Labs at the University of Ottawa are about to become super-powered.
The university broke ground on a new state-of-the-art Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) complex on Dec. 13.
The new complex will house open-concept “super labs,” 3D-printing Makerspaces, an Entrepreneurship Hub and multidisciplinary spaces.
According to the university, the aim of the STEM complex is to help inspire innovation as a core uOttawa value by creating an environment and culture for innovation and the collision of ideas – which the university called key ingredients in the quest for excellence, the advancement of knowledge and a resilient economy.
The building will replace MacDonald Hall and the CUBE, at Louis Pasture Drive, as part of the university’s main campus downtown.
A $115 million project, the university said this new structure is meant to become the core of its own discovery district on the main campus.
The university will split the cost of the building thanks to a federal government grant of $51.5 million and provincial funding of $6.4 million.
Mona Nemer, vice-president of research at the university, said the STEM complex will complement uOttawa’s existing Advanced Research Complex, which focuses on photonics and geoscience research. Nemer added that the new build helps the university get closer to its goal of becoming one of Canada’s top five research-intensive universities.
“This fantastic, once-in-a-generation opportunity is something we’ve been hoping to do for years,” Nemer said. “The STEM complex will defy the conventional by taking a multi-sector approach to research, breaking down silos and delivering new synergies. It will inspire innovative start-ups and drive the transfer of new technologies, promoting the translation of uOttawa research into socio-economic benefits.”
The university’s president, Jacques Frémont said the complex will be a unique space for students from all faculties to collaborate, adding he thinks it could very well create a cross-pollination of ideas and research breakthroughs. Frémont also thanked his predecessor, Allan Rock, for helping make the new complex possible.
The STEM complex will include:
• Discovery labs that expand on the latest digital infrastructure and state of the art equipment at uOttawa’s Richard L’Abbé Makerspace, encouraging students from all fields of study, including health sciences, arts and humanities, to join the “invent-build-play” movement.
• An open-concept Entrepreneurship Hub, aimed at helping multi-disciplinary start-ups launch new products by providing expertise on regulatory issues, patenting and advice on accessing venture capital.
• The STEM complex will consolidate several departments from the faculties of Science and Engineering under the same roof. It will also house the Brunsfield Centre, a dedicated space that allows students to build and test complex prototypes.
The university’s vice-president of resources Marc Joyal said that replacing the aging MacDonald Hall, built in the mid-1960s, and the CUBE, built in the mid-1950s as a temporary structure, with the new complex will benefit the entire university community and help attract the brightest minds to come to Ottawa.