber Hayes, MIDAS project director, Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies, “We will be determining the technical skills and knowledge level our local industry requires. Research and future programing analysis will be completed via the new MIDAS Fab Lab team and regional partners Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation, Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute and Selkirk College. This initiative will support local business and employment, and elevates our community in its understanding and leveraging of technology to its benefit. We are excited to receive the Labour Market Partnership funding to survey our local industry and begin this valuable process.”

Government funding will help KAST report on specific training needs from local employers in the advanced manufacturing and metallurgical sectors and create a strategy for delivering those needs.

It is a study aimed at creating better opportunities for people in the Kootenays to gain a foothold in B.C.’s growing technology sector while helping businesses reach their full potential.

Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation funding for the project is provided through Labour Market Partnerships stream of the Community and Employer Partnerships program, which funds projects that increase employability levels and shares labour market information.

Community and Employer Partnerships are featured in B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint and provides support to people who are struggling to gain a foothold in the job market. It also helps build stronger partnerships with industry and labour to connect British Columbians with classroom instruction and on-the-job training, while making it easier for employers to hire the skilled workers they need – when and where they need them.

The project aligns with the #BCTECH Strategy, a key component of the BC Jobs Plan to support the growth of B.C.’s vibrant technology sector and strengthen British Columbia’s diverse innovation economy. The multi-year strategy includes a $100-million BC Tech Fund and initiatives to increase talent development and market access for tech companies that will drive innovation and productivity throughout the province.

In partnership with the BC Innovation Council, the province is hosting B.C.’s second #BCTECH Summit, March 14-15, 2017, with made-in-B.C. tech innovations, thought-provoking keynotes and outstanding networking opportunities. To register or learn more, go to: http://bctechsummit.ca/

Quick Facts:

  • MIDAS is an applied research, commercialization and digital fabrication training facility in Trail focused on the metallurgical sector in the region surrounding the Teck Trail Operations smelter.
  • In 2016-17, the Ministry of Social development and Social Innovation has committed to investing $331 million in employment and labour market programs under the Employment Program of British Columbia.
  • The Employment Program of BC is funded by the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada through the Labour Market Development Agreement.
  • Funding supports 84 WorkBC Employment Services Centres throughout the province and the five components of the Community and Employer Partnerships fund:
    • Job Creation Partnerships
    • Labour Market Partnerships
    • Project-Based Labour Market Training
    • Research and Innovation
    • Social Innovation

Who is eligible for Community and Employer Partnerships funding?

  • Businesses
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Crown corporations
  • Municipalities, agencies or territorial governments
  • First Nation bands/tribal councils
  • Public health and educational institutions

Learn More:

Learn more about the Kootenay Association of Science and Technology: www.kast.com

For more information on Community and Employer Partnerships: www.workbc.ca/CEP

Find a local WorkBC Employment Services Centre: www.workbccentres.ca

Learn more about the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation: www.gov.bc.ca/sdsi

For more information on B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: www.workbc.ca/skills

To find out more about the BC Jobs Plan: www.engage.gov.bc.ca/bcjobsplan/

For more information about the #BCTECH Strategy: www.bctechstrategy.ca

Learn more about the #BCTECH Summit coming in March 2017: http://bctechsummit.ca

Originally posted at BC Gov News.


MIDAS in the News: Rossland and Trail attracting technology talent


Rossland is best known for its skiing. Over the years, it has produced a disproportionate number of Olympic skiers – Nancy Greene Raine among them – and has been voted one of the top 10 places in the world to visit by the New York Times and No. 1 ski town in North America by Powder Magazine.
But the tiny B.C. town of 3,600 – tucked away in the bottom southeast corner of the province – is reinventing and marketing itself as the next satellite of Silicon Valley North….

Trail, however, which is just a 10-minute drive from Rossland, has rail service – including the BNSF Railway – and a regional airport that will soon undergo an expansion.

Another initiative aimed at developing high-tech and manufacturing sectors is the new Metallurgical Industrial Development Acceleration and Studies (MIDAS) centre in Trail.

Built with funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada and Columbia Basin Trust, the $2 million facility is a research and development and commercialization centre for manufacturing.

The new institute includes a fabrication lab with $400,000 worth of digital manufacturing equipment: 3D printers and scanners, laser cutters, lathes and CNC (computer numeric control) machining tools.

Entrepreneurs can buy a membership and use the lab to design prototypes of everything from toys and medical devices to drones and airplane components.

MIDAS also provides business support services to help entrepreneurs commercialize new products.

“One of our assets is having a metallurgical cluster,” said MIDAS project director Amber Hayes. “In Trail, we have Teck. There’s a number of different businesses that have sprung up to support Teck or use byproducts of Teck, and MIDAS is involved in research and development projects in partnership with Teck and the University of British Columbia-Okanagan…..

(click article to 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

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.”

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