Red Deer College is ready for the future with four new state-of-the-art centres of learning.
About 250 people toured the Centres for Trades and Technology, Innovation in Manufacturing, Corporate Training and Visual Arts at the official grand opening on Thursday.
Housed in the same building on the east side of the campus, the proximity of the programs is expected to promote collaboration and innovation.
Alberta Minister of Infrastructure Jack Hayden said he looks forward to graduates from the new facility continuing the province’s lead in innovative construction and other trades.
“(Red Deer College) is a college for all Alberta and we as Albertans benefit greatly from the learning that people get here and the skills and talents they take throughout our province,” said Hayden about the $80-million facility known as Phase 1 of the college’s Building Communities Through Learning expansion project.
The province contributed $59 million.
Construction began on the 200,000-square-foot facility in 2006 and has earned a silver designation in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDS).
The roof collects rainwater to be used for flushing toilets. Its many widows provide abundant natural light. Windows into walls show the inner operation of its efficient heating and ventilation systems.
Flexible and adaptable spaces for studying and work areas were created to meet the changing needs in education.
“Trying to predict the future in terms of what programs are going to grow, what programs are going to be there and how students are going to learn is really difficult,” said Jim Madder, executive vice-president of academics at the college.
“When you look around this building, you’ll see lots of spaces that are adaptable. You can change them quickly.”
Trades students are already using the facility, which opened in segments starting last fall. Equipment for the visual arts centre is being moved in.
College president Ron Woodward said the facility is changing the face of learning and has attracted attention from other educational facilities.
“I could not leave RDC on a better note than being able to be part of this today,” said Woodward, who is retiring.
The growth in apprenticeship and technology programs in the new facility, along with growth in other programs by refurbishing existing space, will add a 2,000 more students to the campus over the next five years, he said.
The college has 6,500 full and part-time students and about 13,000 continuing education students.
More programming and equipment will also allow the college to reach out to other Central Alberta communities, for example by partnering with high schools to provide apprenticeship training, he said.
Conceptual planning for the second phase of the expansion, a Centre for Sport and Wellness and a Centre for Health Education, is almost complete.