Ciena helping Algonquin IT students get up to speed on latest networking tech

Ciena lab
Dr. Wahab Almuhtadi, a professor at Algonquin's School of Advanced Technology, works on some of the new Ciena platforms at the school's Optophotonics Lab. Photo courtesy Algonquin College

One of the region’s largest tech employers is outfitting a cutting-edge training lab at Algonquin College with the latest in high-speed networking equipment in a bid to give future IT grads the most up-to-date hands-on learning tools.

During a virtual announcement on Monday, global network connectivity giant Ciena said it’s installing its 6500 Packet-Optical and Waveserver platforms ​– the same technology that helps power internet traffic for high-profile service providers such as Bell and Telus ​– at Algonquin’s Optophotonics Lab. 

“This will ensure our current and future learners have access to the latest and greatest technology – and position them to find employment and long-term career success in the tech sector,” Algonquin president and CEO Claude Brulé said in a statement.

Ciena has been collaborating with the college for nearly a decade to help train students in the optical systems and sensors stream of Algonquin’s Bachelor of Information Technology program, a joint four-year degree it offers in partnership with Carleton University.

In addition to providing lab equipment, Ciena offers input into the program’s curriculum and provides feedback on courses to help ensure they’re tailored to industry needs.

'A leg up in finding a career'

Ciena already has more than 120 Algonquin alumni on its payroll and says the new upgrades at the Optophotonics Lab will help make the next generation of graduates even more job-ready.

“We wanted to make sure that the lab is current and as up to date with the state-of-the-art equipment that our customers and our lab directors and engineers require,” Rod Wilson, the company’s chief technologist of external research networks, said during Monday’s event, adding the lab offers students “real-world experience that gives them a leg up in finding a career.”

Algonquin officials would not disclose financial details of Ciena’s latest contribution, but said the company would provide technical support for the new technology as part of the arrangement. 

Based in Maryland, Ciena is one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of fibre-optic telecommunications equipment. The company has more than 1,800 employees in the National Capital Region and operates a 425,000-square-foot campus in Kanata North, where it spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on R&D.  

From the archives