Carnegie College's million-dollar windfall to fuel renewables work

2nd April 2010 at 01:00
Scots-born Canadian philanthropist's donation will pay for a new engineering and energy centre

In what is thought to be one of the largest windfalls ever for a Scottish further education college, a wealthy Scots-born Canadian mining entrepreneur has donated $1 million CDN to Carnegie College in Dunfermline.

Robert Buchan is following in the footsteps of the college's founding benefactor, Andrew Carnegie, who endowed it with 13,000 in 1899 - coincidentally, worth 1 million in today's money.

Principal Bill McIntosh said staff at the college were "overwhelmed by this hugely generous donation".

The cash will be used to establish a centre for the engineering and renewables sectors on the college's Rosyth campus. It will be named the Whitlock Energy Collaboration Centre, in honour of local businessman Colin Whitlock, whom Mr Buchan describes as his "mentor and motivator."

Mr Whitlock was a leading businessman in the Fife area when Aberdeen-born Mr Buchan was growing up in Rosyth, and he was a member of the then Lauder College board - as Carnegie was formerly known - for more than 15 years. "I cannot tell you the joy this announcement gives me," Mr Whitlock said.

Mr Buchan, a graduate of Heriot-Watt University, has a long philanthropic record. Having founded Kinross Gold and built it into the third-largest primary gold producer in North America, along with other business ventures, he made the largest single donation to mining education in Canadian history with a $10 million CDN gift to Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

Professor McIntosh said the donation for his college was particularly welcome since, "given current funding models and the tightening of the public purse, we need to be ever more innovative in raising funds to meet our future aspirations and that of the local economy."

The donation will give Carnegie a cutting edge in its aim to be a leading player in training for the renewable energy sector.

Overall, engineering accounts for almost one-third of all learning at the college. It has forged links with Scottish amp; Southern Energy, Semens and the sector skills council for energy, EUSkills, to develop the first bespoke range of modern apprenticeship technician programmes for on- and off-shore wind.

The college hopes to have the first wind energy technicians course established by September.

It wants to place the new Whitlock Centre at the hub of the engineering campus, providing up to 1,000 square metres for the renewables sector that will include a demonstration lab and exhibition area.

James Brown, head of renewables for EUSkills, stated: "This is a fantastic development that could not have come at a better time, with employers across the sector identifying a need for high-quality training to support the development of the renewable energy industries."

A recent report, Growing Fife's Future - The Renewable Energy Opportunity, indicated that companies in the area plan to invest nearly 400 million in renewable energy projects between now and 2013.

neil.munro@tes.co.uk.

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