News Archives: GPRC Grad Gets Real World Experience
Thursday, July 6th, 2017
As any recent college graduate will tell you, the best way to prepare for the ‘real world’ is by getting hands-on experience while still in school. That is what GPRC alumnus Matt Martin has been doing for two straight summers thanks to a double internship opportunity: first with the College’s Information Technology (IT) department, and then with GPRC Research & Innovation (R&I).
Martin spent last summer working as an intern for the GPRC IT department. As a recent GPRC Computing Science Diploma program graduate, Martin was in the midst of working on his four-year degree from Athabasca University. Being able to work with computers in the IT department was what first brought Martin into contact with Dr. Weixing Tan, a GPRC instructor and researcher whose work on Pollutants to Products (P2P) has achieved acclaim and commercial success throughout the region. The P2P microalgae project involves the efficient, inexpensive mass production of microalgae using patented technology developed by Tan.
Tan’s project requires a complex computer automation system to operate. Luckily, that’s Martin’s specialty. “The system is made up of many different parts, and at the time before my involvement, they were all segmented,” explained Martin. “That was a problem because we wanted to create an integrated automated system. So I’m basically the programmer that brings all of these parts together and integrates them into one system.”
Tan was thrilled to find a capable, motivated candidate in Martin. “I feel fortunate to have Matt on our team,” he said. “He takes high interest, ownership, and pride in what he does.” Tan added that involving students in research is a cornerstone of the College’s overall mission, insisting, “There is tremendous talent in GPRC students and faculty.”
Martin says working with Tan and the P2P team has been an unforgettable opportunity. “We work very well together,” he said, adding that Tan’s hands-off approach to mentoring gives Martin the freedom to learn by doing.
“I think what’s happening in R&I and in GPRC as a whole is something to be proud of,” Martin continued. “What’s happening here could put Grande Prairie on the map.”
According to Martin, one of the strongest elements of this project is its principal investigator. “I think Weixing sincerely believes this is his gift to the world. It’s something that could potentially save the planet. He’s very enthusiastic, and that enthusiasm is contagious – I want to do whatever I can to help the man achieve his goal.”
Martin is grateful for the opportunities he has had at GPRC. “I think people really underestimate just how incredible GPRC is. I’m proud of my computer science program. It’s been fantastic.” As the P2P microalgae project moves forward with more patent applications and exciting plans for commercialization, Martin is proud to know he has become part of something truly incredible.
Are you a GPRC student or recent graduate? To keep up with current internship and research opportunities in GPRC’s R&I department, click here: https://www.gprc.ab.ca/careers/