Federal funding to boost alternative energy infrastructure and training at RDC

By Troy Gillard (Twitter: @Troy_Gillard) and Josh Hall (@Vancan19)
January 20, 2017 - 12:57pm Updated: January 20, 2017 - 2:04pm

Red Deer College is getting a major financial boost from Ottawa to help provide students access new training opportunities in the alternative energy sector.

The college will receive more than $4.75 million for two projects under the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. The college will be matching the funding for a total investment of $9.5 million.

RDC will use the funding to provide training and research opportunities focused on alternative energy production processes through the new Alternative Energy Innovation Lab Project. Students will receive instruction that will help them contribute to a diversified, green economy and promote long-term economic growth in the alternative energy sector. Additional upgrades to the campus through the Green Energy Master Plan will reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent over the next five years.

The projects are expected to generate more than $7 million of direct economic activity for the provincial economy over the next two years.

Red Deer College President Joel Ward says the funding will provide them with tremendous opportunities and save the college a million dollars annually.

"As we consider how to build our alternative energy systems and lab space, we are maximizing the investment to the benefit of student learning and applied research," he said. "Our goal is to integrate these so that students and industry have the ability to learn from live working systems as well as from lab space."

"These infrastructure investments will create good, well-paying jobs that can help the middle class grow and prosper today, while also delivering sustained economic growth for years to come, said Randy Boissonnault, Parliamentary Secretary, Canadian Heritage, who made the announcement during an event at the RDC Arts Centre.. "Through the Strategic Investment Fund, we are strengthening the foundation for building Canada into a global centre for innovation."

The Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund is a time-limited program that will provide up to $2 billion over the next two years to accelerate infrastructure projects at universities and colleges across Canada, according to a released statement.

Marlin Schmidt, provincial Minister for Advanced Education, was also on hand. Asked if this is a logical step towards RDC gaining polytechnic university status, he would only say the government is very well aware of RDC's proposal.

"We're giving it consideration. There's a lot of work ongoing with all universities and collges regarding thir roles and mandates, and we'll have more to say as that work progresses throughout the year," he said.

Ward believes these green initiatives are part of the essence of what a polytechnic university is.

"It is all about new technologies, providing students opportunities to experience that and to invest in it with their academic education. It's an opportunity for community and business and industry to start thinking green, and to start thinking of new ideas and new ways of using technology and coming here to Red Deer College with us being a bit of an incubator for some of that new technology," he said.

"That is in essence a polytechnic unversity, applied learning, applied research, connection to business and industry, opportunity for students, connection to community and and alignment with government priorities."


LOCATED: Micaela Bugle, 17, of Red Deer

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