An exterior of a building with a sign on it that reads Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation.

For the past five years, The Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation (Barrett CTI) has been inspiring innovation and supporting skills development while promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) outreach with industry and community partners.

The 93,000 sq. ft. facility located at Humber’s North Campus opened its doors in April 2019 to much fanfare among the school and wider community. Now it’s celebrating its fifth anniversary.

Designed to be a powerhouse of technical innovation, the building has become a living lab for mechatronics, automation and advanced manufacturing as students learn alongside representatives from leading companies in mobile technology, sensor technology, robotics, additive manufacturing and collaborative digital technologies. This technology and training prepares students to be leaders in STEM fields.   

“It has been a remarkable and exciting journey for me being part of this amazing building,” said Neal Mohammed, Robert K. Barrett director of The Barrett CTI. “Over the past five years, the Centre has proven to be the ideal environment for providing experiential learning opportunities for students, faculty, industry and community collaborating and innovating together using the latest trends and technology. Students from a wide range of Humber programs continue to have the opportunity to collaborate with The Barrett CTI to gain the knowledge and experience that will give them an employability advantage for the careers of tomorrow.”

Two youth are building a mechanical device.

It’s also home to the Advanced Manufacturing Skills Consortium, a group of nine leading industry partners who work with Humber to train students and employees of Canadian companies.

“The Barrett CTI plays a pivotal role in driving Canadian innovation forward while simultaneously strengthening industry and our communities,” said Gina Antonacci, senior vice-president, Academic at Humber. “The opportunities provided by The Barrett CTI for the past five years have been an investment in the future of Humber students and are preparing them for career success. We’re thrilled to be celebrating this important milestone.”

The Barrett CTI was made possible by a $10 million donation from The Barrett Family Foundation – which at the time was the largest private donation in Humber’s history. Their gift helped catalyze an additional $15.5 million in funding from the Government of Canada through the Post-Secondary Strategic Investment Fund and more than $1.5 million from the Government of Ontario through the College Equipment and Renewal Fund.

The Advanced Manufacturing Skills Consortium also made contributions to help equip and outfit The Barrett CTI.

Bob Barrett is the chairman of Polytainers and founded The Barrett Family Foundation along with his wife, Francine Rouleau-Barrett, and his daughters, Kim and Rebecca. The foundation supports educational, environmental and humanitarian causes as well as health and the arts.

“We've seen firsthand the success of the polytechnic approach to education through our longstanding relationship with Humber and it’s a tremendous feeling knowing we’ve been able to contribute to the remarkable achievements of The Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation as it equips students to excel as leaders in the STEM fields,” said Barrett. “We’re proud of what has been accomplished in the past five years and look forward to the continued success and innovation that lies ahead both at Humber and The Barrett CTI.”

In January 2023, The Barrett Family Foundation demonstrated its continued and longstanding support of Humber by bestowing the largest donation to an Ontario college with a $30 million gift. Combined with their previous donations to Humber’s Unlimited Campaign, The Barrett Family Foundation has given a total of $42 million, making their donation the largest in Canadian college history.    

A portion of that gift was used to help provide students with a rich educational experience by supporting a team of specialized individuals at The Barrett CTI who ensure that the shared vision of The Barrett Family Foundation and Humber is captured in the everyday activities of the building while also fostering and expanding partnerships to bring the latest trends in technology and equipment to the facility.   

Two youth are building a mechanical device.

“The gift from The Barrett Family Foundation provided the support needed to continue the programming we offer and to build new opportunities,” said Mohammed. “Students are at the heart of what we do, and I feel The Barrett CTI is in a better position to equip our students with the right tools and skills to be career ready. It makes me proud to be leading this amazing facility with my incredible team.”

The Barrett CTI is part of Humber's Centres of Innovation (COI) Network that brings together interdisciplinary teams of students, faculty members, community and industry partners to solve complex, real-world problems. They provide an experiential learning environment for Humber students and prepare them to become the innovative and strategic problem-solvers of tomorrow while providing organizations the room to innovate and succeed.

Humber Inspired: A Vision for 2030 involves a process designed to create a new vision for Humber’s future. Humber Inspired builds on the innovative and groundbreaking work already taking place at Humber and big, bold ideas shared by the institution’s community as part of the process. Ahead of the official launch of the new vision, Humber Today will be sharing stories of the inspiring work and achievements happening at Humber every day that will enable us to achieve our new vision.