Simon Fraser University’s newest campus in Surrey will be a “living lab” for students entering the clean tech industry, says the director of the school’s Sustainable Energy Engineering program.
SFU unveiled the expansion Thursday (April 25) in the new Surrey building, located at 10285 University Dr. It will house the university’s Sustainable Energy Engineering program, which is launching in the fall.
“We’re very much looking at the building through the lens of a living lab for the students in the Sustainable Energy Engineering program,” said program director Kevin Oldknow. “We see it as something that will include several examples of the kinds of systems that the students are studying and then also is a rich source of data and information that they can use in their projects and coursework.”
In addition to supporting “an expanded presence” for the faculty of applied sciences, Oldknow said the building is going to support the SFU Surrey community “more broadly.”
“Students, faculty and staff will all be making use of the building in terms of classroom space available, as well as new spaces and services that are housed in the building,” he said. “It’s a combination of teaching space, of lab space, research space and also administrative space, so it is going to fill a couple of key roles. One of them is going to be to accommodate this expansion of the faculty of applied sciences, which will include launching the new sustainable energy engineering program, but also supporting the programs we have at Surrey already.”
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The building will accommodate 320 full-time undergraduate students and 120 graduate students, Oldknow said.
The Sustainable Energy Engineering program, according to a news release from SFU Thursday (April 25), provides an “interdisciplinary approach to energy engineering by integrating science, environmental and business courses.”
“The programs will prepare students to work in clean technology sectors such as smart cities, clean power generation and sustainable food and water solutions,” the release reads.
According to the release, the tech sector in B.C. is “one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy, generating $31 billion in revenue and employing over 114,000 people.” There are more than 10,500 tech businesses in the province.
Oldknow said there is a “strong need” for a facility like this in Surrey, as well as in the province.
“If we look locally, at the municipal level, we know that Surrey is the fastest growing city in b.C. and we know that there’ a tremendous growth in population of young people that may look to study at SFU in the coming years, so satisfying the local need is just one piece of the puzzle,” Oldknow said.
“If we look at the provincial level, we know that, per capita, currently, we graduate fewer engineers than other provinces in Canada and we do need to kind of step up our game, if you like, in making sure that we’re training enough engineers to meet the province’s needs.”
Nationally and internationally, Oldknow said, the clean tech sector is “a growing sector” and has a “demand for highly trained professionals.”
Danielle Arciaga, a Surrey engineering student, said it’s exciting to be “pioneers” in a new building and program designed for students “who want to make a difference in the sustainability field.”
“It means I can prepare for a career that will allow me to contribute as a green innovator in my own community,” Arciaga said.
According to the release, the project budget was $126 million, with $45 million coming from the Government of Canada’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, $45 million from the Government of B.C. and $26 million from SFU and donors.