Selkirk College has opened a new Applied Research and Innovation Centre near its Castlegar campus.
The centre houses the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program, the Selkirk Geospatial Research Centre (SGRC) and the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute (RDI).
“What we’re trying to do is develop our facility and ability to undertake applied research and innovation within the college and in the community,” said Rhys Andrews, dean of instruction for Applied Research and Innovation.
The reason the college decided to have the GIS, SGRC and RDI share the new centre was partly to facilitate collaboration and partly because of fit.
“The Rural Development Institute and the SGRC … are two of our largest research facilities, and they do a lot of collaborative projects, so they work very closely and being close really helps,” explained Andrews. “And then the GIS students, many of the teachers that teach them are also researchers within the SGRC, so it just made a lot of synergistic sense. But the other reason is that I really see the GIS students as students who do a lot of projects with community, so they’re a really good fit.”
Andrews hopes that members of the community will work with students in the centre to develop projects together.
“We have a lot of hopes and dreams around having students be involved in really meaningful learning activities with members of the community,” he said. “For us, applied research is really about students and faculty engaging with any number of different partners in the community to solve real world problems.”
The centre is located next to the airport, across the highway from the main campus. For students trying to get to the centre from the main campus and back again on foot, crossing the highway could represent a safety risk, as there’s no controlled crossing.
Andrews said the college does what it can to help students get around safely.
“[The highway] is a place that actually we’ve talked to our student about being safe, and we’ve tried to organize car pooling and we’re also trying to get the bus to change their patterns a little bit,” he said.
Andrews invites members of the public to come by and check out the new centre.