Bhavin Shastri in his lab

Building Canada's future tech workforce

By Kayla Dettinger, Special Projects Officer

Three new training programs for highly qualified students and postdoctoral fellows will be developed at Queen’s following successful funding from the federal government’s Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program. From a total of $26 million announced in funding, the new Queen’s programs will provide students and faculty the research training and technical skills to advance science and enter the workforce in fields related to cleantech, AI and quantum computing, and robotics. Overall, the funding will support 16 programs, with Queen's having the highest number of successful projects. Previous CREATE-funded programs at Queen’s provide specialized training in medical informatics, cybersecurity, and watershed sustainability.

Facilitated by Canada’s federal granting agencies, the CREATE program is designed to encourage collaborative and integrative approaches to address scientific challenges and facilitate the transition of new researchers from trainees to employees in the Canadian workforce. CREATE-funded programs foster the acquisition of important professional skills among students and postdoctoral fellows that complement their qualification and technical skills and improve their job readiness for careers in industry, government, and academia. Grants provide up to $1.65 million in support over six years to establish the program, with the majority of funds allocated to trainees’ stipends.

"Queen’s is excited to host three new CREATE programs that aim to solve scientific challenges and develop highly qualified personnel in areas critical to societal advancement," says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). "We are building on our track record of excellence in research training and consider CREATE an exemplary model to advance our institutional goal of research and teaching integration."

Queen’s CREATE programs

NUCLEUS: Network for Ultrafast Computing with Light on Emerging Unconventional Semiconductors - Co-led by Bhavin Shastri (Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy) and Joyce Poon (University of Toronto), NUCLEUS aims to pioneer Canada’s first formal training program in photonics, bridging AI and quantum computing. Photontics is the enabler that can advance both fields and has the power to reduce inequity in computing resources. The program brings together researchers and experts across six universities, numerous industry partners, and global and national academic entities. Integrating key technologies, experiential learning, and professional training, NUCLEUS will equip graduates for a variety of roles – from managing large-scale photonic circuit design fabrication, integration, and packaging to software tools, cloud computing, algorithms, and applications. NUCLEUS is also designed to align with the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy and Canada’s National Quantum Strategy to support the growth and intersection of these sectors, particularly through the training of HQP.

PLASTICS: Plastic Affordance through Science and Technology Innovation for Circular Solutions - Led by James McLellan (Chemical Engineering; Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre [DDQIC]), PLASTICS will provide training in cutting-edge technical skills vital to the clean (bio)tech industry, focusing on bio-based approaches for plastics circularity.

ADVENTOR: Advanced Engineering and Training in Next-Generation Mobile Robotics for Human Spaces - Led by Amy Wu (Mechanical and Materials Engineering; Ingenuity Labs Research Institute), ADVENTOR is a unique training program focused specifically on mobile robots that interact or work closely with people in unstructured or human-built environments.

To learn more about these and other CREATE-funded programs, visit the NSERC website.