McMaster University's Hatch Centre "innovation playground" for engineeringClick image to enlarge

McMaster University's Faculty of Engineering has opened a 28,000 sq ft student centre for hands-on learning.

The $11 million "innovation playground" known as the Hatch Centre was designed and is managed by undergraduate engineering students for teams, clubs, societies and others who want to collaborate and learn from one another, says the university in a press release.

Undergraduate students’ contributed $2 million and helped design the three-storey space, which includes a massive bay area for car teams, offices for the McMaster Engineering Society, workspace, board rooms and student support services. Construction started in late 2015.

The building’s namesake, Gerald G. Hatch, the late founder and first president of the global engineering consultancy Hatch, generously donated $2 million toward the project.  As well, several Hatch employees contributed funds with the company matching donations, totalling more than $1 million. Gennum Corporation co-founder Doug & June Barber contributed $1.5 million and former Chairman and CEO of the Timberland Group of Companies Walter G. Booth donated $1 million.  

“We are pleased to celebrate this very significant landmark for our students’ benefit,” says shwar Puri, McMaster's dean of engineering. “The vision for the Hatch Centre unites a sustainable building with augmented programming. Both have been designed to enhance the experiential learning of our students and to inspire them to become engaged citizen scholars who will transform the world.”

 “For nearly 30 years, Hatch has been proud to support McMaster University and the School of Engineering, which provides students with exceptional learning opportunities and practical engineering experience,” adds Kurt Strobele, chairman at Hatch. “The new Hatch Centre represents our continuing commitment to McMaster and its students, as they realize their potential to engineer for a better world.”

Open since September, the Hatch Centre is a hub for the Faculty’s 5,000 undergraduate engineering students to foster hands-on learning and support work being done in the classroom. Diamond Schmitt Architects designed the building.

"The Hatch Centre will greatly enhance the McMaster Engineering undergraduate experience,” said Mike Meier, president of the McMaster Engineering Society. “For the first time in McMaster Engineering's history, students will have a space to house their extracurricular groups, teams and projects. One of the greatest aspects of McMaster Engineering, our unique community and students, will have a home. This centre will undoubtedly help generate effective student leaders for years to come.”

The Hatch Centre will also serve as a ‘living lab’ to study integrated energy systems for urban use. Mechancial engineer Jim Cotton and a multidisciplinary team of researchers will work with undergraduate and graduate students to offer them hands-on experience in energy research. 

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