SFU Surrey: the future is engaged here – By Ray Hudson

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Designed by BC Architect Bing Thom, the campus is integrated with the Central City Mall with the roof designed to resemble an overturned boat. Many of the classrooms are located in the five floors built above the mall concourse.
Designed by BC Architect Bing Thom, the campus is integrated with the Central City Mall with the roof designed to resemble an overturned boat.  Many of the classrooms are located in the five floors built above the mall concourse.
Designed by BC Architect Bing Thom, the campus is integrated with the Central City Mall with the roof designed to resemble an overturned boat. Many of the classrooms are located in the five floors built above the mall concourse.

Surrey: In part wwo of our report on SFU Surrey, Steven Dooley, the Executive Director of SFU Surrey Campus elaborates on the growth of SFU Surrey and the critical partnerships they’ve developed with the City of Surrey, the Surrey School District, Fraser Health, and numerous public and private projects where the activities of the programs and the students have a direct and on-going positive impact on Surrey and beyond.

“One of our main partners is the City of Surrey,” said Dooley. “We’re co-leading Innovation Boulevard now and we’re a part of the Poverty Reduction Coalition. We just finished a project called “Our Community Our Voice” which studied the needs of the refugees who arrived in Surrey this year. We were able to hire and train nine recent refugees as research assistants showing, with the City of Surrey, that the refugees coming to the city bring skills and assets, which will be a value-added asset in the community. Still with the City of Surrey, we have done a number of research chairs, and we’ve been helping them with a project around Crime Reduction and “Big Data.”

Fraser Health is an important partner with whom SFU Surrey will be convening a public forum on the recent rash of drug overdoses in the city.

“This will probably happen early in September,” said Dooley, “and will create a space for the community to come together to discuss the issue and exchange ideas. Fraser Health will be able to inform the community about the strategy to deal with some of the challenges arising from drug addition and other things going on in the city centre.”

Stephen Dooley, Executive Director of SFU Surrey.
Stephen Dooley, Executive Director of SFU Surrey.

The Executive Director pointed to the university-wide Public Square initiative, described as “more than a place or a program” about “assembling the hearts, minds and talents of diverse communities to promote inclusive, intelligent and inspiring dialogue about issues of public concern.”

“It’s a space where the community can come together and have honest and deep conversation about some of the community’s challenges,” said Dooley. Adding that hopefully, SFU can become the facilitator of community conversation in a forum that is easily accessible to everyone in the community.

“We talk about our students going out into the community,” said Dooley, “but we also bring the community onto our campus. Last year we did over a thousand events where the community comes and takes advantage of our space to have different kinds of forums and conferences.”

Another big partnership is with the Surrey School District where SFU is involved with them around the needs of students transitioning from secondary to post secondary education.

“That’s important,” said Dooley, “because the Surrey School District is the is one of the biggest in BC and our biggest feeder district directly from Secondary school.”

Dooley also cited Kwantlen Polytechnic University as an important partner.

“There are lots of opportunities for us to work with them on issues of mutual interest. We are investigating perhaps using some of the space at their Tech campus in Cloverdale for some of our Engineering programs, so we’re thinking about how we can work together.”

SFU, including the Mechatronics program, is the co-lead in a $36.6 million national Age Well Initiative, which is about developing and using technology-based solutions for seniors to grow and be independent. It’s a national study and the part involving SFU is right here in Surrey.

The Director of SFU’s Gerontology Research Centre, Professor Andrew Sixsmith, said, “The projects underway will put AGE-WELL at the forefront of research and innovation to help seniors remain living independently, as well as open new opportunities for Canadian businesses.”

SFU researchers are leading or collaborating on five of the 25 projects ranging from studies on assistive technologies and mobile robots to the creation of wearable technologies and virtual games. More information is available at www.agewell-nce.ca

Stephen Dooley was asked to look ahead ten years and describe the University.

“SFU Surrey will have built on its community engagement commitments and will have doubled in size in terms of having one or two new buildings,” said Dooley. “We will be integrated even more with the City of Surrey, and the Surrey Campus will have an even stronger international reputation for supporting the needs of students.  We will be a go-to place for Tech, rivaling Silicon Valley and be an example of being that kind of tech-hub especially as it relates to clean technology for the automotive and other industries. We will, with the City of Surrey, have a dynamic reputation for our involvement with the growth that has been experienced and is on-going in this community.”