Tuesday, October 15, 2013

U of C pretends buildings=education

I got an email from U of C recently that said:
"Paving the Path for Tomorrow's Engineers: A major announcement that will transform engineering education at the University of Calgary." .... "Please join us to celebrate this transformative announcement."
What grand plan could they have to finally, belatedly, improve engineering education at the U of C, you ask? Oct. 9 the answer came in my inbox:
"Thank you to everyone who attended our event, “Paving the Path for Tomorrow’s Engineers.”

"Today’s announcement of $142.5 million by the Government of Alberta for the Schulich School of Engineering (SSE) Expansion and Renovation Project is a turning point for SSE and a major milestone for the University of Calgary in its Eyes High goal of becoming a top five research university in Canada. It also transforms engineering education in the province, creates capacity to graduate more highly-skilled engineers to meet industry demand and drives innovation in Alberta and beyond.

"The project will provide more than 18,000 gross square metres of additional space and more than 11,000 gross square metres of renovated space in the engineering complex, enabling SSE to increase its capacity by at least 400 additional undergraduate and graduate students. New and renovated teaching, learning and research spaces will enhance student experience and create exciting research opportunities. Construction will begin immediately and the building will open in 2016, a major milestone to celebrate the university’s 50th anniversary."
That's right. They actually claim that building a few new buildings (thanks Government!) will "transform engineering education".

Yeah, um, I lived through one of those transformations already, when they built the ICT building. It was built between some other buildings and had an enormous construction site, so students had to walk, like, half a kilometer between classes. Then when the building was completed, it was a nicer building than Engineering, sure, but it had not a single drinking fountain, the elevators were slow (albeit cool), and the educational experience was pretty much the same, albeit with more desk space. The university still sucked.

I cynically predicted this when I got the first email. "transform engineering education," huh? "aha," I thought, "so you're building some buildings then?"