With Laurentian University's complement of engineering students growing from 100 to 700 over the past decade, things have gotten cramped.
But the university announced at a Sept. 23 press conference that shovels will be going in the ground in the near future on a $60.7 million brand-new Research, Innovation and Engineering Building.
They're receiving $21.1 million from the federal government and $6.3 million from the provincial government to fund the project — so a total of $27.3 million.
Fourth-year Laurentian mechanical engineering student Stephane Labine said he's excited about what this means for future students.
He won't get to enjoy it himself, as he's graduating in the spring, and the building is slated for completion by March 2018.
“Right now we're doing all this great stuff, and have these labs that are pretty outdated compared to the other universities,” Labine said.
“So when you look at the bigger picture, in the years coming, with all the students are going to be coming, they're going to have these new labs, all this cool stuff they're going to be able to do.
“So it's really going to change the lives of the kids coming to the school and the master's students and PhD students.”
The 47,000 square foot building, which is going up between the Fraser and Parker buildings, will also play host to researchers from all seven of Laurentian's faculties.
The Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT) will be partnering with Laurentian researchers to make sure this research makes its way from academia to being applied in the real world.
“This puts them on the map,” said Don Duval, CEO of NORCAT, adding that the new facility will ultimately lead to job creation.
Laurentian president Dominic Giroux said the new facility will be great for Laurentian. The university is improving its buildings through its Campus Modernization initiative, but more space is needed, he said.
“Today's announcement allows Laurentian University to be even more ambitious on research and innovation, because it will have better space, better equipment to fulfill those aspirations,” Giroux said.
“And for the Bharti School of Engineering, one of our fastest-growing programs, and one of our largest programs, it allows us to be even more ambitious for the future.”
Large funding announcements have become almost routine at Laurentian over the last few months.
Since the end of June, the university has announced $188.4 million in major research awards, new infrastructure investments, or private gifts from philanthropists, Giroux said.
He said to expect another large funding announcement for the Research, Innovation and Engineering Building in October.
“I think it speaks to the momentum of the university for the national scene,” Giroux said.
Politicians from all three levels of government were on hand for the latest announcement.
That includes local MPs Paul Lefebvre and Marc Serré, Sudbury MPP and Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault and Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Deb Matthews.
While joking that Laurentian shouldn't expect money this all the time, Matthews remarked that working with a federal government that has the same goals “is a beautiful thing.”
Serré said having local politicians who are part of the governing party makes a difference.
“Your voices will be heard clearly around the decision table at the federal government, and putting your trust in us as your representatives in government is delivering results,” he said.