In the 21st-century economy, innovative thinking — that is, problem-solving rooted in creativity, collaboration and informed courage — rules the day. Given that we’ve just described the heart of engineering, it won’t come as a surprise that one of Canada’s leading petroleum companies has forged ahead to help build a hub designed to unleash and invigorate such thinking in the next generation of engineers.
In 2013, Canadian Natural Resources Limited announced its largest donation to the University of Calgary. On November 15, 2016, tangible, transformative proof of the significance of their contribution was revealed with the opening of the renovated, expanded and newly named Canadian Natural Resources Limited Engineering Complex.
Steve Laut is president of Canadian Natural Resources Limited and a University of Calgary mechanical engineering alumnus BSc (Eng)’79. He’s watched with pride as construction has progressed on the expansion that adds more than 18,000 square metres of state-of-the art teaching and learning space to the Schulich School of Engineering, adding capacity for 400 more undergraduate and graduate students.
“The new complex makes a great engineering school that much better,” says Laut. “It enhances the learning environment for world-class researchers and for the students to find practical and creative solutions to complex problems. These are solutions that will not only benefit industries like oil and natural gas, but are solutions that can be shared with sectors across Canada and around the world.”
From Canadian Natural’s perspective, philanthropic giving is more important now than ever to ensure the community stays strong and vibrant, says Laut.
“The oil and gas sector may be facing economic challenges but we’ve faced them before and always come back more resilient — and, if you have a highly educated work force, then you have a strong community,” he adds.
University of Calgary president and vice-chancellor Elizabeth Cannon echoes Canadian Natural Resource Limited’s philosophy, which aligns with priorities of Energize: The Campaign for Eyes High, to both unleash potential student experiences, and build and strengthen community connections.
“This significant gift from Canadian Natural Resources Limited represents an exciting new chapter in the Schulich School of Engineering’s evolution as a leader in learning, teaching and research,” says President Cannon. “Coupled with the community support we received from our many generous donors, their gift helps move the University of Calgary toward its Eyes High goals. I want to sincerely thank Canadian Natural Resources Limited and all of our generous donors.”
The Schulich School of Engineering Expansion and Renovation Project, for which the new Canadian Natural Resources Limited Engineering Complex will serve as the hub for teaching and research into a variety of engineering disciplines, is also generously supported by funds from the provincial and federal governments, as well as individual philanthropic gifts.
“We have world-class engineering researchers working to solve some of society’s greatest challenges, and academic leaders helping shape the next generation of engineers, who will all benefit from this new building. This project wouldn’t exist without the overwhelming community support we continue to receive,” says Schulich School of Engineering dean Bill Rosehart. “Our philanthropic community has rallied around us because of their vision and support for the future of engineering education and research.”