Innovation motivation at Durham College

Photo by Rebecca Calzavara

Debbie McKee Demczyk, dean, Office of Research Services Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE) at Durham College.

It’s time to congratulate Durham College (DC). It has been ranked one of Canada’s top 50 research colleges for the fourth consecutive year.

According to Research Infosource Inc. Durham College is ranked 45th this year. Last year it was ranked 36th and the previous two years it was 25th.

The annual list is determined by data on research income, research intensity and research partnerships and projects at colleges across the country.

The top college this year was CEGEP de Saint-Hyacinthe College in Quebec.

Debbie McKee Demczyk, dean, Office of Research Services Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE) at Durham College, said being in the top 50 is good for Durham College, given that there are more institutions being ranked each year.

“Being apart of the top 50 is an honour,” McKee Demczyk said, “the point is to celebrate college applied research every year.”

According to McKee Demczyk, applied research is doing small projects which are incremental in nature.

“We take our very practical skills that we learn in programs and we are applying them to industry,” McKee Demczyk explained. “Getting involved with applied research is a great way to enhance skills. Things that you learn in the class help solve real problems. It’s a great opportunity to develop teamwork skills and problem solving skills.”

Durham College continues to initiate and support a variety of research projects. Some of these projects include:

Gaming Suit Control System

Imagine a wearable suit that totally immerses users into the reality of their virtual game. There are sensors all over the suit so that there are realistic impacts in the video games and has all surround sound.

According to DC, Inventing Future Technology Inc. (IFTech) is a high-tech company with a focus on Immersive Wearable Technologies and its product ‘As Real As It Gets’ (ARAIG) can change your game experience completely.

IFTech worked with DC to improve the controller with a wireless communications protocol. According to McKee Demczyk, father and son games, came up with the idea and approached DC for help with a proto type they built and “didn’t know how to get where he wanted to go with it.”

“They were sitting on the couch one day playing a video game and they felt like they were missing out on something and they thought the market needed something to make this more an immersive experience,” McKee Demczyk explained.

The Drone Project

McKee Demczyk explained that DC is trying to do more research to do more for the agricultural community.

Woodleigh Farms Ltd. an agricultural crop producer, approached DC to get help with software that allows the drones to give farmers them high resolution images of their crops.

“The drones go over farm land and takes pictures. By taking pictures they can start to see from the sky where areas of the crops aren’t growing as well,” McKee Demczyk explained.

McKee Demczyk said the farmer who has the drones now has a competitive advantage over other farmers because the software can show where crops are failing to grow and show if there there are pests causing problems.

Health App

Imagine an app that is able to connect someone with their doctor at any given time of the day.

According to DC,, a clinically-validated web and mobile platform approached DC for help with getting its app up and running.

McKee Demczyk explained it is an interface between patients and their caregivers and doctors. The app gives people the ability to communicate and share information with doctors.

The app is now ‘live’ and has helped health care institutions improve quality of care while enhancing the capacity for remote monitoring she said.

According to McKee Demczyk, projects done with Durham College’s ORSIE program are novel and creative. Many students get hired by the companies that approach Durham College’s ORSIE program for help and come back for a second time to work on another project.

“Some of the projects we do are fun and cool,” McKee Demczyk said.