The newest edition to the U of O campus has grand opening with speakers, workshops

On Thursday, Sept. 20, the University of Ottawa’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Complex, officially opened its doors. Tours of the new space, virtual reality (VR) demonstrations, talks from STEM experts, and student exhibitions were available to the public.

The open house was attended by Kirsty Duncan, the federal minister of science and sport, Kate Young, member of parliament for London West, Jim Watson, mayor of Ottawa, and Mathieu Fleury, City councillor for ward 12.

Duncan said investments like this are, saying, “the groundwork for making Canada a global leader in scientific excellence.”

The open-concept complex replaces the MacDonald Hall and CUBE buildings, which were demolished after being identified as outdated. The new facilities aim to move the U of O toward its goal of being one of the top five research-intensive universities in Canada. At 29,000 square metres, the building is now the largest on campus.

Inspired by the invent-build-play model, the STEM Complex connects the science and engineering facilities together in interdisciplinary research and experimental learning. The complex cost around $115 million, and was jointly funded by the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, the province of Ontario, and the U of O.

Key features of the building are rooms like the Brunsfield Centre, where students manufacture and test prototypes like high-performance hybrid vehicles. The large-scale projects are then finished in the John McEntyre Team Space.

“We have our Manufacturing Training Centre where students will go and learn about our machine shop,” said fourth-year biomedical and mechanical engineering student, Nikaya Snell. “Once they’ve finished their training there they’re allowed to go into the mixed space, the Brunsfield Centre, where they can work on their own projects under supervision.”

Students can also experiment with 3D scanning, VR creations, and laser cutting in the Richard L’Abbé Makerspace. In the E-HUB students and industry leaders collaborate together in their entrepreneurial goals.

Additional features include STEAM projects from U of O students, labs, shops, an interdisciplinary meeting room, and a lecture hall.

The unveiling served as an opportunity for U of O professors in both the science and engineering faculties to speak on key topics in their fields, including green manufacturing, fluid mechanics, nanofabrication of devices, energy conservation at the nanoscale, and reducing the environmental footprint of pharmaceutical manufacturing.

“We decided that this would be a great opportunity to showcase the incredible research being done at the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering,” said Julie Cormier, liaison and communications officer for the Faculty of Engineering.

U of O president Jacques Frémont hailed the new STEM Complex as a state-of-the-art facility.

“Given that the STEM Complex will nurture interdisciplinary cooperation, the exchange of ideas and research breakthroughs, this facility will help our university secure its position as one of Canada’s top research universities,” he said at the opening. “This strategic investment will benefit the entire university community and attract the brightest minds to our campus.”