Posted June 11, 2024

Zekelman Industries Commits $1 Million to UWindsor for New Housing Research

Zekelman's Z Modular is taking an integrated approach to development, design and construction of  multi-family housing.

Z Modular, a division of Zekelman Industries, has committed more than $1 million to bolster research and development at the University of Windsor into innovative materials, designs, and support systems for modular housing construction.

UWindsor civil engineering professor Sreekanta Das, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Engineering, has been appointed the Industrial Research Chair of the Zekelman Centre of Modular Innovation and Sustainable Construction. Having already made invaluable contributions to the field, Dr. Das will continue to address critical challenges in the modular housing industry.

With deep-seated roots in southern Ontario, Zekelman Industries is enthusiastic about the burgeoning collaboration with the University of Windsor's Faculty of Engineering, acknowledging the potential for groundbreaking advancements in modular construction.

“This is an important investment in research for the industry and for Zekelman Industries,” said Barry Zekelman, Executive Chairman and CEO. “Traditional construction methods are just about tapped out for further optimization of improved housing, construction speed, and cost control. In our Z Modular company, we’ve piloted and are now expanding an integrated approach to development, design, and construction. Leveraging new processes and technologies will help solve the multi-family housing crisis. Our partnership with the University of Windsor will support continued research for broader opportunities for a better way to build.”

Dr. Das underscores the significance of this partnership in nurturing the Faculty of Engineering's research ecosystem and fostering closer ties with local industry partners. He said the establishment of this industry-sponsored research center is a pivotal milestone for the University of Windsor, signaling its commitment to driving innovation, societal impact, and strengthening ties with local communities.

“For the past eight years, our partnership with Z Modular has driven remarkable progress in cutting-edge modular construction technology,” Dr. Das said. “With the establishment of our new research center, supported generously by Z Modular, we stand on the brink of delivering innovative solutions to the housing challenges facing our region and other areas across Canada.”

Bill Van Heyst, Dean of Engineering at the University of Windsor, called the partnership with Z Modular a groundbreaking event.

"This collaboration is not just a milestone for us, it's a leap towards redefining the future of engineering research, education and practice,” Dr. Van Heyst said. “We are not just hopeful but committed to elevating this partnership to unprecedented levels of innovation and impact."

Shanthi Johnson, UWindsor Vice-President— Research and Innovation, said the announcement shows the university’s commitment to working with industry partners on groundbreaking research.

“The University of Windsor is proud to be at the forefront of this transformative collaboration, reaffirming our commitment to groundbreaking research and this strategic partnership,” said Dr. Johnson. “Together, we are driving innovation to address complex challenges and championing sustainability in construction and housing.”

This expansion signals the onset of a wave of collaborative research initiatives, promising enriched training opportunities for students and facilitating engagement with advocates for affordable housing – a critical solution required to tackle current housing crisis in Ontario and across North America. This initiative will provide training for undergraduate and graduate engineering students at the University of Windsor, arming them with the essential skills demanded by the local construction sector and ultimately aiming to alleviate the housing crisis in Windsor-Essex and beyond.

The University of Windsor's Faculty of Engineering and the Office of Vice-President, Research and Innovation aspire to replicate this model of collaboration with other community partners and industries, propelling Windsor-Essex to the forefront of sustainable construction innovation.

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