Charles E. Fipke Foundation gives $6 Million to establish new research centre at UBC Okanagan

Charles Fipke has given $6 million to establish a new centre of research at UBC Okanagan. (Photo by Margo Yacheshyn)

Charles Fipke has given $6 million to establish a new centre of research at UBC Okanagan. (Photo by Margo Yacheshyn)

Kelowna resident Charles Fipke – a UBC alumnus, geologist and the discoverer of diamonds in Canada’s Far North -- has donated $6 million, through his foundation, to UBC Okanagan for a new centre for innovative research.

The gift announced this morning at UBC Okanagan includes $5 million to establish the Charles Fipke Centre for Innovative Research. Another $1 million will be used to purchase the Charles Fipke LAM-ICPMS – a state-of-the-art mass spectrometer that uses lasers to analyze sample materials.

“Construction of this major new research facility, made possible through the extraordinary support of Charles Fipke, will certainly bring significant benefits to our university and our society,” said UBC President Professor Stephen Toope. “Over the next few years the world will see tremendous growth in UBC Okanagan’s knowledge creation, with outstanding research conducted here to serve the people of British Columbia, Canada, and the world.”

The Fipke Centre will include a leading-edge computer lab, 300-seat theatre, classrooms and lecture theatres of varying sizes, and both wet and dry labs.

“A key priority for UBC Okanagan is to create an intimate learning community rich in innovative, cross-faculty approaches to teaching and research,” said Doug Owram, UBC Okanagan Deputy Vice Chancellor. “The facilities that will form the Fipke Centre have been designed with these principles in mind to maximize student-faculty interaction and support learning with state-of-the-art technology.”

The Charles Fipke LAM-ICPMS will place UBC Okanagan at the forefront of research in Canada, enabling researchers to rapidly and accurately analyze the composition of substances, Owram noted.

“The Fipke Centre will enable generations of students and researchers to explore the world’s great academic questions,” he added.

Site preparation is underway for the Fipke Centre’s 6,500 sq. m. (68,000 sq. ft.) building. Construction is expected to be completed in early 2008.

About Charles Fipke

Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Charles Fipke grew up in Alberta and the Okanagan before attending the University of British Columbia. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Geology in 1970.

In 1977, he founded CF Mineral Research, which is amongst the leading heavy mineral and diamond exploration research laboratories in the world. He received an honorary doctorate from Okanagan University College in 1998.

Charles Fipke’s passion for exploration led him to the spectacular discovery of the first diamond pipe in North America in 1988, where the Ekati Diamond mine was established.

While maintaining a home in the Kelowna, Charles divides his time between the Okanagan and his field work around the world.

About the Charles Fipke Centre for Innovative Research

While this structure will wrap around the current Science building, it will accommodate programs from several faculties, making this a true interdisciplinary centre.  Classrooms and lecture theatres of varying sizes and both wet and dry labs will be interspersed throughout this facility.

A leading-edge computer lab will support students in pursuing their research at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.  Quiet study space has been integrated next to faculty offices to ensure students and faculty are able to share knowledge and ideas.

A 300-seat theatre will accommodate presentations from UBC Okanagan’s new performing arts program, as well as public speakers and video screenings open to community members.

About the Charles Fipke LAM-ICPMS

Housed in one of the state of the art research labs will be the Charles Fipke Laser-Ablation Microprobe Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (LAM-ICPMS) system that will allow the study of matter using the most innovative technology available.

With only a few LAM-ICPMS systems in operation across the country, this apparatus will place UBC Okanagan at the forefront of research in Canada, enabling researchers at UBC Okanagan to rapidly and accurately analyze the composition of substances, as well as measure the relative concentrations of each element within a sample.

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