Academic research is no longer just the domain of universities in Ontario, as applied research projects are becoming more common in colleges, including Cambrian College in Sudbury.

There were 14 applied research projects at Cambrian this year, and the school hopes to double that number next year.

The college's manager of applied research says research typically involves students partnering with a business to help solve a problem.

"It's the greatest interview you could ever do from an industry perspective … you're solving a problem for that industry," Emile Malvaso said.

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Sudbury-based Provincial Doors tests an industrial door at Cambrian College through its applied research program. (Supplied)

At Sudbury-based company Provincial Doors, Ray Carr is in the midst of building a high-pressure mining door that students from Cambrian College helped him design.

It is similar to a garage door, but it's thicker, with a series of weights on the side that make it open and close.

Carr said his customers told him the existing system was too bulky, so the Cambrian students helped him create a smaller hydraulic system.

"For the students, it was a real learning experience," Carr said. "They could see all the problems we ran into."

Malvaso said college's partnership helps businesses make more money and it helps the school attract students who are looking for real-life experiences.

The companies help pay for the research, but there is no expectation that the students must come up with a positive result, he added.

"From our perspective, [those are the] ethics we have to create … and there's that understanding," Malvaso said.

"If it doesn't work, it doesn't work."

He noted that colleges started conducting applied research projects five years ago, when provincial and federal funding became available.