New plan, new building, same goals.
BCIT’s latest proposed capital plan, titled BCIT Renew, could lead to the construction of a brand new Health Sciences Centre for Advanced Simulation (HSCAS) on the Burnaby campus as early as July 2016.
The plan was submitted last spring and outlines the institution’s investment priorities for the next five years, according to Lorcan O’Melinn, BCIT’s Vice President of Finance.
O’Melinn told The Link that renovations to aging campus infrastructure were highlighted as first priority, while the relocation of heavy equipment transportation programs from the Great Northern Way campus rounded out the top two.
However, O’Melinn said it is the third project that is generating some excitement.
O’Melinn explained that recommendations are included in the capital plan based on project necessity, financial feasibility, and helping students meet industry expectations. The HSCAS project appears to fit all of these requirements.
“We listen to what industry [needs] and these are the types of facilities we need to be operating out of,” said O’Melinn. “We do this so that graduates can hop into an actual (workplace) environment and say ‘Hey, this is somewhat familiar.’”
The proposed simulation technology includes full-scale simulation models, advanced X-ray labs, and new ultrasound imaging equipment, according to Dean of Health Sciences Bill Dow.
This kind of hands-on education is what would allow students to smoothly transition from classroom to workplace, which is one of BCIT’s main priorities according to Dow.
“Simulation allows one to practice many times and to fail many times – truly a wonderful (and safe) learning environment,” explained Dow in an interview with The Link. “Without simulation, students would need to somehow gather the experiences within the busy health system and try not to find themselves standing against the wall, not allowed to do much more than observe.”
Dow said the plan itself suggests that the four-storey, 100,000 square-foot centre would come as a vast improvement to the School of Health Sciences’ operating space, which is currently scattered throughout various buildings on campus, dividing the student body.
“The real world works in teams and it is important we organize ourselves, at least to some degree, in a similar fashion,” Dow pointed out. “This is referred to as Inter-Professional Education (IPE) and represents an important education theme for the School of Health.”
Furthermore, O’Melinn stated that BCIT’s financial committee welcomes the concept of the HSCAS, as the new building would save the institution approximately $75 million in deferred maintenance costs.
“Rather than going in and changing all the (existing) systems and repairing them, you can replace them when you get new buildings or new wings and it becomes more economical,” said O’Melinn. “You get more bang for your buck.”
Lastly, Dow emphasized the edge that an education provided by the HSCAS would give BCIT Health Science graduates over graduates from other institutions, with zero increase in tuition costs:
“Our students would enter their clinical rotations prepared and they would gain experience much faster,” explained Dow. “Upon graduation, they would be highly sought after as they would have a high level of technical and clinical capability which allows for immediate entry into the work environment.”
Which, according to both O’Melinn and Dow, is something to get excited about.