Westinghouse opens new nuclear engineering hub in Kitchener

Patrick Fragman is the CEO of Westinghouse. He spoke on Tuesday at the grand opening of a new engineering hub in Kitchener. (Cameron Mahler/CBC - image credit)
Patrick Fragman is the CEO of Westinghouse. He spoke on Tuesday at the grand opening of a new engineering hub in Kitchener. (Cameron Mahler/CBC - image credit)

Westinghouse has opened a new engineering hub in Kitchener which aims to support both Canadian-based and international nuclear power projects.

The grand opening and ribbon cutting of the new, 1,200-square-metre facility on Sportsworld Crossing Drive on Tuesday was attended by Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Ontario's Minister of Economic Development Vic Fedeli, and a number of Westinghouse executives.

The company says 50 engineers will work on designing the future of nuclear reactors, including the highly anticipated eVinci microreactors that could prove invaluable to some rural and Indigenous communities.

Westinghouse intends to hire 100 more engineers for this facility by the end of next year — 90 per cent of which are expected to be new graduates.

Kitchener's proximity to post-secondary schools, like the University of Waterloo — Canada's largest engineering school — was a big factor in the decision to make Kitchener their fifth engineering hub, Westinghouse CEO Patrick Fragman said in an interview with CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.

"We are in the knowledge-based business," Fragman said. "People who have the right mindset and the right skills that we can grow and develop in the nuclear industry, for us, is number one."

(From left) David Tanel, vice president of sales for Westinghouse, MPP John Yakabuski, Kitchener mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Tony La Mantia, CEO of the Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation, Luca Oriani, Global Chief Engineering Officer for Westinghouse, MPP Vic Fedeli and Patrick Fragman, CEO of Westinghouse.
(From left) David Tanel, vice president of sales for Westinghouse, MPP John Yakabuski, Kitchener mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Tony La Mantia, CEO of the Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation, Luca Oriani, Global Chief Engineering Officer for Westinghouse, MPP Vic Fedeli and Patrick Fragman, CEO of Westinghouse.

Those in attendance at Tuesday's ribbon cutting included (from left) David Tanel, vice president of sales for Westinghouse, MPP John Yakabuski, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation CEO Tony La Mantia, Westinghouse's global chief engineering officer Luca Oriani, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli and Westinghouse CEO Patrick Fragman. (Cameron Mahler/CBC)

While being Westinghouse's fifth engineering hub, Kitchener is the only one that focuses on the global reach, servicing nuclear projects in Europe, Asia, and South America. The other hubs are in Spain, Italy, and two in the United States, only focusing on projects within those countries.

Fragman said Kitchener also serves as a great location because of its proximity to Ontario-based nuclear plants like Bruce Power in Tiverton and Darlington, overseen by Ontario Power Generation (OPG).

Westinghouse and OPG signed a memorandum of understanding in 2023 which has led OPG to consider using Westinghouse for future nuclear projects in the province.

Fragman said about 8,000 jobs could be created by developing their AP1000 plants in Ontario, just for the Westinghouse scope of activities. Each of these large reactors would also introduce about 55 gigawatts of dispatchable electricity.

Microreactors are also in development at this facility. The eVinci microreactors, which produce about 10 per cent of the electricity as the large AP1000 reactors, would serve as a modular version of a nuclear power plant that could be deployed to rural communities that currently use less reliable or more expensive methods of power generation.

"We have already made an agreement for the first machine…in Saskatchewan," Fragman said.

"It's going to be not only the first small reactor deployed in Canada, but the first small reactor deployed in the Western world."