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Why Give | Impact stories

The Irving K. Barber Learning Centre: a space for sharing knowledge

When Laura Fedoruk was seven years old, she started checking out armloads of books at her local public library. The tremendous curiosity fed by the stories and facts in those books continues today.

When the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre opened in her second year at UBC, Laura knew right away she had found a new home. “The day I learned about the official opening I called my mother to tell her,” she says. “I realized that this would be somewhere that I could feel more at home than in my own room, away from the distractions of life with roommates.”

In no time, Laura gained a reputation as the go-to expert on “the best spot to study in, regardless of the season, time of day, mood of the room, noise levels, and access to electrical outlets,” she recounts with a smile.

That expertise was essential when Laura worked at the help desk in the Chapman Learning Commons. From this vantage point, she noted the unique potential of the Library to foster interdisciplinary learning.

“In university, we have such segregated classrooms—by discipline,” Laura reflects. “In the Learning Centre, you get to bring all these things together. It’s a place where you can grapple with the whole concept of what this university could produce.”

Laura’s countless hours of study led to academic excellence. Her senior lab project with two other Engineering Physics students won the prestigious 2010 Roy Nodwell Prize. The team developed a wave powered pressure generator for desalinating water. So promising is this green technology, the project’s faculty sponsor has filed a provisional patent through UBC’s University- Industry Liaison Office.

Her interest in alternative energy endures as Laura pursues a career as a sustainable buildings analyst with an engineering and architectural firm. The work unites her love of buildings with her interest in green energy, a combination that developed during her years working and studying in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

“The Barber Centre provides a space for sharing knowledge, ideas, and, very importantly, potential,” says Laura. “The potential for each one of us to be better tomorrow than we are today.”

Mr. and Mrs. Ike Barber, and Kay and Lloyd Chapman helped make that possible, she adds. “Their generosity helped make my experience at UBC—and those of my peers—an engaging, enlightening journey.