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University of Prince Edward Island launches School of Sustainable Design Engineering


University of Prince Edward Island School of Sustainable Design Engineering.  Photo: UPEI.

University of Prince Edward Island School of Sustainable Design Engineering. Photo: UPEI.

Earlier in August the University of Prince Edward Island officially opened its 7,000-sq.m School of Sustainable Design Engineering building.

Until now P.E.I. was the only province in Canada that did not have a full engineering degree program. Diploma students have had to leave the island to finish their degrees.

UPEI’s Sustainable Design Engineering program began accepting students in 2014 and offers studies in bioresources, mechatronics and sustainable energy.

What makes it different is its extensive use of design clinics and experiential learning. As a result, the building has only one traditional classroom. The other learning spaces are design studies, project ideation rooms, labs and a green roof.

Students are also engaged in real-life projects with external clients. In their first two years they work on community problems, and in their third and fourth years they  work on design problems with industry clients. Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, president and vice-chancellor of UPEI, said:  “The possibilities for community and industry relationships on a local, regional, national, and global basis are endless.”

UPEI also says the interdisciplinary nature of the school will provide students with a broad and balanced knowledge base in mathematics, complementary studies, natural sciences and engineering sciences. “This is in sharp contrast to many traditional engineering programs that have become increasing specialized and compartmentalized,” says the university.

The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, called the opening of the school “a major leap forward for research and design capacity in Prince Edward Island.”

UPEI School of Sustainable Design Engineering lounge.  Photo: Architecture49.

UPEI School of Sustainable Design Engineering lounge. Photo: Architecture49.

The Building

Located on the eastern edge of the UPEI campus in Charlottetown, the three-storey building is accessed through a concourse that runs through it in an east-west direction. The interior includes a two-storey-high industrial innovation centre and clinic project bays and lecture rooms on the ground floor, along with fabrication and assembly shops. The second floor has the design studios, a learning common area, clean and dry labs, and the computer/cad/simulations room. There are also administration areas and an industry partner’s boardroom that overlooks the industrial innovation spaces below. Level three largely consists of faculty offices and small group learning spaces. A “Learning Stair” incorporates small group learning spaces.

The building exterior has red brick on its lower level to echo its historic neighbour buildings, and metal and glass finishes above. The concourse that runs the length of the building is clad in copper.

Architecture49 designed the building, with SNC-Lavalin as structural engineers, MCA Consultants as mechanical engineers, Richardson Associates as electrical engineers, and WSP doing civil engineering and landscape architecture.

Costing $26 million, the building was completed on budget and a month ahead of schedule.