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Lakehead University ‘overjoyed’ to be partnering with Georgian College

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

Funding for the new $30-million Advanced Technology, Innovation and Research Centre at the Georgian College Barrie campus was announced on Monday. The centre is expected to be open in the fall of 2018.

Funding for the new $30-million Advanced Technology, Innovation and Research Centre at the Georgian College Barrie campus was announced on Monday. The centre is expected to be open in the fall of 2018.

The partnership between Lakehead University Orillia and Georgian College was solidified earlier this week with the announcement of a new research centre in Barrie.

The $30-million Advanced Technology, Innovation and Research Centre received nearly $13 million in funding from the federal and provincial governments Monday, with the City of Barrie and County of Simcoe each chipping in $5 million for the construction. A further $7 million will be financed through Georgian’s Power of Education campaign.

Both schools are excited to see the new home for their future electrical engineering students become a reality.

“We’re overjoyed,” said Frank Cappadocia, associate vice-president of Lakehead Orillia. “We couldn’t be happier.”

“We have taken what we feel is a real, focused approach to help industry in Barrie, Orillia and Simcoe County,” said Kevin Weaver, vice-president of international, workforce development and partnerships at Georgian College.

The joint program offers a bachelor of electrical engineering degree from Lakehead at the same time as an engineering technology advanced diploma. Students will get the “best of both worlds,” Cappadocia said, in the intensive four-year program.

The theoretical and practical engineering education those students require will be doled out on Georgian’s Barrie campus alone. This isn’t a concern for Lakehead, Cappadocia insisted.

“Engineering, as a field of study, requires a lot of infrastructure,” he said. “If we wanted to build our own engineering capacity here at Lakehead Orillia, we have really had to been thinking about that almost since inception, because the kind of investment you need to make around labs, and lab technology, is very high.”

That infrastructure already exists at Lakehead’s Thunder Bay campus, as well as at Georgian’s Barrie campus. A build in Orillia, either at Georgian or Lakehead, wasn’t in the cards.

“It makes sense to build on the current infrastructure and expertise we have in those areas already,” Weaver said. “We offer a good majority of our engineering technology and environmental programming – and the research elements that go with those programs – already at the Barrie campus.”

Both schools also have competent faculty members in their engineering departments. How the new program will be staffed is still being worked out, but Lakehead courses and Georgian courses will be kept separate and taught by faculty members from the respective school.

The partnership with Lakehead is a component, Weaver said, but there are many facets to the building.

“It’s also a space that will enhance the infrastructure we have for existing students, and it’s space that will allow us to build future programming,” he said, “some of which will be just on our own as Georgian, and some of which will be, of course, with Lakehead.”

The new building is set to open in the fall of 2018, which is also when the first students of the joint engineering program are expected to begin. Students will be exposed to courses from both schools in each year of their education. How that mix will look is still being determined, but Cappadocia suggested a 60/40 split one year could be reversed the following year.

More information on the program is available at lakeheadgeorgian.ca.

pbales@postmedia.com

twitter.com/patrickbales 



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