Update: Schulich Engineering building expansion

By Sean Sullivan

This story is an update to a previous story about the Schulich expansion.

There are a large number of clubs and teams among the students at the Schulich School of Engineering, including Formula Society of Automotive Engineers Student Racing, the Solar Car Team, the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race team, Engineers Without Borders and the new electric-motorcycle racing group Team Zeus.

Most groups are either scattered around the engineering building or around campus, forcing them to deal with rooms that many clubs feel are too small to meet their needs. The Schulich Engineering expansion and renewal — a $158 million construction project expected to be completed by 2016 — plans to correct this problem by bringing these groups together around the main machine shop with access to the loading dock.

This machine shop houses all the large manufacturing equipment engineering students need to build their projects.

“Right now, all the clubs are scrounging around trying to find places where they can meet, where they can build projects and where they can build on ideas,” Engineering Students’ Society president Stephanie Hlousek said. “What I like about the new concept is that it accommodates that. It tries to give more space just for students.”

According to Schulich School of Engineering dean Guy Gendron, the move will come as part of the expansion’s goal to promote collaborative learning among engineering students and the clubs and teams they belong to.

“That is a big part of improving the experience of our undergraduate students,” Gendron said.

The expanded engineering building aims to improve student work space by creating bookable workrooms and casual social spaces located close to the club space and machine shop. There will also be space to display past and ongoing projects, including a display booth at the north entrance of the building large enough to accommodate one of the school’s solar cars.

Part of designing the Schulich expansion involved learning what students expected from the new building and determining what would best suit their needs.

Senior Campus Planning architect Anne Underwood said they’ve done this by including students in the discussion since they began designing the expansion in 2009.

“The university is making an effort, as we work on new buildings, to make sure that the student voice is heard,” Underwood said.

Beyond including the president of the Engineering Students’ Society on the building committee, Hlousek said the architects have frequently consulted the Engineering Students’ Society on ideas and held a town hall last year for student clubs and team representatives.

“They were fantastic about that,” Hlousek said.

Safety was a big factor for the faculty in grouping the engineering clubs and teams around the machine shop. Underwood said that with groups dispersed across the engineering building and campus, the engineering department can’t supervise the projects or offer support, leaving it up to the students to behave appropriately and work safely.

“Obviously, student safety is a high priority here,” Underwood said. “We want people to use [the equipment in the machine shop] but it has to be done safely.”

Underwood said there will be a small machine shop for clubs to use located next to the main machine shop so that there will always be staff nearby to supervise and offer assistance. Clubs and teams will have access to more space and to better tools and equipment.

The university is aiming to complete the new expansion by 2016 for the university’s 50th anniversary.

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