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Dal’s Faculty of Computer Science celebrates opening of new space

Posted by Amanda Boone on November 1, 2023 in Faculty
Paramount building grand opening (Danny Abriel images).
Paramount building grand opening (Danny Abriel images).

On October 5th, the Faculty of Computer Science celebrated the official opening of their new space in downtown Halifax. The state-of-the-art venue, known as the Paramount site, features seven cutting-edge labs, ample office space, and a spacious collaborative area that now accommodates the faculty’s Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Visualization & Graphics research cluster.

Addressing the need for space

The expansion of the Faculty of Computer Science from 1,800 to more than 2,500 students in just a few short years has the ScaleCS initiative and meticulous strategic planning to thank. The Faculty of Computer Science quickly outgrew the homestead Goldberg building on Dalhousie’s Studley Campus. 

“With limited expansion opportunities on Dalhousie’s Halifax campuses, we explored viable options that would facilitate research and provide convenient access to and from the Studley campus,” the Faculty’s dean, Dr. Andrew Rau-Chaplin explains.”

The Paramount site, a plan that has been years in the making, emerged as the perfect solution, offering modern office and lab spaces with picturesque views of George’s Island, making it a clear choice for the HCI Visualization & Graphics cluster.

A cause for celebration

With more than 100 attendees, the official opening marks an exciting new chapter for the faculty. In the rapidly evolving tech landscape, particularly in Halifax, this space holds the promise of exciting new research and development opportunities.

The opening event provided researchers and graduate students with an opportunity to showcase their research through 16 open demonstrations and several guided lab tours. It gave the HCI, Visualization & Graphics cluster the visibility and recognition to key stakeholders that were all part of bringing their new space to fruition. Some of the demonstrations included Dr. Rita Orji’s Motivational App , as well as Dr. Mayra Barrera Machuca’s Spatial Thinking Gestures, which saw her grad students explaining their exciting research. 

The occasion brought in supporters from across the Dalhousie community, including senior leadership members as well as a generous showing of support from government officials and industry partners.

 The celebration was especially meaningful as it marked the halfway point through the ScaleCS initiative – a substantial government investment aimed at providing support for the expansion and diversification of the Faculty of Computer Science to help meet the demand of the growing IT sector while contributing to the economic growth of the province.

Dr. Rau-Chaplin took a moment during the excitement to express gratitude to all involved. He extended his appreciation to those who contributed to making the space a reality, the investors who made it possible, and the HCI, Visualization & Graphics cluster for embracing the Paramount site as their new home.

Exploring Human-Computer Interaction, Visualization & Graphics

While the cluster is not solely focused on video games and virtual reality, it does have several researchers specializing in these areas. The cluster is also making significant advancements in the realms of persuasive computing, creativity support, and collaborative visual analytics.

Embracing the opportunities that the new space affords, the cluster is enthusiastic about the collaborative workspace it offers for researchers. 

Reflecting on the newly acquired space, Dr. Derek Reilly, the cluster head, shared his thoughts, “the research cluster needs a space to design and prototype new interaction devices, to develop and test mobile and public display systems, and to capture the full range of body motion in games and other virtual experiences. We also need environments that look and feel like real-world settings, not labs, and spaces to engage with the public. The Paramount site provides space for all of this.”