A new engineering facility at McMaster University is set to go ahead, thanks to a $3 million gift.

Hatch, a Canadian engineering firm headed by McMaster alumnus Gerald Hatch, will pay for a third of the Engineering Centre of Experimental Learning (ExCEL), expected to cost $8.5 million.

"We have worked to make Hatch a model of innovative thinking, and the concept of this centre is entirely consistent with the values that drive our company," Hatch said.

The new 25,000 sq. ft building will be adjacent to the current facility, the J.E. Hodgins Engineering Building in the middle of campus near University Avenue. ExCEL will be essentially a living labratory for students to gain more practical experience.

“Students learn in many ways, and the ExCEL Centre will allow them to build and consolidate their learning through interaction and shared experiences, in a setting that exemplifies McMaster’s commitment to teaching and learning,” said Ishwar Puri, dean of engineering.

Along with lab space, the facility will have group workspaces, design studios, computer labs and space for student clubs like Engineers without Borders and the Solar Car project.

Financial gifts from other donors will help pay for the new facility. Engineering students also voted in a referendum to contribute $2 million in student levies to build ExCEL.

Construction is expected to start in spring 2015, to be completed by July 2016.