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Student research gets $8.6M boost from B.C. government

Funding will increase work opportunities while developing ideas, projects around clean energy
Mitchell Miller, CEO of Atlas Power Technologies in Abbotsford, gives a tour of his facility to ministers Ravi Kahlon and Anne Kang on Aug. 24. (Jessica Peters/Abbotsford News)

An Abbotsford tech manufacturing facility was the backdrop for an $8.6 million funding announcement from the province last week.

The funding will support more than 1,700 research internships in fields like clean technology and emergency management. And that’s exactly what they’re doing at Atlas Power Technologies, where they have been developing supercapacitors with the help of student researchers.

The one-time provincial investment is for the Mitacs Accelerate and Elevate programs that connect student researchers with innovative companies to provide students with real-world experience in applying their research. The students who receive these grants work in sectors and on projects that support priority areas such as clean technology, life sciences, emergency management and advanced timber.

Anne Kang, minister of advanced education and skill training, and Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, were at Atlas Power Technologies for a tour of the operations.

Mitchell Miller, the company’s CEO, gave them the tour including a chance to hold supercapacitors and learn more about them.

Supercapacitors are an alternative to batteries, and are electrochemical devices that rapidly charge and discharge energy, which makes them “ideal to support a renewable energy grid.”

They are about the size of a coffee cup, and several packed together are about the same size as a car battery. They can be used quickly in emergency situations, and they’re created with byproducts of oil sands. Those materials are refined them to make high-grade, activated carbon, which is a necessary component of supercapacitors.

The company has already promoted research students within the company, and they are eager to bring on more students for future growth.

The positions mean students can look forward to meaningful work and real-world opportunities, said Kang.

“By continuing to work with industry through organizations like Mitacs, with the thousands of internships they facilitate, we’re helping students get a leg up in the innovation and technology community,” she said. “In turn, student researchers are helping us find the best, newest innovations like transforming coal into clean-energy storage and finding the most sustainable way to keep patients warm in hospitals after surgeries, preventing hypothermia and improving recovery times.”

The funding will help students create innovative, research-based solutions to challenges faced by not-for-profit organizations, B.C. businesses, and communities throughout British Columbia. The paid internships are administered through Mitacs, a national not-for-profit organization that builds partnerships between undergraduate and graduate student researchers, post-secondary institutions, industry, not-for-profit organizations and communities.

READ MORE: Clean energy start-up company building supercapacitor facility in Abbotsford


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Minister Anne Kang prepares for a tour of a tech facility in Abbotsford on Aug. 24, after announcing $8.6 million in funding for student research positions. (Jessica Peters/Abbotsford News)
(Jessica Peters/Abbotsford News)
(Jessica Peters/Abbotsford News)

Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
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