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ALUMNI QUARTERLY - winter 2008
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IT leader invests in students' future

Quebec engineer and information technology tycoon Lorne Trottier, BEng'70, MEng'73, has put a spring in the step of the deans of Science and Engineering with a $10-million pledge to build an IT teaching facility at McGill. The new building, to be named after Trottier, will give the University a tremendous edge in educating top-notch IT specialists.


A loyal alumnus who, in his own words, "entered McGill as a full-fledged geek, even before the term was invented," Trottier (pictured below) is co-founder of Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd. and Matrox Graphics Inc., a Montreal-based graphics chip designer and card manufacturer on the leading edge of the computer graphics industry. He is also on the board of Technovision, a consortium of Quebec industries which last year voiced serious alarm over the lack of a qualified workforce to staff the economy's exponentially expanding IT sector. Technovision claims that the supply of university-trained IT professionals is short by 30% in Montreal and that across Canada the shortfall numbers close to 50,000 positions. The national figure could balloon to 500,000 by the year 2010 and the situation is even worse in Europe.

"As president of Matrox," said Trottier, "I realized one of the principal factors limiting our growth was a lack of human resources. In recent years, I served on the Faculty of Engineering advisory board and saw, to my great consternation, the budget cuts and loss of faculty at the same time that the demand for new engineers was rising sharply. When Dean John Gruzleski approached me with this exciting project, I was happy to sign on as a major sponsor."


With the new building, the University will be in a position to increase its enrolment of qualified students in engineering and computer science. At an October press conference announcing Trottier's gift, Principal Bernard Shapiro said the building "is one way McGill is trying to respond to the challenge issued by the provincial government and Canadian industry -- to boost the output of qualified engineers and scientists familiar with the latest developments in information technology."

The increased space will also allow the University to introduce two new degree programs offered jointly by Engineering and Science -- microelectronics engineering and software engineering. According to Trottier, "Well-trained technology professionals are the single most important resource in fuelling our new economy. McGill's new technology hub and engineering degrees will enable more Canadian students to get the training they need in order to pursue exciting and rewarding careers in the burgeoning high-tech field."

"We simply must incorporate the latest developments in information technology within our curriculum," agreed Shapiro. "We owe it to our students and we owe it to our community. That's why the University is grateful and delighted with Lorne Trottier's generous gift and his inspirational gesture to encourage other visionary partners in the private and public sector. This is a red-letter day for all of us."

The Lorne M. Trottier Building will house six floors of teaching laboratories and interactive learning rooms, and its primary focus will be on undergraduate teaching. It will be at the heart of what has been dubbed McGill's "Tech Square," located on the northeast side of the downtown campus and encompassing the Rutherford Physics Building, the Wong Building for Advanced Materials Science and Engineering, and the new facilities to be built for the Montreal Genome Centre and the McGill Bio-Informatics Centre. The Trottier Building's total projected cost is $17 million and the University is committed to raising $7 million in community donations to supplement the Matrox president's pledge.

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