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UOIT moves ahead with latest expansion

The new Software and Informatics Research Centre at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, the first half of which is set to open next year, is being made to create new study spaces, as well as new mechatronics and electronics labs.

The new Software and Informatics Research Centre at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, the first half of which is set to open next year, is being made to create new study spaces, as well as new mechatronics and electronics labs.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The students have spoken, and UOIT is listening.

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology is taking its first steps to meeting increased demand for space following a student survey that illustrated a lack of available study and research space at the institution’s north campus.

The culmination of planning efforts dating back to 2010, UOIT’s board of governors has approved the go-ahead for the schools new Software and Informatics Research Centre (SIRC).

“We’re driving toward innovation and student satisfaction,” says Craig Elliot, the school’s chief financial officer, explaining the main purpose of the new four-storey building, to be located on the northeast corner of Founders Drive and Conlin Road, is for high-tech labs and study space for students.

The addition of new mechatronics and electronics labs, a new innovation “maker-space” with a 3D printer and other resources, along with new classrooms, will make the new building a one-of-a-kind asset on campus.

While the $33-million addition is the first step in the UOIT and Durham College campus master plan approved last year, it is also the first expansion onto the Windfields Farm properties north of the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre (CRWC).

Taking over the current location of the Founders 3 parking lot, a new lot will be constructed north of the CRWC to accommodate the lost spaces.

Current plans see the first two floors of the building opening in 2017, with the remaining two floors opening dependent on cashflows.

“We have enough money built up in our reserves now to put up the structure and to fill out the first two floors,” Elliot explains.

Since 2010, UOIT has been putting aside portions of capital funds in order to save for the expansion and, based on the current rate, funds will be accumulated in the coming years to have the remaining floors opened by 2020.

However, if the school is approved for a portion of the $18 million to $20 million in strategic innovation funding it applied for from the federal government, those remaining floors could be completed along with the first two floors.

Regardless of the completion date, Elliot says the building is a crucial step for the school’s future.

“It’s planning for the future,” he says.

“Right now, our enrolment would probably suit about two floors, so we’re now going to have space to expand as we grow in the future too.”

Currently, UOIT’s north campus student population sits at about 7,500 students. That number is expected to grow by more than 1,000 students in the next four years.

The new building will be the future home of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, as well as the Office of the Registrar.