Sheridan ranks first in Ontario in applied research funding


Sheridan College is ahead of the curve in the field of applied research in Ontario, according to a new study.

A study by Research Infosource Inc. listed Canada's Top 50 Research Colleges 2013, according to each college's funding in applied research.

A study by Research Infosource Inc. ranked Canada’s top 50 research colleges according to their applied research funding.

In a list published last month by Research Infosource Inc. that ranked the top 50 research colleges in Canada by total research income, Sheridan placed first in Ontario and sixth overall in the country.

“It means a great deal to us,” Sheridan president Jeff Zabudsky said. “I was pleased to see those rankings come out. We’ve invested a lot of energy in the last few years in going after federal funds for applied research.”

Sheridan’s dean of undergraduate research, Darren Lawless, added that the ranking is a tremendous validation for the college.

“We’re very grateful for all the support that we get,” he said. “All the money gets piled back into ways of ensuring that our students participate in real-life challenges.”

According to the list, Sheridan ranked first in Ontario with $4.5 million in applied research income last year, followed closely by Seneca College with $ 4.3 million.

However, obtaining research financing through federal grant agencies isn’t as easy as simply asking for a quick hand out.

“There’s a huge competition for them, and you have to demonstrate great competency and strength in particular research areas to get them,” Zabudsky said. “This is a testament to the various programs at Sheridan that are involved in applied research, and it’s a testament to the quality of those programs.”

Although the rankings published by Research Infosource Inc. named the Screen Industries Research & Training Centre (SIRT) as being Sheridan’s primary research facility, a media release on the subject said that Sheridan was involved in more than 85 areas of applied research that supported more than 73 organizations in 2012-2013.

Sheridan has a multitude of research projects that cover as many faculties as possible, including the Sheridan Elder Research Centre (SERC), the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies (CAMDT), and other social innovations, Lawless said.

“We’re looking for opportunities that benefit all students across all faculties,” he added. “We’re broad-based in our thinking.”

Sheridan also differentiates itself by emphasizing practical learning.

Sheridan applies what students are learning in the classroom to real life, Lawless said. “So it’s not theoretical, it becomes more of an exercise in applying what’s being taught from real life problems.”

Additionally, practical learning gives students a chance to apply their knowledge outside of the classroom.

“Sheridan has made a commitment to move into the realm of applied research, not because we want to chase research dollars, but because we want to create great learning opportunities for our students,” Zabudsky added. “The work that’s happening at the Sheridan Elder Research Centre has student involvement in the research that’s taking place there. The Screen Industries Research & Training Centre – that’s based out of Toronto at Pinewood Studios – absolutely involves students or recent graduates. So, we’re not doing this in isolation of our students, it’s about adding to the learning experience.”

In the traditional, university-level research environment, faculty members and graduate students undertake most of the research, Zabudsky said.

But that’s not Sheridan’s philosophy.

“I think that’s what I’m particularly proud of, is that we’ve stuck to the commitment that any research we do is not isolated from students. It engages students directly,” Zabudsky added.

The top five colleges ranked for applied research funding in Canada included SAIT Polytechnic, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, the College of the North Atlantic, Yukon College, and the British Columbia Institute of Technology.


Employees at the Sheridan Elder Research Centre (SERC), Project Coordinator Marta Owsik and Principal Researcher & Project Manager Lia Tsotsos, took the time to demonstrate brain-training software by Posit Science called BrainHQ. The software is designed to enhance a person’s attention, memory, brain speed, intelligence, people skills, and navigation skills.

Click here to check out the infographic by Greg Longley.