“The Interaction Lab has landed at the doorstep of Camosun College,” says Dr. Tim Walzak, Director of Camosun Innovates. “It’s truly a world class space and it has exceeded my expectations about how it’s shaping up.”
The Interaction Lab is part of Camosun’s commitment to enhancing Applied Learning, in partnership with Education and Student Experience. The college’s emphasis on Applied Learning helps Camosun meet the needs of students in a way that makes education meaningful. It is integral to bringing skills, knowledge and real-world problem-solving to the classroom experience.
Detailed planning has been underway for months, but over the course of a busy moving week in August, all the heavy equipment and machinery was transferred to the sparkling new lab space. “Our facilities people have done an amazing job in managing this process and delivering an absolutely amazing facility,” says Walzak, who paid tribute to his staff for their successful planning work. “It has been a complete team effort.”
Camosun Innovates uses cutting edge technology such as 3D printers, robotic systems and 3D scanners to allow faculty and students from different disciplines to turn their ideas into reality. With the emphasis on applied learning and research, the college is well positioned as a regional research and development hub that supports a network of local small and medium-sized businesses on the island. “The technology is state of the art but more importantly it’s the people and the interaction,” says Walzak. “It’s exciting to have under one roof students, faculty and our industry partners—all working together on real-world solutions.”
“It’s an incredibly versatile space with the machines that are available and the people who are involved,” says Sean McConkey, who recently joined the Camosun Innovates team as manager of the department’s Technology Access Centre. “With my background in mechanical engineering—it’s like being a kid in a candy store.”
Camosun Innovates staff will move into their new offices on September 22. The Babcock Canada Interaction Lab will officially open its doors with a special ceremony on Tuesday, October 24 as part of the College’s “Innovation Week” at Camosun. Camosun Innovates receives funding from national bodies including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Western Economic Diversification Canada (WED) and Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI). Following the official opening, a series of special events will engage faculty and staff in the new space, highlighting the importance of applied learning that is critical to Camosun’s interdisciplinary vision.
“The improvements to the new lab are just awesome,” says Walzak. “In our old place we were continuously squeezed for space. The Interaction Lab is expansive and organized into some incredible work modules for each of the major installations. There’s dedicated space for scanning, 3-D printing, wet chemistry, student projects and crucially—intermingling and coming up with actionable new ideas.”
The Interaction Lab is designed to engage faculty across disciplines, fostering a collaborative approach to innovation where new ideas can become reality. “We’re looking forward to working with faculty from a variety of different disciplines and backgrounds in the new lab,” says Walzak. “Ideas can truly be out of the box and we hope the lab fosters innovative new ways of thinking, learning and creating for a diverse group of faculty and students. The sky’s really the limit here.”
On December 6, 2016, Babcock Canada announced an investment of $800,000 into Camosun College’s TRADEMark of Excellence campaign to support next generation specialized equipment in the new future-focused Interaction Lab that bears its name.