Big boost for Trottier Building

Big boost for Trottier Building McGill University

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McGill Reporter
December 13, 2001 - Volume 34 Number 07
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Home > McGill Reporter > Volume 34: 2001-2002 > December 13, 2001 > Big boost for Trottier Building

Big boost for Trottier Building

Christmas is coming early for McGill's Faculties of Engineering and Science.

Next week, Quebec government representatives will visit McGill to formally announce that the provincial government will provide up to $7 million towards the construction of the Lorne M. Trottier Building.

The new building will be completed by 2003, at a cost of $17 million. The building will provide high-quality teaching facilities that will benefit the Faculty of Engineering in particular, as it attempts to do its part to meet the surging demand for information technology and engineering professionals across North America.

A McGill engineering graduate himself, Lorne M. Trottier is co-founder of Montreal-based Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd. and president of Matrox Graphics Inc. Fourteen months ago, Trottier announced he was making a personal donation of $5 million towards the costs of constructing the building that will bear his name.

At the time, Trottier pledged to double his gift to $10 million if McGill managed to raise the remaining $7 million required to construct the facilities. That day has come.

"This $7 million announcement is a marvellous advance Christmas present from Quebec," enthuses Dean of Engineering John Gruzleski. "By funding the Trottier Building, the provincial government is really investing in the economic future of Quebec, since we'll be able to educate more of the computer and software engineers our economy so greatly needs."

Building facilities to accommodate more students in these areas is urgent. Currently, McGill is so under-spaced that its Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering requires an 88 percent average for its potential students; a higher average than the 86 percent requested by most medical programs.

That means about 500 students compete for some 85 places in computer engineering every year -- a lot of very good students are turned away. Constructing the Trottier Building, says Gruzleski, "will allow us to double our number of computer engineering and other IT students."

Since teaching will be the Trottier Building's core vocation, the added space will permit McGill to launch degree programs in microelectronics engineering and in software engineering. What's more, the new facilities will allow McGill to expand its popular electrical engineering, computer science and telecommunications programs.

Principal Bernard Shapiro is delighted by the provincial government's gift and hopes it is only the beginning. "I believe Lorne Trottier's [donation] has provided a catalyst for increased cooperation between McGill University and the government of Quebec," he says.

Trottier stresses the Quebec government has much to gain by funding new teaching spaces, since they allow universities like McGill to boost the number of educated workers that can enter the labour force. "The business community has been lobbying the government for this kind of investment for years," he says, adding he was glad to do his part. "McGill has a great tradition of alumni making donations to the University. I felt this was a good thing to do."

In the last 14 months, other private and corporate sources have come forward and donated close to $2.5 million towards the Trottier project, including $1 million from the Krieble Foundation, about $250,000 from Cisco Systems and $500,000 from engineering alumnus Marika Roy.

Gruzleski estimates another $2 to $3 million in donations is still required to equip the Trottier Building with the latest in high-tech gadgetry. "That's why we're still very much in fundraising mode," he says.

Once built, the Trottier Building will also generate extra costs to McGill, since up to 17 new professors and several staffers will be hired to teach and support the increased number of students. "How we'll pay for this new personnel is still an unresolved question," says Gruzleski, adding McGill is negotiating with the provincial government about the issue.

Construction of the Trottier building should commence in March 2002, with completion targeted for May 2003. As for the building's physical location, it will be constructed on the north-east side of the University's downtown campus and will feature six floors of advanced teaching laboratories and interactive learning rooms.

Part of McGill's new TechSquare, the Trottier Building will also house new experimental spaces with teaching and research applications for disciplines including pharmacology, medicine and aerospace science. There'll even be an Internet café for students, says Gruzleski, "which we hope to have open 24/7."

When the new space is finally completed in 2003, Trottier says his goal in donating $10 million will be realized: "My hope is that this building will enable more young people to attend McGill and receive a great education that will open more opportunities for them."

To view architectural plans for the Lorne M. Trottier Building, please consult

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