The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and Seaspan Shipyards (Seaspan) have announced the establishment of a new research chair at BCIT. The Centre of Welding Technologies and Metallurgy Research Chair will be the first at BCIT to be exclusively based on funding and collaboration with an industry partner and will enhance BC-based industrial research capabilities in advanced welding and metallurgy – two of the most foundational and critical areas of marine manufacturing.
Seaspan has agreed to invest $1.65M over five years to fund the new research chair and a supporting center of expertise managed by an industry professional, with instructors, analysts, and associated research equipment and materials.
In collaboration with Seaspan, the new BCIT Research Chair will focus on advancing the state of practice in welding engineering – a critical manufacturing process in the building, repairing, and maintaining of ships. Welding technologies and metallurgy are highly complex fields that are evolving rapidly to address the needs of new ship designs and materials as well as the increasingly complex structural and operational requirements of modern vessels, including those used for icebreaking in harsh ocean conditions such as those in the high Arctic.
The Chair will identify and conduct applied research into emerging areas that are expected to provide Seaspan and the broader marine sector in BC with manufacturing advantages and competitive differentiation. The new technologies and techniques developed through the work of the Chair are also expected to lay the foundation for innovations in BCIT’s training and certification programs, addressing the growing need to continuously develop and train highly skilled BC-based talent.
The new Seaspan-BCIT collaboration will also provide immediate benefits for the ships Seaspan designs and builds under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. For example, the new Polar Icebreaker and fleet of Multi-Purpose Vessels will provide the Coast Guard with advanced icebreaking capabilities for Arctic and near-Arctic missions. The thicker steel needed to meet those requirements demands advanced and specialized welding technologies, and the program is expected to help develop advanced technologies, techniques, and training to meet these requirements.
The recruiting process for the research position is underway. BCIT and Seaspan are seeking an individual who possesses an advanced degree and experience in a metallurgy or material science engineering field with a specialty in welding to oversee the program.
This investment with BCIT is part of Seaspan’s Value Proposition commitment under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). Seaspan has a history of collaborating with BCIT and other academic institutions on a variety of initiatives, including training for Indigenous students, apprentice training, and specialized training for marine welders.
Alex Rueben, Executive Director, Association of British Columbia Marine Industries (ABCMI), said, “It is very encouraging to see Seaspan Shipyards working in partnership with BCIT in the creation of the Centre of Welding Technologies and Metallurgy Research Chair at BCIT. The Centre will benefit not only Seaspan, but also the broader industrial marine sector in British Columbia as it will investigate and integrate the world’s leading welding capabilities and bring new processes and techniques, including robotics and automation, into the provincial industry. This is an outstanding collaboration that really sets a template for industry and post-secondary collaboration that is needed by our industry to grow and succeed in the future.”