Construction of Engineering 7 building approved

The University of Waterloo Board of Governors approved construction of the proposed Engineering 7 (E7) building, Oct. 28. The project will cost around $88 million, with construction set to begin in the fall of 2015.

The 230,000 square-foot, seven-storey building aims at guiding the engineering faculty’s continuing efforts to improve the way education is delivered to their students. E7 will house the Engineering Ideas Clinic, which is an undergraduate education program where students will be able to integrate classroom concepts and hands-on learning through designing, creating, and testing various projects.

When asked whether or not there is a disproportional bias towards the engineering faculty Pearl Sullivan, dean of the faculty of engineering, said the university “only bears” 10 per cent of the building costs, while the faculty of engineering expects to pay the balance through fundraisers and other sources.

“E7 is not just a building, the entire design will enable engineering to take our unique educational experience to the next level and realize our vision for educating the engineers of the future,” Sullivan said in a press release.  

She cited the construction of other buildings on campus as proof that there is no disproportionate investment bias towards the faculty of engineering.

“Work is currently underway at the new Science Teaching Complex. Last December the university announced the purchase of the five East Campus buildings, and the university also acquired new space for the Velocity Foundry, which opened in September,” Sullivan said.

The building will also house the expansion of the mechatronics engineering program and the newly-launched biomedical engineering program, allowing the engineering faculty to enlarge their enrolment by 1,500 undergraduate and 500 graduate students to address the growing demand.

“In the past decade, engineering undergraduate enrolment has grown more than 44 per cent and graduate enrolment has grown by 51 per cent,” Sullivan said.

Similarly, Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo, said in a press release, “Nearly 8,500 undergraduate engineering students will engage in experiential education opportunities in E7, which will also provide space for faculty and graduate students to engage in a research portfolio of disruptive technologies.”

The majority (85 per cent) of E7 will be used for teaching purposes as it’s designed to contain seven lecture halls, four tutorial rooms, and student study spaces. It will also contain entrepreneurial support areas, an atrium, a student machine shop, 13 garages for building Capstone Design projects, and bridges that connect the building to E6 and E5.

Sullivan added that the addition of E7 would not only help expand enrolment capacity and alleviate the need for more classrooms on campus, but also address the growing shortage and demand for engineers across the country.

“Canadian demand for engineers is increasing. A study commissioned by Engineers Canada in 2013, the Engineering Labour Market in Canada Projections to 2020, noted that this country faces an acute shortage of engineers over the next decade, fuelled by some 95,000 retirements expected by 2020,” Sullivan said. “Waterloo is poised to meet this challenge with the building of E7 and the continued focus on the engineers of tomorrow.”

The Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre will also be calling E7 their new home as it features world-class research facilities including a 3-D printing laboratory and an indoor testing arena for robotic vehicles.