Meet China’s first Master Sommelier as three contenders make grade

A Niagara College wine grad Lu Yang has become the first Master Sommelier in China. Yang is currently corporate wine director for Shangri-La Hotels globally.  An article posted by on August 22 features the NC grad’s achievement. View it here.  

Bench Brewing partners with Niagara College Teaching Brewery

Bench Brewing Company president Matt Giffen (front, fourth from left), the first recipient of the Bench Brewing Graduating Student Award, Matthew Shea (front, fifth from left), and NC president Dan Patterson (front, third from right), are joined by students and faculty from the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program and the team from Bench Brewing Company to celebrate a $30,000 gift from Bench Brewing.

Matt Giffen, president of Bench Brewing Company (third from left) presents a $30,000 donation to Niagara College president Dan Patterson (second from left) to establish the Bench Brewing Graduating Student Award. Pictured (from left) are Steve Gill (Niagara College Learning Enterprises Corp. general manager), Dan Patterson (NC president), Matt Giffen (president, Bench Brewing Company), Gary Torraville (NC Canadian Food and Wine Institute associate dean), Craig Youdale (NC Canadian Food and Wine Institute dean), and program professor Jon Downing (NC Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management).


With a $30,000 donation to Niagara College, Bench Brewing is pleased to announce its long-term partnership with the Niagara College Teaching Brewery to award three scholarships each year to outstanding graduates starting August 9, 2017.  As the craft brewing industry continues to grow in quality and reputation, these scholarships will continue fostering innovation, inspire high standards of excellence and prepare graduates for professional success.

“We are honoured to begin a long-term partnership with the Niagara College Teaching Brewery in providing an annual scholarship for outstanding graduating students,” said Matt Giffen, founder and president of Bench Brewing. “These talented new graduates represent the future of the Ontario craft beer industry as it continues to grow and strive for new levels of quality and innovation.”

Partnering with the Niagara College Teaching Brewery, Canada’s first and largest teaching brewery, will help further academic and professional excellence not only for graduates, but also incoming students.

“We thank Bench brewing for its generous support that not only supports the future of the craft beer industry, but our mission of ‘enriching lives and fulfilling dreams’ of our students,” said Craig Youdale, dean of Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute.

“The very generous award set up by Matt of Bench Brewing recognizes two of the key attributes of any brewer and their products, quality and consistency,” said Brewmaster professor Jon Downing. “By recognizing the high level of continual effort over four semesters both in the classroom, as a volunteer at events and in the brewery, Matthew Shea is a natural first recipient of the award.”

The Bench Brewing Scholarship – of $2,000– will be awarded to three NC Brewmaster students each year for the next five years. It will be awarded to a student in the final term of the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program who exhibits academic excellence, excellent brewing skills, and collaboration and a passion for the industry.

The first recipient of a Bench Brewing Scholarship is Thornhill resident Matthew Shea, a university graduate who followed his dreams to enter the craft brewing industry two years ago by enrolling in NC’s Brewmaster program. Now a recent graduate of the program (June 2017), Shea applauded the support he has received from the craft brew industry as a student and said he was grateful for the Bench Brewing scholarship.

“Financial assistance is greatly beneficial to students,” said Shea. “Students face a lot of pressure and time requirements trying to balance school, work, and family duties, so any assistance is greatly appreciated.”

About Bench Brewing

Currently under construction, Bench Brewing Company is proudly located near Beamsville, Ontario in the Twenty Valley of the Niagara Escarpment. Bench Brewing embraces the local agricultural traditions of the area and is inspired by the Belgian farmhouse-style of brewing. Opening in 2017 in the converted historic Maple Grove Schoolhouse, the site will feature a three-acre hops field, wild ale and barrel fermentation program, tap room and beer garden.

Niagara College celebrates Grand Opening of Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Welland

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on July 28 to mark the official opening of the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Centre at Niagara College’s Welland Campus. Pictured (from left): Andrew McCuaig (grad, research associate, Research & Innovation); Marc Nantel (associate VP, Research & Innovation); Dan Patterson (NC president); John Scott (NC Board of Governors); Charles Sousa (Ontario minister of Finance); Geordie Walker; Norris Walker; Jim Bradley St. Catharines MPP); Jackie Phelan (Walker Industries); Mike Watt (Walker Industries); Daniela Cortes Aristizabal (student, research associate, Research & Innovation).

View time lapse video of Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (construction) here.

Ontario is supporting the development of a highly-skilled workforce and helping businesses in Niagara region access the technology and expertise they need to grow, create jobs and compete in the global marketplace.

On July 28, Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance, joined local companies, Niagara College students and industry leaders at the grand opening of the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Welland.

The new Niagara College-affiliated centre provides students with more than 15,000 square feet of lab space for hands-on applied learning, innovation space for companies to work onsite and office space for Niagara students and industry staff.

The centre will also help Ontario’s small and medium-sized manufacturers save on production costs and reduce production time by providing them access to leading-edge equipment and state-of-the-art research facilities as well as the expertise and business services of faculty and students.

Fostering innovation and growth, and increasing opportunities for the province’s workers, is part of Ontario’s plan to create jobs, grow its economy and help people in their everyday lives.

“By supporting the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, students in the Niagara Region will have access to modern learning spaces and equipment that will help them develop the skills they’ll need for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said  Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development.

“Ontario’s dynamic manufacturing sector is a key component of our diverse economy. The Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre is a shining example of a company that has taken advantage of home grown talent to drive success, while providing custom work for businesses throughout the region,” said Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance. “These investments are among the many significant measures we’ve taken to help the sector grow and compete as we build and nurture the workforce of tomorrow.”

The Walker family and Walker Industries donated $1.2 million to support Niagara College’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre.  The gift from the Walker family is the largest private corporate donation ever made to Niagara College.

The fifth generation Walker family members are the owners of Walker Industries, a Niagara-based company that owns and operates limestone quarries; road construction and paving businesses; an emulsions plant; an integrated waste management system which includes collection, transfer, recycling, composting, biosolids management, landfill gas utilization and waste disposal; and a residential and commercial development division.

“As a family and a business that has had strong roots in the region for 130 years, we are proud to invest in Niagara College’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre,” said Geordie Walker, company shareholder, Walker Industries. “The ability to innovate is key to future economic prosperity. We see our gift as a way to support other local industries to innovate, prosper, and contribute to the continued growth of the Niagara economy, while providing students with work experiences that will make them the innovators of the future.”

“It’s an exciting day for Niagara College as we formally recognize how the province of Ontario’s investment and the donation from the Walker family has made it possible to provide manufacturers with increased access to leading-edge facilities, equipment, technical expertise, training and services, while increasing training and employment opportunities for our students,” said NC president Dan Patterson.


QUICK FACTS (Ontario Ministry of Finance)

*  Ontario invested $4.2 million for Niagara College’s new Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre.

*  Manufacturing real GDP in Ontario has risen for three consecutive years, while employment in the sector increased by more than 6,000 in 2016 and continues to advance in 2017.

*  Over the past three years, Ontario’s economy has grown faster than Canada’s and that of all G7 countries, supported by the government’s strategic investments. Manufacturing, exports and business investments are increasing and the unemployment rate continues to decline.


Construction Begins on New Manufacturing Innovation Centre