A tech announcement will be made at SFU Surrey today. (SFU photo)

A tech announcement will be made at SFU Surrey today. (SFU photo)

Surrey universities to receive hundreds of new tech student spaces

Provincial investment will create nearly 3,000 tech-related student spaces across B.C.

SFU Surrey is receiving hundreds of new tech student spaces, the provincial government has announced.

The university will receive 320 undergrad seats and 120 grad level seats at SFU Surrey for its Sustainable Energy Engineering Program, which is part of 2,900 new seats province-wide.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University will receive 40 spaces in a mechatronics and advanced manufacturing-technology diploma.

Advanced Education Skills and Training Minister Melanie Mark, an SFU alumni, made the announcement in Surrey Tuesday morning.

Mark noted the province will invest $4.4 million this year, and that investment is expected to increase to $42 million.

“We’re helping students in British Columbia by improving access to education with thousands more tech spaces that include degree, diploma and certificate programs,” said Mark, noting over 83,000 tech-related job openings are expected to materialize in B.C. in the next decade.

Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark at SFU Surrey on Jan. 16. (Photo submitted)

“Our vibrant tech sector supports good-paying jobs, like computer programmers, engineers and information system analysts. We are investing millions of dollars in the future creators of an innovative, strong and sustainable 21st-century economy.”

The investment will help create new seats for SFU Surrey’s new Sustainable Energy Engineering Program that will focus on “smart cities, clean transportation and sustainable manufacturing,” to be housed in a five-storey, $126-million Bing Thom designed building currently under construction.

At SFU Surrey, there will be an additional 320 undergraduate spaces and 120 graduate spaces by 2021-22, expected to result in 140 additional graduates per year by 2023.

“This is great news for SFU Surrey, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and many other post-secondary institutions,” said SFU Surrey’s executive director Joanne Curry.

“The announcement is even better news for the province’s tech sector,” Curry added. “In addition to providing talent that the sector needs to grow, the funding will attract leading faculty whose research will drive innovation and generate new market opportunities.”

The new seats for SFU, Curry said, “will support the first phase of a long-awaited expansion that, according to a Memorandum of Understanding signed by SFU and the Province in 2006, was intended to double number of SFU Surrey student spaces to 5000 by 2015.

“This initial investment will enable SFU to create 440 undergraduate and graduate student spaces and hire over 20 new faculty” in the Sustainable Energy Engineering Program, she noted.

Curry said the expansion will “enable the creation of a clean-tech cluster alongside the health-tech hub that has emerged within Innovation Boulevard,” and will “produce a new source of highly skilled, home-grown talent that will encourage business growth.”

The Sustainable Energy Engineering Program is the first of three expansion phases planned by SFU, Curry noted.

“The next two will focus on health innovation and creative technologies, both areas of great importance to the community and to the province,” she said. “Further investments will allow more students to graduate with knowledge and skills to support innovative approaches in community health, disease prevention, and mental health and addictions. Companies in all sectors of BC’s economy will be supported with the latest innovations in augmented and virtual reality and by big data. This will generate still more research, start-ups and entrepreneurial approaches.”

See also: ‘Game-changing’ Surrey-born technology tests brain vital signs



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

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