State-of-the-art labs, collaboration spaces
Laurentian University’s Bharti School of Engineering has a new state-of-the-art home to accommodate its 700 students.
The new Cliff Fielding Research, Innovation and Engineering Building is a 60,000-square-foot architectural jewel equipped with an assortment of bright, spacious labs and spaces for collaboration and learning.
The $30 million addition to Laurentian’s Sudbury campus, built on time and on budget in two years, was made possible by a grant from Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) with sizeable contributions from the Fielding and Perdue families.
The school, which offers undergraduate and graduate programs in Mechanical, Chemical and Mining Engineering, “has grown tremendously in the last 10 years,” said director Dr. Marcus Timusk. “We went from about 100 to 700 students, so we were a victim of our own success, growing but not having the proper space to accommodate our students.”
The building features four capstone innovation labs, a material testing lab, an environmental and soil mechanics lab, a prototype development and machine shop, an integrated software lab, a hydraulics and fluid mechanics lab and a lecture theatre.
The Jim Fielding Innovation and Commercialization Space is designed to foster innovative ideas, develop new products and deliver them to the marketplace.
The Norinne E. Perdue Central Analytical Facility allows faculty and graduate students to train on specialized instruments and expand their horizons with new research collaborations.
The new building also features a Research Centres Collaboration Hub – bringing together innovative minds from across the Laurentian community.
“We never really had the opportunity to live up to the potential of our students in terms of the facilities we could offer,” said Timusk, a mechanical engineer with expertise in fault detection and maintenance of mobile mining equipment. “We have great students, great staff, and now we have a great building.
“We’re really well recognized for the quality of our graduates and this is reflected in the rapid expansion of our co-op program. We also have a reputation for excellence from the success our students have had in national and international competitions.”
The application for funding from the federal government’s SIF program went smoothly as there was no question about the need for a new building to complement the school’s success.
“We asked for much more than we were entitled to and ended up getting more than double what our allocation was supposed to be,” noted Timusk.
Designed by Sudbury architects Yallowega, Belanger and Salach with input from a steering committee of Engineering faculty, the building features several amenities lacking in the school’s previous facilities.
For example, there is a space for hosting events such as science fairs and robotics competitions for high school students, and all of the labs have access to the outside through garage doors, allowing for the entry and exit of equipment and experiments.
Bharti School students competing in the Society of Automotive Engineers’ annual competition for the design of a single-seat, all-terrain sporting vehicle had to remove the wheels from the vehicle and carry it out for testing, said Timusk. Now, they just open the garage door and drive out.
The Jim Fielding Commercialization and Innovation Space is designed to support students from engineering and other disciplines who want to start their own venture,” said Daryl Dominique, innovation and commercialization co-ordinator.
“It’s meant to support innovative thinking and brainstorming. It’s a casual, inviting space with whiteboards, meeting rooms and a maker’s space or workshop with 3D printers, laser cutters and hand tools for prototype development.”
Mining companies and suppliers are invited to inquire about using the labs and other facilities in the building, especially during summer breaks when classes aren’t in session.
Equally welcome is financial support from the mining industry to help equip the labs with additional equipment.
“What you see here is an empty canvas in many of these labs,” said Timusk. “We have a wish list of equipment and we’re always looking for support.”
To date, the school has received gifts from IAMGOLD for a student common room and offices for grad students, while Sudbury-based Hard-Line Solutions and the Bharti family have also partnered with the school.