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University of Calgary professor bridges the gap between the academic and corporate worlds with Mitacs-Accelerate
Originally from Norway, he moved to Canada 1964 and completed a Masters of Science and a PhD in Mathematics at the University of Calgary, before joining the Department of Computer Science at the university as a professor.
Dr. Rokne has supervised graduate students through seven current and past Mitacs Accelerate internships so far in partnership with colleague Dr. Reda Alhajj. The research projects have included a database that matches donors with their ideal charity, prototype foreign currency trading software and an internship with a crowdsourcing company. An application is currently being prepared for an internship with a company for a new computer system that tracks the long-term health of spinal surgery patients, so rehabilitation techniques can be improved.
He credits Mitacs for helping connect his research with companies that can gain from it.
“The Mitacs Accelerate program is a huge benefit to professors as it gives us exposure to the outside world and to the challenges that industry is facing. And that’s really very important because we tend to become too isolated and inward-looking if we don’t engage with organizations beyond academia. It has made me reach out more than I would have, and has given me opportunities that I would not have otherwise had.”
Dr. Rokne says his students have received valuable industry exposure and a real-world experience as well.
“By having students doing research with a private company through Mitacs Accelerate, they see the pressures and the problems that our corporate partners face. Interaction with industry gives us a better understanding of what direction our research at the university needs to take as well. There is an all-round benefit.”
“The co-funding works very well too. By having the industry partner contribute 50% of the cost of the internship, it encourages them to take full advantage of the student’s university research knowledge and ensures they are getting the maximum benefits.”
Dr. Rokne said the Mitacs Accelerate program has become part of his long term research strategy at the Department of Computer Science.
“We have a 3 year plan and one key goal we have is to conduct more Mitacs Accelerate internships. We have highlighted the program as providing a very positive contribution to the department and the university looks upon Mitacs very favorably.”
Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and Alberta Innovates for their support of the Accelerate research internship in this story. Across Canada, the Accelerate program also receives support from the Government of British Columbia, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan and Research Manitoba.
Do you have a business challenge that could benefit from a research solution? If so, contact Mitacs today to discuss partnership opportunities: BD@mitacs.ca