Ontario Tech University: Making an Ethical Impact in a Tech-Focused World

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Ontario Tech students in Nuclear Research Lab © Courtesy of Ontario Tech University

Ontario Tech University: Making an Ethical Impact in a Tech-Focused World

Technology touches every aspect of our lives, and advancing innovations that elevate humanity and protect the planet is more important than ever. Ontario Tech University embodies this ‘tech with a conscience’ ethos, shaping the future by using technology to enhance lives and communities while also challenging the next generation of leaders to embed an ethical mindset in what they learn in school and how they approach their everyday lives.

“For us, it’s not only about the next tech breakthrough,” said Dr. Steven Murphy, President and Vice-Chancellor of Ontario Tech University. “It’s also about understanding the social and ethical implications and applications technology has on humans and the planet.”

Ontario Tech tackles global challenges, such as the reduction of carbon pollution, by contributing to Canada’s transition to net-zero emissions. The university’s Brilliant Energy Institute supports the mission to generate innovative clean-energy technologies, integrate low-carbon energy into our communities, and address climate resilience across Canada and the world. The university’s researchers and students also collaborate with industry partners on initiatives like Project Arrow, where Ontario Tech was the build partner on Canada’s first zero-emissions electric concept vehicle.

Since opening its doors 20 years ago, Ontario Tech has become a hub for groundbreaking research with real-world applications. From COVID-19 wastewater testing to small modular reactors to studies on hate, bias and extremism, Ontario Tech leads with its values in making a positive impact on society.

“We empower individuals to become responsible tech innovators, and our students, faculty members and researchers are the driving force behind lasting change,” said Dr. Murphy.

Tech With a Conscience: Using Technology For Good

While completing his PhD in Computer Science, Ben Sainsbury developed a Google Cardboard virtual reality (VR) simulator to perform open-heart surgery. He later partnered with Dr. Rajiv Singal, Chief Surgeon at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, to co-found Marion Surgical, a company that uses VR technology to build surgical simulators for rehearsal and training.

Ontario Tech and Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences have also launched the Advancement for Dementia Care Centre, a vital community-based partnership aimed at improving the quality of life of patients and caregivers through innovation in research and the deployment of new technologies to slow the progression of a debilitating disease that touches so many families.

ontario tech university
© Courtesy of Ontario Tech University

Commitment to Sustainability: Leading by Example

Ontario Tech’s commitment to a sustainable future has been cutting-edge since its creation. The university’s north Oshawa campus location sits on one of Canada’s largest geothermal fields, which regulates the temperature of many university buildings year-round, setting a new standard of environmental awareness that continues to this day. The university’s environmentally sustainable features also include a greywater system that redistributes used freshwater from the Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory and roof rainwater harvest to flush toilets, and a solar array that produces 112,000 kilowatts of electricity annually for the university’s campus: enough energy to power 10 homes for an entire year.

“We’ve accomplished so much in the university’s first 20 years as a result of our applied focus and our social responsibility to enhance the well-being of humankind and the planet,” said Dr. Murphy. “We’re proud of our entrepreneurial spirit and the ethical ethos, which positions us well to address society’s biggest challenges.”

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