August 7, 2019 - In the fall of 2018, Confederation College opened its new Technology, Education and Collaboration (TEC) Hub. This space was specially designed to enhance student learning and assist in growing skilled workers in Northern Ontario.
Construction on the TEC Hub started in 2016 and was built as an extension to the existing McIntrye Building at the Thunder Bay campus. This extension totals 45,000 square feet designed by Stantec Architecture Limited and built by Penn-Co Construction Canada. The cost of the project was 19 million dollars with funding from the Government of Canada through the Strategic Investment Fund, Province of Ontario, Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission and Confederation College.
The TEC Hub is now home to the College’s engineering technology programs and the aerospace manufacturing program. The space was designed to bring together three main clusters: industry skills and sustainable instruction, advanced manufacturing technology and, innovation and incubation. The TEC Hub will impact the region by giving Confederation College the ability to support more students and unlock the future of technology in Northern Ontario. The TEC Hub was designed around collaboration and innovation between students, community partners and regional groups.
The space features a mix of wood and steel beams and an assortment of glass encasements where students and visitors can observe interior installations that are normally hidden such as the inner piping work or the system behind their hydronic heating. Large overhead glass doors allow outsiders to see the action to foster “live learning”. Careful planning allowed for a variety of zones and workshops such as the CNC Automation workshop, Prototyping and Project workshop, Assembly and Sheet Metal workshop, Metrology room, and the Manufacturing Innovation zone. There are also many collaborative spaces in the building with standing desks so students can easily collaborate on projects together. The Hub consulted with Elder Gerry Martin for insights on how to make Indigenous learners feel welcome and comfortable in the space. This was done by celebrating the Indigenous culture through references to the colours of the medicine wheel and circular patterns to represent gathering and collaboration.
The Hub gives students the opportunity for hands-on learning to prepare graduates for the workforce. The space includes leading-edge equipment to connect to meet the growing demand of skilled workers in the region. Equipment for the space is estimated to cost around $5 million which is being added over time as the funds become available. Tbaytel has contributed a $200,000, a multi-year donation to support the renewal of equipment to ensure the equipment in the Hub stays up-to-date. The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund has committed $2 million and will leverage Tbaytel’s donation through matching dollars. Some of the equipment that has been added to the space is a top-end CNC (Computer Numerical Control), top-end prototyping equipment, production grade 3D printers and a variety of makerspace and youth outreach equipment.
The TEC Hub had a successful first year as it was the home to many technology related events for students throughout the year. Some of these events include the Disrupt It competition where computer programming students gained the technical skills they needed to bring their projects to life, and the electrical engineering technology demonstration where the engineering graduating class showcased their culminating projects. The new Technology, Education and Collaboration (TEC) Hub at Confederation College has already had an impact on student learning technics and will continue to assist in training skilled workers in Northern Ontario.
Evelynn Hoffman is the Communications Officer at NPI.
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