|Engineering students use the glass wall as a whiteboard in one of the break-out rooms in the Engineering, Management and Education Building.|
The $68-million Engineering, Management and Education (EME) Building is the largest single academic structure on the North Kelowna campus at 186,000 square feet.
It's so large that it has the unusual combination of four educational divisions: the school of engineering, faculty of education, faculty of management and college of graduate studies.
"This has all the bells and whistles. This would be comparable to the facilities now in Vancouver. We've invested heavily there as well. We really have world-class facilities on both campuses," said Stephen Toope, president and vice-chancellor of UBC, in an interview.
"It really changes the whole dynamic here. I remember a few years ago, I came up before this building was constructed and all of our engineers were sitting in trailers. They had really no lab facilities. Now they have state-of-the-art lab facilities that they can use with students to really train the next generation of leaders for British Columbia."
Engineers will likely be inspired by the building itself since it was built to Gold Seal standards and used as a construction showcase in 2010. It is also a LEED Gold building for its high standards in sustainability, including geothermal heating-cooling and green-roof technology.
B.C. Citizens Services Minister Ben Stewart noted the interaction of students in different faculties was the brainchild of former chancellor Martha Piper, Moura Quayle (UBC Sauder School of Business) and philanthropist Ike Barber, who donated to both campuses.
"He wanted to make sure people didn't have just one discipline. We started with a common first year and that's really how these buildings have developed. It's a very outside-the-box campus. Students are so engaged and enthusiastic. They're finding they can learn way more than just what their interests are," said Stewart.
Fourth-year management student Curtis Tse told the official opening ceremony to laughter: "When I first heard that we were putting business students in the same building as engineering students, I instantly thought, 'Oh God.'"
However, management students have already collaborated with engineering students on an iPhone application to test the ph level of pool water, he noted. "Engineering students created it, and management students get the IP address and try to sell it. Collaboration at its finest."