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‘The future of education’: Humber College’s Barrett Centre

A new building with new opportunities.



Eli Ridder | Report

New details have been emerging about Humber College’s Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation, a architecturally unique building located on North Campus that opened on April 10 and hailed as “the future of education”.

“Built to inspire innovation, support skills development and promote STEAM outreach, the Barrett CTI officially opened its doors this week, paving the way for students, faculty and industry alike to solve real-world problems,” Humber College said in a statement on its Today page.

“This 93,000-square-foot facility is located at Humber’s North Campus and builds on Humber’s expertise in areas such as automation, robotics, system integration, user experience testing, applied research and work-integrated learning.”

Technology zones, digital media studios, cutting-edge prototyping and maker spaces, open concept gathering spaces and demonstration areas for new products, Humber says.

“Through the Barrett CTI and across the college, we are working to address the skills gap by providing next generation learning in smart and collaborative spaces to prepare students for the workforce of the future,” said Humber president and chief executive Chris Whitaker.

 “With this Centre, we will continue to be a leader in polytechnic education and prepare our students for a rapidly changing workforce,” he continues.

We will also help organizations of all sizes with testing new technologies, conducting applied research, and providing solutions-based thinking to help them be globally competitive,” adds Whitaker.

Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport and Liberal MP for Etobicoke North and Merlilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities were on hand to help celebrate the grand opening of the Barrett CTI on Wednesday of last week.

“Humber is building important relationships. They provide insights into what employers need and what they are looking for…This is the future and it is happening right here,” said Fullerton.

The Progressive Conservative minister has come under fire for her Ontario government’s cuts to post-secondary education, including wiping a large chunk of grants from the Ontario Student Assistance Program and introducing optional student fees. She also cut tuition by 10 per cent.

“If we want to build the future of this community and the future of Canada, we need to invest in innovation and our people,” the Liberal member of parliament said.

“This Centre — artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, virtual reality — students are going to have the cutting-edge skills to be employed and to build Canada.”

While the building contains no traditional classrooms, the space is meant to provide a unique teaching and learning environment to mend the gap between education and real-world experience, Humber says.

The Centre provides a variety of education programs and disciplines under one roof for all students to enhance their skills and creativity in their chosen field. 

The primary funding for the building was a $10 million investment from the Barrett Family Foundation, the largest private donation in the college’s history.

“We started working with Humber in order to help young people in Canada train for the careers of tomorrow though applied, hands-on learning,” said Bob Barrett, the founder of The Barrett Family Foundation and president and CEO, Polytainers.

We are proud to have been the catalyst to bring about this building and the network of partners that Humber has cultivated. We are amazed at how well Humber has gone about realizing the dream we created together.”

Additional funding was provided by the Government of Canada which contributed $15.5 million from the Post-Secondary Strategic Investment Fund.

The Government of Ontario supported the purchase of key equipment within the building through $1.55 million from the College Equipment and Renewal Fund.

Image of the centre from The Avro Post.


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