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UTSC Academic Resource Centre opens new frontiers of research, teaching

arc release
arc release
Photos by Ken Jones
For more photos from this event, please click here

Toronto, ON-- If contact is ever made with outer space, the new $23-million Academic Resource Centre at the University of Toronto at Scarborough (UTSC) might just be the conductor.

Bright as a new penny, the copper-clad 9,000-square-metre facility, also known as the ARC, officially opened today. It features a completely renovated library, improved work and study spaces, the Sun Microsystems Informatics Commons and a 500-seat lecture theatre - the largest of its kind in the Scarborough area - which can be used for musical performances as well as academic lectures.

Thanks to a $1.5-million contribution from Sun Microsystems, the largest single donation in UTSC's history, the facility also contains a cluster of leading-edge grid computers that will allow researchers to connect to high performance computing projects around the world - and beyond. One such project is the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) which, among other things, uses volunteered idle computers to search for signals from advanced technological civilizations in our galaxy.

Academic Resource Centre, UTSC

"This new facility transforms research and learning on the campus, combining information age technologies with the vast resources of the U of T library system," says U of T president Robert Birgeneau. "Students, faculty and researchers will now have access to one of the only supercomputing facilities of its kind in Canada and we couldn't have done it without public and private support."

The grid cluster, which uses large-scale resource sharing, innovative applications and leading-edge technology, will also allow researchers to focus on complex calculations and projects, such as climate models, protein folding, cognitive models in neuroscience, or SETI. In addition to the new research capabilities, the grid computers will power the ARC's digital library and allow students, teachers and researchers to produce multimedia essays, presentations and artwork for submission to faculty or use in the classroom.

The building itself is as impressive as its contents. In a collaborative design process with the UTSC community, award-winning architect Brian MacKay-Lyons, in association with Rounthwaite, Dick and Hadley, has created a series of accessible spaces with light-flooded interiors. Using a simple palate of wood, copper and concrete, ARC was designed and built economically, 15 per cent under budget.

"This is a big day for the campus and the university. The ARC will greatly enrich and enhance the student and faculty experience at UTSC," says interim principal John Youson. "Thanks to Sun Microsystems, we now have an international calibre, state-of-the-art facility for our university community."

Public funding for the ARC was provided by the Government of Ontario, the U of T Enrolment Growth Fund and UTSC. "This project has been a collaborative effort of alumni, faculty and staff, and government for the benefit of our students," says Mary Anne Chambers, minister of training, colleges and universities. "I congratulate everyone involved for making the Academic Resource Centre a reality."

"Young people need education and training to build a secure future," adds David Caplan, minister of public infrastructure renewal. "Ontario is investing in projects like this to make sure students across the province have the opportunity to realize their potential."

The Sun Microsystems contribution includes computer hardware, software and training and will be recognized with the naming of the Sun Microsystems Informatics Commons. "Sun lives and breathes the business of education; we know collaboration between educational institutions, governments and the private sector is key to Canada's future," notes Charles Mair, director of business development, education and research, Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc. "Support of education is an opportunity and responsibility, and our efforts are manifested in ARC where researchers have access to Sun's high performance computing platform and technologies, the engines for innovation at UTSC."

The opening of the ARC coincides with the 31st Annual Watts Lecture, featuring distinguished CBC journalist Joe Schlesinger. His lecture, Winning Wars…Losing Peace, is the inaugural event in the ARC performance and lecture theatre.

About UTSC

Opened in 1964, UTSC provides undergraduate and graduate studies and U of T's only co-op educational programs. Current enrolment is approximately 8,200 students and the campus continues to expand to meet projected increases with a new Management Building and Arts Classroom Building, currently under construction.

About Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc.

Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc., a subsidiary of Sun Microsystems, Inc., is headquartered in Markham, Ont. The company, which employs more than 550 persons, has offices in Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria. Sun products and services are also available through Sun Authorized Independent Sales Organizations and iForce[SM] partners across Canada.For more information, visit

About Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Since its inception in 1982, a singular vision - "The Network Is The Computer™" - has propelled Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) to its position as a leading provider of industrial-strength hardware, software and services that make the Net work. Sun can be found in more than 100 countries and on the World Wide Web at

Sun is a leading provider of open network computing solutions to K-12 education and to colleges and universities around the world, powering academic research and high performance computing systems, campus administration, digital libraries and student information systems.

Mary Alice Thring is the news services officer for capital projects with the department of public affairs.

For more information:

Melissa Joseph, UTSC, ph: (416) 287-7089; email:

Shirley Horvat, Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc., ph: (905) 513-4856; email:

U of T Public Affairs, ph: (416) 946-8369; email:

© University of Toronto Scarborough