What’s in a name? It’s a tough answer. But if one thing is guaranteed, it’s a lot more than a grouping of letters.

For instance, there are numerous colleges and universities across the country offering programs with similar titles. Not all of them, however, can offer the same opportunities. The Ontario Agriculture College (OAC) at the University of Guelph, for example, is a leader in its field.

The same can be said for Sheridan College’s Bachelor of Applied Arts — Animation program and Georgian College’s Canadian Automotive Institute (CAI).

Each of these programs has built a name over the years as being the best in its area of expertise. They’ve done it in similar fashion by offering rich histories, a knack for innovation and by building relationships with industry leaders.

Robert Gordon, Dean of the OAC points to the 130 year history and 30,000 alumni that have given his school the foundation to be so highly touted. But, he says, as important as it is to embrace the programs rich history, it’s key the main focus be on innovation.

“It’s essential we always be thinking several years ahead,” he told Metro. “We try to evolve from an educational perspective and also with how we provide services to our stakeholders. We are never satisfied with where we are.”

One new area the school is exploring is bio-manufacturing, which is the creation of various products — like furniture and car parts — out of plants.

Sheridan’s Bachelor of Applied Arts — Animation program and the CAI strive to be at the forefront of preparing students for new innovations.

 

They do this by building close relationships with industry leaders. By learning where the industry is headed, and they can come up with innovative areas for exploration. It is the job of people like Gordon and Angela Stukator, Associate Dean of Animation at Sheridan, to work with industry leaders to champion new ideas for the future.

“We are constantly integrating new technology into the program,” said Stukator. “We don’t just keep doing the same things. We’re very dynamic. Every year something new is developed.”

For example, the program recently received funding from Toronto animation studio Cuppa Coffee to build a new stop-animation studio. Sheridan also holds strong ties with major animation studios like Dreamworks and Pixar. In fact, representatives from studios all over the world fly in to watch students’ films once a year.

By receiving guidance from major players, the schools are ready to prepare students with the most current and innovative courses possible. The CAI has members from most major auto producers sitting on its board of directors, companies like GM, BMW, Volkswagen and Toyota all help to guide the curriculum, trends and innovations found in the program.

 

Jennifer Sheremeto, marketing specialist at CAI, says the program is critiqued by the industry to ensure it is prepared for the future.

These programs have produced Academy Award winners, leaders in agricultural advancement, and the decision makers behind one of North America’s biggest industries. As Sheremoto explains, “our grads get jobs. They’re in demand.”