June/July 2009

Centre for Welding and Joining to open in the fall

University of Alberta names chair of new centre

By M. Eisner

Dr. Patricio F. Mendez has been named the Weldco/Industry chair at the newly created Canadian Centre for Welding and Joining, set to open in the fall at the University of Alberta’s faculty of engineering’s chemical and materials engineering department. Mendez will also serve as the centre’s director.

“This program will involve faculty in all five engineering departments at the University,” said Mendez. “Eleven companies are part of the endowment for the chaired welding position. We are developing a curriculum for a focus on welding at the BS and MS/MEng level and should be teaching one or two welding courses per semester. Among our areas of interest are welding technologies for heavy equipment used in mining operations.”

Research conducted at the centre will focus on productivity, weldability, automation and performance. Other studies will include new processes, materials and technologies; difficult-to-weld materials such as aged and embrittled alloys; and non-destructive testing, corrosion and fracture.

Alongside collaborative research and dissemination of knowledge, the centre will also place emphasis on the education and training of welding engineers and area experts. Engaging industry partners, students, educators, and welding practitioners through lecture, seminar, or symposium opportunities will further enhance collaboration between the centre and its stakeholders.

One challenge facing the directors of the new centre will be to determine in which fields of welding to initially specialize. “It’s all about trying to find where the needs are,” said Mendez, referring both to the needs of the students attempting to further their educations and the needs of the welding industry at large that will be putting these graduates to work. “We aim at revolutionizing welding at the application level. This involves new technologies, as well as quality, productivity, cost, safety and environmental improvements in existing technologies.”

Lead sponsor, Weldco Companies commented that the new centre, which will be the first and only one in Canada, is a good idea whose time has come. “When I heard about it, I felt it was something we were overdue for in this province and the country as a whole,” said Doug Schindel, president of Weldco. “It’s a plus not only for mining but for all industries that use welding.”

Schindel said that the field of welding that has not changed significantly in the last 25 years, and all industries, including mining, will benefit from improved performance and productivity as more research into the field produces enhanced automation and cleaner methods for welding.

“We’re not nearly as efficient as we could be with our welding operations,” he commented, “and the research and information coming out of the centre will go a long way to improving our productivity, from ensuring a better environment to discovering more practical applications.”

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