Amber Hutchinson and her classmates spent their first year of veterinary school at the University of Calgary in trailers turned into makeshift classrooms to do academic and practical work with animals.

All the while, students watched as the new Clinical Skills Building at the Spy Hill Campus was being built within sight.

Yesterday, the new state-of-the-art building opened with the technology capabilities for more than 120 students to learn diagnostic, surgical and professional veterinary skills.

“For us to be able to come into this building now and see all the amazing resources we have available, it’s pretty exciting,” said Hutchinson.

Dr. Alastair Cribb, dean of the faculty of veterinary medicine, said this building allows students to get the on-hands training they need, especially when required to go and work in the field in their fourth year.

“They need to have all those clinical skills down,” said Cribb. “This building is critical to allow that training to occur.”

MLA Doug Horner, minister of Advancement Education and Technology, said this building will also help assist in research for public health involving animals, for example BSE or influenza A (H1N1), also known as swine flu.

“We have to have an understanding of zoonosis and the relationship between animal and human health and how that transcends.”

The building, in which the province invested $65 million, is the first of its kind in Alberta and the first one to be built in the last 20 years in Western Canada.