Humber’s Centre for Technology Innovation – slated for completion this spring – promises “the latest and greatest”

The Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation (CTI) is currently under construction on Humber’s north campus, and according to Scott Valens, the director of Capital Development (a division of Humber College that is responsible for construction and renovation projects on campus), it will provide students with a state of the art facility, fully equipped with the “latest and greatest’ in technological innovation.

The five-storey and nearly 93,000 square foot facility is scheduled for tentative completion by spring 2018. According to Valens, the exterior of the Centre for Technology Innovation was designed with the intention of attracting onlookers into the building. The centre features a prominent slant on its right side, and the exterior walls will be made of glass, giving it a distinctly futuristic look.

“It was important that the CTI be one of the most noticeable buildings on campus and that it illicit a curiosity about it,” Valens said. “We didn’t want to see a boxy building.”

Valens also said that the centre will allocate plenty of space for students to “hang-out.” Every floor will include several tables, chairs, and pods for students and visitors to use at their disposal.

“This building’s really only going to function if it’s got a lot of life in it,” Valens said. “That’s one of the reasons that there’s a lot of student space.”

Valens believes that the technologies available in the Centre for Technology Innovation will immerse students in a unique, cutting-edge learning environment.

“The intent is to equip this place with the latest technology that students can use to go in and experiment and play with,” he said.

“The entire building is seen as, in a way, a sandbox – all the tools, software and equipment that are needed to actually explore something are here.”

The building will not have any classrooms or labs– at least in the traditional sense. Instead, the Centre for Technology Innovation will have rooms called “modules”, which both Humber and Guelph-Humber students will be able to reserve and use to work their projects and assignments.

Every module will come readymade with large power panels and a circular, open-concept cable tray in the ceiling that will let students run power anywhere in the room. They will also include large monitors that will have outside web access to facilitate video conferences.

The centre will also feature rooms called “interactive makerspaces.” These rooms will
come equipped with high-tech machinery such as 3D printers that – while open for everyone to use – will be especially useful for students enrolled in programs like architecture or electromechanical engineering.

Perhaps the most intriguing feature inside the Centre for Technology Innovation will be the digital visualization room. “The intent of the room is to actually work with the latest and greatest in 3D animation and VR,” Valens said. The room will have an entire wall of display screens; ceiling-to-ceiling, edge-to-edge.

According to the Humber College website, the Centre for Technology Innovation will also act as an “outsourced research and development department for manufacturing companies,” who will also use the facility to train their own employees. Valens said that there are a “multiple number” of companies involved – one of which is Magna International, an automotive manufacturing company based in Aurora, Ont.

While the exact cost of the centre has not been made public, Humber College has received multi-million dollar grants from the federal government’s Strategic Investment Fund and the Barrett Family Foundation (a non-profit charity based in Florida), respectively, to help fund the facility.

In a joint media statement with Humber College from January 2016, Robert Barrett, co-founder of the Barrett Family Foundation, said, “Working with Humber is a natural fit. Our organizations have many shared values and we’re both committed to providing students with an education that will lead to meaningful jobs. We fully support Humber’s vision and look forward to enhancing students’ experience and interaction with technology.”