A key facility for knowledge creation in the Okanagan has gone from blueprint to a bricks-and-mortar reality, as the new $68-million Engineering, Management and Education Complex nears completion at UBC’s Okanagan campus.
On Thursday, more than a dozen members of the Innovation Okanagan Network (ION) toured the four-storey, 14,500 sq. m. building, which will be ready for occupancy later this summer. The facility will house offices for the School of Engineering, Faculty of Management, and Faculty of Education, and a variety of classrooms, laboratories, social spaces and student services.
An idea-exchange group representing a cross-section of business, government and academic communities, ION pressed for the creation of an engineering program at UBC’s Okanagan campus. When UBC opened its campus in Kelowna in 2005, it featured a new School of Engineering and Faculty of Management -- but neither of the faculties had permanent homes. That will change when the new complex opens this summer.
Spiro Yannacopoulos, Director of the School of Engineering, led the tour with fellow ION members from the Okanagan Regional Innovation Council (ORIC), Okanagan Science and Technology Education Council (OSTEC), university professors and industry experts in the region.
“It is a great pleasure to show this remarkable new complex to the Innovation Okanagan Network,” said Yannacopoulos. “ION has been behind us every step of the way as we established the School of Engineering over the past six years, including getting full accreditation for all of our programs by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB).
"We are very excited about the future of engineering research and education that this new facility will enable," he said. "We have achieved a great deal already, and our future achievements will not be possible without the support and advocacy that ION is providing.”
Last year, School of Engineering researchers averaged $279,109 each in funding awards, bringing the total funds raised to $14 million.
Jack Van der Star, secretary and founding member of ION, notes that the organization is volunteer-based and unincorporated, and it doesn’t have a bank account. But it is an important player in pursuing and sparking initiatives that benefit Okanagan industries.
“We pride ourselves on being effective at creating positive change at the blueprint level,” says Van der Star. “We are very much about leveraging the Engineering and Management Schools as tools for clean economic development for the region and beyond.”
Faculty and staff will begin moving into the Engineering, Management and Education Complex this summer. An official opening ceremony will be held later this year or in early 2012.