Angelica Lidén, Tim Sides and Juan Giha
Civil Engineering undergrads (L to R) Angelica Lidén, Tim Sides and Juan Giha work alongside researchers at the Benedek Integrated Laboratories in Environmental Engineering.

A quantum leap forward for teaching and learning

Some of the classrooms and learning spaces at McGill today might not be recognizable to graduates from just a decade ago. In large part, this transformation is thanks to generous gifts that have enabled the University to create innovative teaching spaces, research laboratories and even functioning models of financial market trading rooms to better prepare students for the future.

At the Desautels Faculty of Management, the old second-floor library of the Bronfman Building has been completely transformed into the new Business Intelligence Centre, featuring a first-class trading room, with both funding and operational expertise in securities trading and technology generously provided by Desjardins Group.

For Economics student Valeria Safonova, BA’12, the new facility offers more than just pleasant new learning spaces: it creates opportunities to experience what it’s like to work in the fast-paced environment of the financial services industry, helping students learn about investing “not just theoretically, but practically” and offering “the feel of what it’s like to work in a trading room.”

The Alphonse-Desjardins Trading Room opened in March 2012 and is outfitted with computers, financial markets software and equipment from Thompson Reuters and Bloomberg Finance, and large-screen monitors streaming market updates on the walls. That real-world experience is an integral part of Desautels teaching programs – the trading room provides students with the complex analytical tools used in financial services, with students able to check tickers and review up-to-date market information the same way it’s done in trading rooms today.

In Engineering, students and researchers are benefitting from the new Benedek Integrated Laboratories in Environmental Engineering, funded by Dr. Andrew Benedek, BEng’66, DSc’05, a pioneer in the area of water and wastewater treatment, and Dr. Diana Mourato-Benedek, BSc’81, MSc’83, PhD’90, recognized internationally for her own work in the area.

The state-of-the-art facility in the Department of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics on the fifth floor of the Macdonald Engineering Building has significantly expanded the Faculty’s environmental engineering lab space. It features ultra-modern safety, temperature control and ventilation systems, a ‘cleanroom’ for sensitive instruments and equipment, and a special, cold temperature facility to conduct research into techniques that could be employed to clean fragile northern ecosystems damaged by oil or mining operations.

One of the most important innovations of the Benedek Labs is its collaborative structure, with graduate students and professors working in integrated research teams with the Faculty’s undergraduates, providing the younger students with invaluable research experience. The research teams from Engineering, as well as scientists from the Brace Centre for Water Resources Management and the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, are already using the facility to enhance their investigations in a wide range of fields: wastewater management, biosensor technology that detects pollutants and pathogens, greenhouse gas management, research to help mitigate climate change and more.