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Newly renovated CNRL engineering complex opens on University of Calgary main campus

By Scott Strasser, November 15 2016 —

After a three-year construction period, the Schulich School of Engineering’s new home was unveiled on Nov. 15.

Though large portions of the building have been open since September, the newly-renovated, expanded and renamed Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) Engineering Complex at the University of Calgary officially opened its doors to the public on Tuesday.


The redevelopment cost $174 million in total // Photo by Scott Strasser

Hundreds attended the ceremony, which included speeches from members of the U of C, the Alberta government and CNRL.

U of C president Elizabeth Cannon said the unveiling of the facility was a long time coming.

“It’s transformational for our campus and for the education of future engineers,” Cannon said. “It’s a spectacular building that has not only expanded the footprint of our engineering school — it’s renovated a large portion of it as well. This sets us up perfectly for the future as we educate more engineers and help build a stronger Calgary.”

Renovations began three years ago. The total cost for the redevelopment was around $174 million, with the provincial government committing roughly $147 million towards the project.

“It’s exciting that the timing of the opening of this school is today because we’re going to need engineers to lead Alberta into the new economy of the future,” minister of advanced education Marlin Schmidt said.

The federal government and CNRL also helped fund the project, committing over $19 million from the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund and
$7 million, respectively.

The opening of the new complex comes in the middle of a deep economic recession in Alberta, which has seen thousands of engineers in the province laid off in recent years.

But Schmidt called the new facility a fantastic investment in engineering education and the energy sector in Alberta.


Hundreds attended the official unveiling at a ceremony on Nov. 15 // Photo by Scott Strasser

“Our government — through our jobs plan, through our climate leadership plan — is investing a lot of time, effort and money into diversifying the economy of the province,” he said. “Engineers, with their technical skills, innovative solutions and creative thinking, will be at the forefront of
diversifying the economy of Alberta and leading us to a renewable energy future.”

Some of the building’s notable features include two new 240-seat lecture theatres, an expanded student lounge and capacity for 400 additional engineering students.

The facility also boasts two new floors of research laboratories and a social staircase similar to those in the EEEL building and the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.

“We know students learn a lot better when we can incorporate active learning techniques,” Schulich School of Engineering dean William Rosehart said. “In the past we have not had the space to enable us to be able to bring in that learning technique. There are so many things in this building that are going to have an incredibly positive, direct impact on our students.”

Second-year mechanical engineering student Manpreet Deol was the emcee for the Nov. 15 ceremony.

While she wasn’t at the U of C when the old engineering complex still stood, Deol said having a permanent home for the school will help foster a community for engineering students.

“[This building] really creates that engineering community and spirit that is needed to get through the degree,” she said. “It’s all about fostering that collaboration — whether in the classroom, outside the classroom, in the workrooms or the study spaces. That’s what is essential and what I’m looking forward to in the new building.”

The renovated complex includes approximately 18,300 square metres of new space and 11,100 square metres of renovations to the old complex.

Though the complex is now officially open, renovations will continue into 2017.



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