McMaster University’s Faculty of Engineering opens new student centre dedicated to hands-on learning

October 18, 2017

Faculty, students and honoured guests gathered to celebrate the official opening of the new $11-million Gerald Hatch Centre for Engineering Experiential Learning.

Inspired, designed, and managed by undergraduate engineering students, the 28,000-square-foot building is an innovation playground for teams, club, societies and others to collaborate, inspire and learn from one another.

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, boardrooms 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,” said Ishwar 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,” said 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. Mechanical 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.