Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

September 25, 2000

U of G, provincial government, HP partner to benefit students, future of engineering, computer science

The University of Guelph, Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Ltd. and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) today unveiled the results of a $9.4-million investment in the future of engineering and computer science that will provide students with new state-of-the-art facilities and technology and build on Guelph's unique programs to create a nationally-recognized centre in biological and environmental engineering and advanced computing. The event included the official opening of a 35,000-square-foot addition to the Albert A. Thornbrough Building.

The relationship involving the University, the private sector and government will enable Guelph to triple its undergraduate enrolment and double its graduate enrolment in a range of high-demand, innovative programs in the School of Engineering and Department of Computing and Information Science (CIS).

Under the Access to Opportunities Program (ATOP), MTCU provided $4.7 million to increase enrolment in the School of Engineering and CIS, with the funding to be matched by money from the private sector. The vast majority of the match came from HP Canada, mainly through a range of high-technology equipment and computers. The company is also making a significant donation to Guelph's S@GE program, a unique children's science and engineering camp. MTCU will also provide additional operating support for the increased enrolment.

Members of the University community were involved in the design of the Thornbrough addition, which emphasizes functional space both within and around the building. It will be used by both the School of Engineering and CIS, providing a physical link between the two, and capitalizing on existing and potential synergies to focus on software and engineering and computing systems.

"The University has always been committed to increasing access to engineering and computing science programs while advancing our strategic goals of learner-centredness and research-intensiveness," said University of Guelph president Mordechai Rozanski. "We are extremely pleased that the ATOP program created the opportunity for us to work with MTCU and HP Canada to advance Guelph's vision and goals. We look forward to continuing and expanding this collaboration."

"The Access to Opportunities Program is creating exciting new opportunities for Ontario students," said Dianne Cunningham, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. "This program is helping students acquire skills that are in great demand, and at the same time meeting the needs of the fastest growing sector of the Ontario economy."

HP Canada will provide all the computers and equipment for the new facility. The relationship between U of G and HP Canada is long-standing, starting in the late 1980s when Computing and Communications Services -- which provides centralized computing services for all students, faculty and staff -- acquired an HP 3000 computer system. "Since that time, we have continued a relationship and have common goals in emphasizing the roles and opportunities for women in science and engineering, as well as a commitment to high-quality products and education," said Alastair Summerlee, Provost and vice-president (academic).

HP Canada president and chief executive officer Paul Tsaparis congratulated the University on the major investment it has made in its students under ATOP. "We are thrilled to further our relationship with the University through this program as its provider of technology and to be able to help the University realize the success we are celebrating today."

The ATOP funding, which required a private sector match, allowed Guelph to construct the two-storey Thornbrough addition, which consists of engineering and computing labs, a 100-seat lecture theatre, and new office and faculty space. It also supported significant renovations to the research and development labs in the existing building.

Both HP Canada and the University of Guelph are leaders in encouraging young women to pursue careers in science and engineering. The company is providing funding to the University's S@GE program, a children's camp that promotes science education, particularly among young girls. "We seek out creative alliances that use technology in inventive ways to make a difference in learning," said Tsaparis, "especially ones that encourage girls to pursue careers in science, technology and engineering."

Women also make up about 40 per cent of Guelph's nearly 600 undergraduates in the School of Engineering, twice the average among engineering schools and faculties across Canada. Last year, the University received the first Women-Friendly Engineering School/Faculties Award from the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation. The award was created to mark the 10th anniversary of the fatal shooting of 14 women at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique.

Guelph offers the only biological engineering program in Canada, and its environmental engineering program is one of only three such accredited programs in the country.

"The investment made by MTCU and HP Canada under the ATOP program has provided the engineering students at the University of Guelph with a significantly improved infrastructure as well as state-of-the-art computing and robotics facilities," said Prof. Lambert Otten, director of the School of Engineering.

The new technology will especially benefit the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science in computing, the new bachelor of computing and the master of science in computing, all offered by CIS as well as both the master of science and doctorate degrees in engineering systems and computing in the School of Engineering.

In high-demand engineering programs, the number of undergraduates will increase from about 60 to 180. In CIS, undergraduate enrolment will increase from about 130 to 400 students. Graduate enrolment in both programs will increase from about 30 to 60 students.

"This initiative is an integral part of University strategies to maintain and improve its offerings in the face of increased demand and fast-changing technology," said CIS chair Prof. James Linders.

Melissa Fortin, an environmental engineering graduate student, added: "It is definitely a very exciting time to be an undergraduate engineering student. Thanks to support from the provincial government and Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Ltd. through the ATOP program, a new addition to the Thornbrough building has been built and new computers have been added. Newer computers mean that students will have knowledge of current software programs and will be more competitive in the workforce when they graduate."

Note to editors: Spokespeople will be available from 11:00 a.m.: Mordechai Rozanski, President, University of Guelph Paul Tsaparis, President and CEO, Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Ltd.

For media questions or to arrange an interview, contact Alex Wooley, Communications and Public Affairs, University of Guelph, 519-824-4120, Ext. 3338/6982, or Angela Hislop, Public Relations Manager, HP Canada, at 905-206-3493.

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