It was at the recent FIRST Robotics Ontario District Championship reception that EDO hosted in Mississauga, that reinforced how important it is for a community to invest in the education and training of youth, to help grow and sustain a talented labour force. The talent and skill level of the participating students was impressive as they practically applied Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) in a fun and competitive way.
What is great to see, is that many of these students continue their post-secondary education in STEAM, and as graduates become valuable resources for employers who want to hire motivated and talented youth. Or in some cases, STEAM graduates become entrepreneurs and start their own businesses. For this reason, it is important that the City takes an active role in ensuring that our students not only learn in Mississauga but stay in Mississauga, and become thought leaders and contributors to Mississauga’s innovative ecosystem.
We are fortunate to have two large post-secondary campuses in Mississauga, the University of Toronto Mississauga and Sheridan College that is located in the city’s downtown. With support from the City and various levels of government, these campuses have expanded greatly over the past five years allowing for new programming and additional enrollment by the thousands.
Just this year, Sheridan College received $1.2 million in funding from the Province’s Colleges Applied Research and Development Fund (CARDF) to support three exciting and innovative projects that call for a variety of disciplines within the STEAM spectrum. One of these projects include; Virtual Human Characters – interactive, computer generated characters that have the capacity to communicate using natural human facial expressions, speech, gestures, and convey emotions and empathy. Virtual humans are destined to play a primary role, not only within media and entertainment, but also in areas of social and individual well-being, including health care and education.
The University of Toronto Mississauga has seen some great start-ups coming out of iCUBE, the business accelerator at the Institute for Management and innovation. Just Vertical, a company created by two Master of Science in Sustainability Management (MScSM) students, Conner Tidd and Kevin Jakiela, create indoor modular “farm walls” that are energy and water-efficient devices that hydroponically grow plants on vertical tower structures. Not only is this company innovative, it is sustainable it helps the environment.
These are just a few examples of the amazing things happening right here in our schools that rely on government and community support to help create opportunities for students to gain practical experience in their learning that will prepare them for the workforce.
Mississauga’s skilled and talented labour force is a strong driver for business attraction and retention, and it is important that EDO continues to work with our businesses and education partners to ensure the sustainability of our talent pool and the prosperity of our economy.