By Mary Chan
Computer science and engineering received a further boost last Thursday as sod was turned for the new Information and Communications Technology building.
Alberta Learning Minister Lyle Oberg was on campus to break ground for the $32.5 million building, which will house computer science, and electrical and computer engineering programs. Oberg said the project will greatly help the U of C.
"ICT is a burgeoning part of the economy," said Oberg. "There’s anticipation that there’s something like 55,000 unfilled ICT positions to date in Canada. So obviously, as post-secondary education, we have to gear towards that, to put out more students for that part of the industry."
The provincial government contributed $23 million to the project, with the U of C and private sector making up the remaining $9.5 million. The building will be seven stories high, connecting Earth Sciences and the Engineering block. It will contain lecture theatres and an "Internet Café" where students can plug in laptops, offices and research labs.
The project will cover a large portion of the middle of campus and the university will try to keep disruption at a minimum for students.
"We are keeping access as long as we can on either side, but unfortunately, with the extent of the site, there is going to be some inconvenience," said Director of Campus Planning Barry Kowalski. "Come the winter, people will have to go inside and this whole area will be blocked off. We’re trying to keep it to the minimum length of time. At the same time, you also have to keep it safe, so you do have to block it off."
The program accompanying the building will eventually house 1,000 student spaces.
Although Students’ Union President Rob South feels this will be a great opportunity for students in the program, he added that the liberal arts are largely ignored.
"The provincial government needs to recognize that as well as expanding into new programs and adding on to universities, they have to reinvest in the core of the universities because, obviously, our core is suffering," he said. "A lot of disciplines, especially the liberal arts, really aren’t getting enough attention or funds, and that is a problem. The provincial government can’t feel that it’s solving any problems by adding a technology-type program."
According to U of C President Dr. Terry White, the university is considering the needs of students in the liberal arts.
"The deans in the various faculties, through their planning and exercises, are looking at what their space needs are and as we look ahead in the next ten or more years, my expectation is that we’ll be building facilities to meet their needs," he said.