> Algonquin College

Providing The Best In Personalized Learning

The name of Algonquin College’s newest building is a testament to innovation. The DARE District – the acronym stands for discovery, applied research and entrepreneurship – is a state-of-the-art structure devoted to providing the best in experiential, personalized learning.

The $45-million structure, which opened in mid-2018, is a multidisciplinary space where students, employees, industry, and the community can engage in a wide range of applied research and entrepreneurial activities.

As a catalyst for cutting-edge learning, the DARE District avoids the traditional classroom. Instead, it provides open spaces – from a new wired library and learning centre and communal kitchens, to numerous labs and research centres with the latest tools and technology. Available to all aspiring discoverers, the spaces are intended to spark creative collisions, conversations, and community encounters that will prompt innovative and marketable products.

Algonquin’s commitment to Indigenous education and the celebration of Indigenous identity is also evident throughout the building. In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, the College made sure that numerous Indigenous elements were incorporated in the structure and design of the DARE District.

This includes an Indigenous Commons known as Nawapon, an outdoor courtyard named Ishkodewan, and a space for Indigenous entrepreneurship called Pìdàban – all Algonquin words that translate respectively as “gathering strength for the journey,” “there is fire,” and “past, present, and future.”

Algonquin College President Claude Brulé describes the three-storey structure as a “re-imagined building” that increases “the representation of Indigenous culture, teachings, and values through the design of its physical space.”

Innovation efforts like this have been a hallmark of Algonquin College’s history since its establishment in 1967. What began as a one-building campus on a farm field has become one of Ontario’s premier polytechnics with about 20,000 full-time learners and nearly 40,000 part-time attendees spread across three campuses in Ottawa, Perth, and Pembroke. Full-time students enjoy access to nearly 200 programs, including apprenticeship, co-op, collaborative degrees, and bachelor’s degree programs.

The Innovation Agenda

The DARE District, located on the Ottawa campus, reflects and extends this legacy, both as a statement of where the College has been but also where it is going.

The future is well demonstrated by the DARE District’s Office of Applied Research, Innovation & Entrepreneurship (ARIE). With its various research centres, ARIE is devoted to everything from construction research and data analytics to environmental science, resource management, and social innovation.

These centres generate innovative ideas, nurture start-up enterprises, and drive leading-edge education within the College and among the wider community:

  • The Data Analytics Centre is the first of its kind in Canada. Drawing on students and faculty, the Centre offers companies collaborative expertise in everything from machine learning to applied data engineering.
  • The Social Innovation Lab provides an opportunity for students to serve the public good. Students in design and engineering disciplines assist social-sector clients in using digital technology to address real-world problems.
  • The MakerSpace is a hands-on technology hub open to all. It offers students, faculty, and external partners assisted access to 3D printers, virtual reality stations, laser engravers, and other technological devices to transform ideas into real things. This openness has fostered numerous college-community collaborations.


- — Claude Brulé, President and CEO, Algonquin College

The Innovation “Classroom”

The DARE District also gives new meaning to the notion of “classroom.” No longer do students sit in a room listening to lectures. Now they are active participants in their own education – personalized, hands-on, student-centred learning:

  • The spacious third-floor Library offers seating to more than 500 learners, along with computers, laptops, and printing services. There are books of course – 35,000 of them – but a huge digital collection accounts for about 70 per cent of the total collection.
  •  The Student Learning Centre on the second floor offers a one-stop shop for services, including 24/7 access to peer tutoring, digital literacy lab workshops for students and staff, an area where students can get help with writing, math, computers, and English-language learning, and a presentation studio with multimedia equipment that learners can use to practise and record course presentations.
  •  The first-floor Employee Learning Exchange provides a single space for employee learning, collaboration, and service. Rather than going from building to building on different issues, employees can get the help they need and take advantage of learning and development opportunities in one location.

Algonquin College

1385, Woodroffe Avenure, Ottawa ON, K2G 1V8

Submit your Innovation Story

Join and network with a global community of innovators  by sharing your success story with the world.



Our promise: we dislike spam as much as the next person, and promise never to break your trust in us. We will never sell data – this is only used for the INNOVATE® Newsletter