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Faculty of Applied Science Engineering News

Project and Construction Management at UBC Civil: Transitions by Thomas Froese, Ph.D., P.Eng. and Sheryl Staub-French, Ph.D., P.Eng.

L-R: Professors Sheryl Staub-French, Alan Russell, and Thomas Froese, Project and Construction Management team

The project and construction management (PCM) program within Civil Engineering at UBC is in a period of transition with the retirement of its founding faculty member, Prof. Alan Russell (see story on page 9). Professor Russell, along with PCM professors Thomas Froese and Sheryl Staub-French, has continued to develop the program over recent years. In the undergraduate Civil Engineering curriculum, the core construction management course has moved earlier in the program to 3rd year, has been integrated with project courses in 2nd year and the capstone design course in the 4th year, has introduced community

service learning projects, and a new Building Information Modeling (BIM) course has been created. The project and construction management graduate program continues to see strong demand for the Masters program, with over 350 graduates over the past 20 years. Most students have taken the course-based Masters program (Master of Engineering, MEng) but several have taken the research-based Masters program (Master of Applied Science, MASc). The MASc program is a great fit for students interested in studying a topic in more detail or who might be interested in pursuing PhD research. Recent graduates include: Amir Tangestani (BIM Technology Specialist at Ledcor), Behzad Pilehchian (Senior Civil/Structural Engineer at SNC-Lavalin), Helia Amiri (Project Controller, AMEC), Diego Orozco (Project Coordinator (QA/QC) Field Engineer, FWS Group of Companies, Rio Tinto Alcan — Kitimat Modernization Project), and Rasa Eghbal (thesis focused on optimization of infrastructure management decisions). More than 30 PhD students have also graduated during this time, including recent graduates: Chao-Ying Chiu (Estimator, Fluor Canada Ltd.), Cheryl Nelms (Senior Advisor, Public Works Government Services Canada), Madhav Prasad Nepal (Lecturer, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane), and Ming En Li (Project Controls Specialist, Fluor Canada Ltd.). Sheryl Staub-French now teaches two courses on BIM and continues to be actively engaged with industry in her research on BIM. Most recently, she had two MASc students working on the Pharmaceutical Sciences project at UBC investigating change management (Behzad Pilehchianlan)

Continued on page 6


Welcome to this issue of the civil@ubc newsletter. During the past academic year, the Faculty of Applied Science has seen a successful conclusion to the search for the new Dean, with the appointment of Professor Marc Parlange (see the article below). My colleagues and I are very excited to be welcoming him to the Faculty and our Department. It is with pleasure that I have extended my term as Head of Civil Engineering as per the request of Professor Eric Hall, Dean Pro Tem, for one more year. This fall, Dean Parlange will be commencing the process for the search for a new Head of Civil Engineering. I look forward to a promising final year in my role as Head. As always, ongoing change in the Department has kept things challenging and exciting. We experienced a learning curve with the implementation of the University’s new budget model and administrative structure, but worked together to adapt to this important change. With endowments from the Faculty of Forestry and the School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP), as well as financial contributions from SNC Lavalin, we were also able to create two new interdisciplinary faculty positions resulting in joint appointments with both the

Reza Vaziri, Ph.D., P.Eng. Professor and Head, Department of Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering welcomes the new Dean The Department of Civil Engineering is pleased to welcome the new Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science, Professor Marc Parlange. Dean Parlange officially took the helm of the Faculty on September 1, 2013, for a five year term. He now leads the education of more than 5,000 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students, in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, the School of Community and Regional Planning, the School of Nursing and of course, all Engineering programs on both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. Prior to joining UBC, Professor Parlange served as Dean of the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, where he helped lead the development and expansion of the school by recruiting outstanding faculty, establishing interdisciplinary academic programs, Marc Parlange, Ph.D., Dean, fundraising successfully and building institutional connections throughout Europe. Before that, he Faculty of Applied Science was a professor at Johns Hopkins University with joint appointments in Mechanical Engineering and Earth and Planetary Sciences. At Johns Hopkins, he served as chair of the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering in the School of Engineering, and helped establish a new undergraduate major in Environmental Engineering and a successful Center for Environmental and Applied Fluid Mechanics. He has also previously served as professor in the Colleges of Engineering and Agriculture at the University of California, Davis. Of special interest to the Department of Civil Engineering is the fact that Dean Parlange has been appointed as a professor in our own Department. An expert in water resources engineering, his extensive background in environmental fluid mechanics makes him an exciting addition to our Hydrotechnical group. Dr. Parlange will maintain a research office in the Department of Civil Engineering, and we look forward to seeing him around our Department as often as possible. Welcome, Dean Parlange! 2

Photo: Martin Dee

Message from the Head

Department of Wood Science and SCARP. These partnerships allowed us to continue to hire the best and brightest into the Department, despite budgetary constraints. We’ve also continued to enhance the quality of both the student and the faculty work space at Civil. To that end, facility improvements have included renovated and expanded graduate study space and new faculty meeting rooms. Upgrades are ongoing, as we strive to keep our research, teaching and study spaces on the cutting edge of academic facilities. I look forward to a year of continued growth in the Department. Our search for civil engineering’s top academics will intensify, as we search for a new Instructor and at least two new Assistant Professors, who will need to fill the large shoes of some of our senior faculty members who have retired or are anticipated to retire during the next year. We will also continue to work closely with industry to ensure we are delivering graduates who are best prepared to make an impact as professionals. The Industry Advisory Council, which plays a very important role in this endeavour, will be meeting this spring to help solidify these relationships. I anticipate a very rich discussion with our industry colleagues at this event, leading to further clarity on how we can continue to fulfill our obligation to industry, and to society, to deliver civil engineering graduates who will keep our built environment safe and sustainable. My time as Head has been thoroughly enjoyable; I’m pleased to have learned and grown from this experience, and am very grateful for the support I’ve received from my faculty colleagues and staff. However, I do look forward to transitioning back to my two passions on a full time basis: research and teaching. I regard the future at Civil with the utmost confidence, knowing that the faculty and the new leadership of the Department will help maintain Civil as one of the most sought-after programs. I hope you find this issue of civil@ubc interesting and informative. I welcome your comments and suggestions, and encourage you to contact me at reza.vaziri@ubc.ca.



Top Canadian and Indian institutions form $30M partnership to improve water and infrastructure safety and eradicate diseases Researchers from the University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, University of Toronto and 11 leading institutions in India are joining forces in a $30 million partnership to tackle urgent issues in both countries. Supported by the Canadian government and state and industry partners in India, the India-Canada Centre for Innovative Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Accelerate Community Transformation and Sustainability (IC-IMPACTS) will focus on three key areas: safe drinking water, reliable infrastructure and effective prevention and treatment of water-borne and infectious diseases. The partnership will support new technology spinoffs and the training of more than 700 students and researchers. Through the development, deployment and commercialization of new technologies, and the training and exchange of students and researchers, IC-IMPACTS is expected to generate economic benefits for both nations while building research capacity and solving issues of importance to both countries. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the partnership in November 2012, while in New Delhi. “Collectively, UBC, U of A and U of T have an impressive track record of international research collaboration in India that brings about tangible changes to communities. This partnership, unprecedented in scale, will allow us to find — and apply — solutions to some of the most pressing issues in both Canadian and Indian communities,” says Professor Stephen Toope, UBC President. Hosted at UBC, the partnership was spearheaded by ICIMPACTS’ Scientific Director and Civil Engineering Professor Nemkumar Banthia. Banthia will also lead the Sustainable and Safe Infrastructure research program, which will develop new tools to assess the condition of aging concrete structures; develop low-cost, concrete-based building materials reinforced with fibre from agricultural waste; and devise low-cost strategies for strengthening structures against earthquakes. From UBC, Civil Engineering Professors Carlos Ventura and Dharma Wijewickreme will join forces with the teams. A signature strategy of IC-IMPACTS is to demonstrate technologies in selected partner communities in Canada and India. In India, Faridkot (in Punjab), Nagpur (in Maharashtra) and Roorkee (in Uttarakhand) were selected to participate. These cities range in population from 20,000 to 3 million and face challenges that collectively represent broader societal challenges in India. For example, Faridkot and Nagpur rely strongly on thermal power plants, producing large quantities of fly-ash waste. IC-IMPACTS researchers will investigate the feasibility of using fly-ash as a cement replacement for new constructions.

Agricultural waste and natural fibres such as cotton are also plentiful in these communities, allowing researchers to explore using natural fibres to reinforce nonstructural building materials such as roofing, siding and flooring. Nagpur and Roorkee are both in seismically active zones, and their civil infrastructure has badly deteriorated. IC-IMPACTS researchers will assess, monitor and devise a strategy for strengthening buildings, bridges, dams and power plants. Similar challenges exist in these communities in the areas of integrated water management and disease prevention. In Canada, IC-IMPACTS will work with Hamlet of Pangnirtung, Nunavut; Lytton Creek First Nations Community in British Columbia; and the village of Thorsby and Alberta. The Integrated Water Management research program, led by U of Alberta Mechanical Engineering Professor Sushanta Mitra, will develop, test and L-R: Professors Dharma Wijewickreme, Carlos Ventura, implement new technologies Nemy Banthia, Pierre Bérubé, and Reza Vaziri to monitor water quality and treat potable and waste water. In this case, the Network will draw upon the expertise of Professor Pierre Bérubé of UBC Civil Engineering. The Public Health Disease Prevention and Treatment research program, led by U of Toronto Professor Stewart Aichison, will research water-borne diseases. Application of public health strategies will be led by researchers from Public Health Ontario and UBC School of Nursing Professor Susan Dahinten, in collaboration with the Public Health Foundation of India, Guru Nanak College of Nursing, and Baba Farid University of Health Sciences in Faridkot, Punjab. The $30 million IC-IMPACTS is supported by a $13.8 million grant from the Canadian government’s Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Program. The Canadian universities will invest $3.75 million; Indian institutions, nearly $4 million; and the Indian State of Gujarat, $3 million. The remaining contributions come from Public Health Ontario, the Public Health Foundation of India, and other non-profit and industry partners. Notable industrial partners in India include Reliance Industries Ltd., Golder Associates, Kryton International Inc., Lars Enviro Pvt. Ltd., Lifecare Innovations Pvt. Ltd., Pultrall Inc., Robonik India Pvt. Ltd., Sensor Technology, Stantec, Starmass Environment Technologies, Stewols India (P) Ltd., Vector Corrosion Technologies and Tata Consultancy Services. For further information please visit www.ic-impacts.com. 3


Learning and Doing

Twelve Years of Teaching Sustainable development to engineers at Cambridge University On September 7, 2012, Dr. Heather Cruickshank of University of Cambridge presented a seminar on the history of the subject of sustainable development and how it has made its way into the undergraduate program at University of Cambridge. The presentation showed how teaching has evolved and how expectations have changed over the years. Focusing on student experiences and drawing on their

feedback, Dr. Cruickshank reflected on how to make change happen within an academic institution and in the wider world of engineering professional practice. Her presentation also covered the philosophy and content of the graduate program at University of Cambridge, which is now in its tenth year of delivery.

Lifting the Veil on Exposed Structure On October 15, 2012, Paul Fast, P. Eng., presented on the topic of modern timber engineering. The field has come a long way from the quaint log cabin of old, giving rise to a whole new realm of opportunity for adventurous architects and engineers. Paul noted that the mounting desire for sustainable, economical, and “honest” design has encouraged the move towards exposed structures —

buildings that showcase engineering ingenuity and intricate integration of mechanical, electrical, and acoustical systems. But despite its ability to reduce structural volume, material costs, and serve triple or quadruple functions, exposed structures can be a risky endeavour.

Robotic Exploration of Aquatic Environments On October 2, 2012, Professor Bernard Laval gave a lecture on this exciting topic. He noted that exploration of the aquatic environment is complicated by extreme pressure and nearzero propagation of radio or microwave radiation. While extreme pressure requires bulky pressure protection vessels, a greater obstacle to exploration of aquatic environments is the lack of radio or microwave data transfer, which precludes

GPS positioning or remote control. Despite these challenges, advanced autonomous undersea technology is transitioning from developers to users. Dr. Laval presented a user’s perspective on how such technology can be used to access recently inaccessible regions.

Design and Construction Coordination with Building Information Modeling

On November 6, 2012, Professor Sheryl Staub-French, gave a lecture on the significant challenges facing the construction industry, including increased design complexity, a fragmented supply chain, compressed project timelines, tightening budgets, and stagnant productivity. Building Information Modeling (BIM) holds great promise for addressing these challenges, enabling project teams to collaboratively construct virtual building models to support design, construction and operations. However, successful implementation of BIM requires drastic changes in the


organization of work, and it remains unclear how to best integrate these digital representations into work practices that are becoming intensely collaborative. The seminar presented research that was conducted in collaboration with computer scientists to study BIM implementation on several building projects at UBC. These studies have led to the development of new tools and techniques to interact with, visualize, and integrate these models to better support multi-disciplinary decision processes.


Seismic Structural Health Monitoring of Bridges in British Columbia Canada by Carlos Ventura, Ph.D., P.Eng.

UBC and the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (BC MoTI) have collaborated on a program to monitor infrastructure for earthquakes and general structure health. The British Columbia Smart Infrastructure Monitoring System (BCSIMS) uses state-of-the-art remote sensing technology to confirm seismic capacity, focus retrofit efforts, perform structural health evaluations and provide rapid damage assessment following a seismic event. BC MoTI is responsible for 400 km of provincial Disaster Response Routes and maintains 900 bridges and other structures in the highest seismic zones. The loss of several structures would have an immediate impact on public wellbeing, emergency services access and economic recovery in the region. Consequently, BC MoTI has great interest in obtaining information in an efficient and easy to access way in an earthquake event.

Using advanced data analysis and interpretation, BCSIMS will transform the current practice of inspecting and evaluating all structures after an earthquake into one of prioritized inspections and maximization of scarce resources. The alert systems and public-access web pages can display real time seismic data from the structures integrated with data from the BC Strong Motion Network (SMN) which has over 130 stations and was developed by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). The http://www.bcsims.ca website facilitates user interaction and operational management via two view modes. The public view consists of a shake map and the restricted view contains further information for advanced users, such as downloadable data and unpublished results. The figure below shows a screen shot of the website homepage. The circles represent the strong motion network stations, and the squares are structural stations.

A public view of the BCSIMS web page, showing the network of stations that are currently part of the BCSIMS project (dots represent ground stations, squares represent instrumented bridges)

Getting Ready for the Big One

A version of this story appeared in the Heritage BC Quarterly, Winter 2013. http://www.heritagebc.ca/resources/HBC_Q21_Winter2013.pdf

We rarely get a detailed picture of what tomorrow could bring. The 2011 Christchurch New Zealand earthquake gave British Columbians just such a preview. Dr. Ken Elwood, a Structural Engineering Professor from the University of British Columbia, in Christchurch for, of all things, a conference on seismic upgrading, witnessed the destruction and the aftermath first hand. It left an indelible impression and a

strong desire to avert the same fate here. Dr. Elwood has partnered with the Victoria Civic Heritage Trust (VCHT) — a non-profit organization established in 1989 to promote and help finance the rehabilitation of commercial and institutional heritage property in Victoria. Public awareness presentations by Ken Elwood, organized by the VCHT, at City Hall and the Urban Development Institute have already created their 5

Getting Ready for the Big One continued

own shock waves in the business and professional community. A pilot project designed by VCHT has started with Old Town. The research component of the project will include a seismic risk assessment of heritage buildings. Led by a Civil Engineering graduate student, Brandon Paxton, teams of engineering and geography students have Lower Johnson Street in Victoria will be gathered information on part of a Victoria Pilot Project to historic buildings in a twopromote earthquake preparedness block area of Old Town. The project uses a case-specific

data-collection form devised by the graduate student, based on a model from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Research Council of Canada. The teams will not perform detailed engineering assessments of individual buildings, but will strive to identify the most obvious deficiencies and potential hazards, thereby identifying mitigation actions which may result in the greatest improvement in seismic risk. Once the data are gathered, the VCHT will devise a grant program. For example, many older buildings have parapets and facades not secured to the floor levels. A grant program could encourage parapet reinforcement — a relatively simple and inexpensive procedure. For years the City of Victoria has offered tax relief for seismic upgrading in residential heritage buildings. It’s time for a similar program for downtown commercial buildings. Those images of Christchurch could be any city in B.C.!

Project and Construction Management at UBC Civil: Transitions continued from page 1 and design coordination (Amir Tangestani, see article on page 7) with BIM. This project was unique because it was the first time her BIM Trailer (see picture below) was utilized to support construction on site. The project team, led by Ledcor Construction, used the BIM Trailer for design coordination meetings with the design consultants and sub-trades. Students worked directly with the project team to complete their research, which provided an excellent learning opportunity. Professor Staub-French also has several multi-disciplinary projects under way including an NSERC Strategic Project called IDEASS (www.ideass. civil.ubc.ca), which involves a collaboration with professors in architecture, community planning and computer BIM Trailer in use at the UBC science. IDEASS focuses on Pharmaceutical Sciences Project developing new tools and techniques to help decisionmakers involved in delivering sustainable infrastructure to evaluate alternative designs and explore the performance


attributes, costs and benefits more efficiently. Professor Staub-French’s focus in this collaboration is investigating how BIM can be leveraged for building operations using UBC as a case study. She is also contributing to the national efforts to advance BIM adoption and implementation, including CanBIM (www.canbim.com) and the Institute for BIM in Canada (IBC, www.ibc-bim.ca). Additional information on Professor Staub-French’s research can be found at www.bimtopics.ubc.ca. Professor Thomas Froese is also active in BIM — particularly data exchange and integration — and other areas of information technologies for construction. He has been collaborating with Dr. Dana Vanier, Research Associate in the area of infrastructure management, including topics of information flows in the infrastructure industry and assessing the sustainability of public infrastructure projects. Professor Froese’s other research activities include project management (techniques for assessing management practices on projects) and sustainability (including UBC’s Sustainable Building Science Program). Recently, he has been collaborating with Dr. Susan Nesbit, Senior Instructor, to work with graduate student Matt Wright, the Civil Engineering Department’s first Master of Applied Science student working in the area of Engineering Education.



never knocks twice: perspectives from the construction industry Directly following his graduation from the UBC Master of Applied Science program in Project and Construction Management, Amir Tangestani (MASc’11) started working as the Building Information Modeling (BIM) Technology Specialist at Ledcor, the North American supergiant in construction. BIM was one of Tangestani’s primary areas of research while he was at UBC. Under the joint supervision of Professors Alan Russell and Sheryl Staub-French, Tangestani pursued his interests through several unique, hands-on research opportunities including the Hotel Georgia and UBC Pharmaceutical Sciences Building construction projects. After completing his bachelor’s degree in architecture, Tangestani searched for a program that would fulfil his newly found passion for engineering. He was particularly concerned with finding a program suitable for his interests in BIM, 4D Modeling, collaboration and project coordination and the Project and Construction Management program at UBC aligned perfectly. Tangestani worked closely with Prof. Russell on his location-based, linear scheduling application called REPCON. He helped Russell compare the technology to existing commercial linear scheduling applications for his thesis. In referencing the research facilities and tools — such as the highest-end computer machines and collaborative smart screens tools — Tangestani agreed that the whole experience was entirely unique. The program allowed Tangestani to participate in a building construction project in the heart of downtown Vancouver where he evaluated different linear scheduling-based 4D modeling approaches for the Hotel Georgia. He was also involved with the construction of the multiple award-winning UBC Pharmaceutical Sciences Building, a project that connected him with Ledcor. During his involvement with the project, Tangestani was not only appointed with routine research duties but was also assigned to real tasks by Ledcor, allowing him to get involved in actual aspects of the job. “I was breathing the project on a daily basis and was considered as a resource,” Tangestani said. “Being a part of the coordination meetings, I learned a lot about building mechanical and electrical systems and using the BIM technology.” He credited Prof. Staub-French’s extensive list of industry contacts as the main factor that linked him to the project.

The collaboration brought Tangestani into close contact with the construction team, allowing him the opportunity to work with Ledcor employees and experience their culture of open-mindedness and teamwork. He was also fortunate to have Marwan Bakri, the Manager of Clash Detection Project Coordination — BIM and Virtual Construction UBC Pharmaceutical Sciences Building Services at Ledcor, as his main point of contact during the project. “Having him as a patient tutor was the best thing that happened to me,” Tangestani said. “I was getting up-tospeed not only with the project itself but also with the technologies and the methodologies used by Ledcor.” Bakri is currently Tangestani’s supervisor and close friend at the company. Now as the BIM Technology Specialist at Ledcor, Tangestani is directly applying his UBC education, research and experiences. An employee of one of the biggest and most successful construction companies in North America, Tangestani has nothing but appreciation for his coworkers who he describes as “talented” and “always ready to embrace challenge.” He admits that his organic transition from architecture to the Project and Construction Management program, as well as his personal focus on BIM, has equipped him with a unique understanding and ability to support his coworkers with construction and project management-related tasks. “The program was the perfect match for me and almost everything about it was unique for me,” Tangestani said. “As a high school student, I always envisioned myself standing on huge building structures, leading and managing the construction from on-site. The Construction Management program at UBC helped me take another step towards that dream, connecting me with Ledcor.” For students wishing to make their transition from school to industry smoother, Tangestani encourages determination and persistence, quipping that “opportunity never knocks twice.” His own experiences in the Project and Construction Management program taught him to take advantage of every opportunity, even the smallest ones.



UBC Department of Civil Engineering Opens New Structural Engineering Teaching Laboratory The Department of Civil Engineering welcomed industry partners to campus on April 24th, 2013, to mark the grand opening of the new Structural Engineering Teaching Laboratory in the Civil and Mechanical Engineering Building. Those present witnessed a demonstration of the lab’s new Reconfigurable Structure Testing Frame and Small Scale Shaking Table Facility. The new testing frame, which includes a computer Rob Third (George Third & Son), centre, receives a certificate of recognition for his contribution controller that recreates to the project from Professors Reza Vaziri (L) and dynamic loads in real-time, Tony Yang (R) will enhance the educational experience of civil engineering students by allowing them to test the failure rates of the structures that they build. In the past, they could only calculate theoretical failure rates. “The testing frame was invented here at UBC and is the very first of its kind in the world,” says Dr. Tony Yang, Assistant Professor in the Civil Engineering Department. “Every undergraduate student in the Department will have access to this state-of-the-art lab, and they will work in groups

to design scaled-down structures, simultaneously benefitting from teamwork, hands-on construction experience, and firsthand exposure to the failure of structures.” Professor Yang is the faculty member responsible for procuring the funding necessary to establish the lab, and he already has plans to expand the use of the new lab to include courses in concrete, timber, and steel structures. Graduate students will also have access to the facilities in order to develop innovative components for extreme loads. The new lab, made possible by gift-in-kind donations from several benefactors totalling over $100,000, is the first structural lab ever to be used for teaching purposes in the Department of Civil Engineering. It provides UBC with a major advantage over other universities — the new technology will expose students to situations typically only experienced by professional engineers, which will better prepare them for careers as structural engineers. The Faculty of Applied Science and the Department of Civil Engineering would like to sincerely thank the following donors for their generous contributions toward the Structural Engineering Teaching Laboratory: SEABC (which also co-hosted the April 24th event), Ebco Metal Finishings, George Third and Son Ltd., Varsteel Ltd., and Pacific Bolt Manufacturing Ltd.


Appreciative of his beginnings, Professor Zhao transports to new opportunities After three successful years as an assistant professor at UBC, Jinhua Zhao (M.Sc.’04, Ph.D.’09) will be leaving to pursue his research in MIT’s Urban Studies and Planning department. Jointly appointed in UBC’s Department of Civil Engineering and the School of Community and Regional Planning, Zhao was hired to encourage collaboration between the two — a task he greatly enjoyed. “Transportation is a field where engineering thinking and planning thinking are both required in research and practice,” says Zhao, who also strongly encouraged interdisciplinary work in his courses through group projects and joint seminars. “It’s important for the two groups of students to appreciate each other’s style of thinking — it gives a fuller picture of transportation.” UBC also provided Zhao with the opportunity to pursue his research through its links to industry. His collaboration 8

with Translink and SNC-Lavalin gave Zhao a platform with which he could collect data, discuss new ideas and implement his research. Zhao cites his colleagues in civil engineering as a winning highlight of his time at UBC, fondly referring to his fellow “YUFs” (Young and Untenured Faculties) as a constant source of support and comradery. “This group is special.” Zhao says. “One’s view of a city is often shaped by the handful of people that he encounters. I am fortunate to have the YUFs to be my milieu of Vancouver. We will be friends forever.” “UBC is the place I learned to be a young professor. It is during these three years that ideas were born and I identified my research direction, and so I am very thankful for my time at UBC.”


50 years later, Professor Russell retires after achieving undergraduate dream Professor Alan Russell (MSc ’70, PhD ’73), Eng., retired from the Department of Civil Engineering on the 50th anniversary of his love affair with UBC Engineering — a journey that he began as an undergraduate student at UBC. Although Russell aspired to be a UBC faculty member as early as his undergraduate years, it was only after he had garnered a name for himself — working briefly at Dominion Bridge in Montreal prior to pursuing his PhD at MIT and then helping to create the Centre for Building Studies at Concordia University between 1973 and 1982 — that Russell returned to UBC. He began his career at UBC as the sole faculty member in construction. After relocating his family from Montreal to Vancouver, he started to create the construction and project management program at UBC, establishing its presence at the graduate and undergraduate levels. As the program garnered its second faculty member, Russell became the first Chair in Computer Integrated Design and Construction. During his academic career, Russell also connected with a few key construction industry visionaries who supported his research efforts and facilitated his involvement with a number of large-scale projects such as the Calgary Olympic Oval, the Vancouver SkyTrain, the Confederation Bridge and numerous projects in the US and Hong Kong. “It was great to be able to interact with these visionaries who basically said that we’re doing well, but we can do better,” Russell mused. “To be blunt about it, they put their money where their mouth is.” As a professor, Russell valued his experiences working with “some terrific young people” and named the process of seeing his students grow and succeed after graduation as one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching and graduate

student supervision, with some 60 research graduate students supervised to completion. One of Russell’s most eye-opening experiences as a teacher was when he offered to read his undergraduate class’ CVs, gaining a completely different view of his students as individuals and as a collective. In 1997, Russell became the Head of the Civil Engineering Department where he would grow the faculty by 8 members, assist in overseeing the building of the Earthquake Engineering Research Facility and create the department newsletter and industry advisory board. He would also undertake the administration of the Engineering Management Program from the Dean’s office where it was previously housed, a 30-second negotiation that resulted in the hiring of a third faculty member in construction. On his positive experience as Head, Russell emphasized the enjoyment of learning more about his colleagues. “The cliché — though it’s true — is that the civil department is a very civil place to work,” jokes Russell. On the subject of his retirement, Russell is thoughtful, citing the relationships that he made with students and colleagues as the highlight of his career. “You get the odd award along the way but that’s not the highlight. It’s the people and the relationships,” he reflects. A wearer of many hats, Professor Russell’s prolific career at UBC saw him as a teacher, an academic, a collaborator with industry and as an administrator who grew the construction program in the civil engineering department. “There is a continuum to life. Your time in the sunshine has a beginning and it has an end and you have to ask yourself, did I help maintain that continuum?” Russell laughs. “I would say yes, I contributed to it — I have always been active in the department.”

Professor Millar shifts gears In search of new challenges, Robert Millar (B.Sc.’84, M.A.Sc.’91, Ph.D.’94), P.Eng/P.Geo., has returned to industry after 16 years on faculty at UBC; he is now working as a Senior Water Resources Engineer at Golder Associates. During his time at UBC, Millar was recognized as an exceptional educator, receiving the prestigious Killam Teaching Prize in 2007 and the APEGBC Award for Teaching Excellence in 2012. Appreciated for his ability to facilitate classroom engagement, he consistently made challenging material more easily understood and redesigned course content to improve student learning outcomes. “Seeing students become enthusiastic about the subject material; seeing the light bulbs go off… it’s those one-on-one

interactions with students that are the most rewarding,” says Millar. On the subject of his decision to return to industry, Millar is thoughtful. “When you get into engineering, it’s because you want to work on projects and build things,” he muses. “My focus has recently shifted from research to engineering practice. Research tends to focus on what you do not know whereas practice focuses on applying what we already know.” Millar will continue to be involved with UBC as an adjunct professor where he intends to combine his practical engineering experiences at Golder with continued teaching in civil engineering.



Co-op in Construction by Eric Tam

From spending time inside a 5.1km long tunnel to measuring roughness of epoxy-based coatings on the micrometer scale, UBC Engineering Co-op has provided me with a wide range of opportunities on varying levels. I spent my first 8-month term at an international joint venture between Maeda, CREC, and SELI in Hong Kong. The project involved the construction of a 7.27 meter-wide tunnel to divert and prevent storm water from flooding into urban areas. From this experience, I was Eric Tam, Co-op student, pictured at exposed to various the Seaspan Vancouver Shipyards aspects of the tunnelling industry.

These aspects included: ongoing inspections of the tunnel during its construction by the tunnel boring machine (TBM), coordinating large amounts of data for settlement monitoring, and working with an associated software firm to optimize the processing of daily generated data. For my next 4-month work term, I continued work in the geotechnical field at UBC with research into the shearing effects of soil on pipelines lying on the ocean floor. In addition, I performed a site investigation for another project that researched the effects of soil movement on buried gas pipelines. Follow-up work with CAD was then performed to produce a site plan detailing pipeline burials. Currently on my final 8-month work term, I am working with SNC-Lavalin on the Modernization Project of the Vancouver Shipyards. Being a part of the project management team, my work includes site inspections, quantity takeoffs, management of engineering drawings for the entire project, and coordination with differing contractors and suppliers, and the owners. The experiences I have gained from co-op have been invaluable to me, and I hope to put these to further good use upon graduation.

Civil grad students in environmental engineering teach Vancouver kids about drinking water by Shona Robinson

Each May, the BC Water and Waste Association (BCWWA) hosts Drinking Water Week across the province. The goal is to educate British Columbians about our water and what we can do to protect it. This year, BCWWA’s UBC student chapter brought a new twist to the event. To meld their scientific Christopher Lawson, Michal Simhon, Aline Bennett, Shona Robinson, Connor Wilson, and Jörg Winter, background with the pictured at a Drinking Water Week community event goals of Drinking Water Week, Pollution Control and Wastewater Management graduate students developed a series of experiments demonstrating drinking


water treatment processes presented as a mini science fair. This travelling science fair was showcased at UBC Science Rendezvous, in local grade 5–6 classes, and at the South Hill Community Festival. Kids were encouraged to formulate and test hypotheses about how each water treatment step would work. They coagulated scummy pond water, optimized a water filter, and found the winning combination of pipes to transport water. The travelling science fair was featured by Global News on May 21st, and by the Vancouver School Board online. BCWWA was so impressed with the result that they hope to take the experiments province-wide next year.


Meet the People of Civil Engineering Ruth Derksen (Ph.D.'08) has recently joined the Department of Civil Engineering (January 2013) as an Instructor, jointly appointed with the Department of Materials Engineering. Previously, she was located in the Centre for Professional Skills Development (CPSD) at UBC where she taught, coordinated and designed technical communication courses. She earned her Ph.D. (2008) in the Philosophy of Language at the University of Sheffield, UK. She also earned an M.A. (1999) and B.A. (1995) in English from Simon Fraser University. She has taught rhetoric, writing and English courses at both SFU and UBC. Additional international teaching experiences

Calling all Civil

have augmented her understanding of students who struggle with English as an Additional Language (EAL). Her research interests focus on linguistic structures, genre conventions and audience design — particularly in the epistolary genre. She has also conducted research for the British Columbia Ministry of Education (1999) that assessed the transition of English language skills between secondary and post-secondary school students. During her study leave, a similar research project will assess the transition for students in both India and China who come to Canada to study at UBC.



The Faculty of Applied Science is committed to keeping in touch with our civil engineering alumni, and to providing you with useful services. We can connect you with long-lost classmates, or provide rewarding opportunities to become involved with current civil engineering students, such as mentoring or acting or as a guest speaker at an event. Alumni are encouraged to become mentors in the UBC Engineering Mentoring Program, which enables industry members to share their experiences with both junior and senior engineering students, helping them to develop the skills required for a successful career. Industry nights also provide an excellent opportunity for professionals to participate in the educational and career development of future engineers. Alumni can showcase their businesses and participate as guest speakers, focussing on topics such as industry trends, the future of engineering, and available career opportunities. The Faculty of Applied Science recently welcomed our alumni back to campus for Alumni Weekend, highlighted

by the annual Engineering Alumni Reception where Dean Eric Hall presented on the accomplishments of the Faculty over the past year, as well as our priorities moving forward — such as the new Engineering Student Centre. If you missed the event this year, we hope that you will be able to join us next May for Alumni Weekend 2014. The event represents an ideal opportunity to reconnect with former classmates new Engineering Student Centre will be a and witness first-hand the exciting The central hub for close to 5,000 engineering students growth and advancement of the Department of Civil Engineering. For more information about how to get involved as alumni, or if you would like to update your mailing address with us, please contact Sarah Barclay, Applied Science Alumni Relations Manager at sarah.barclay@ubc.ca.

graduation@civil On May 28, 2013, a Graduation Reception for the Civil Engineering Class of 2013 took place in the Wayne & William White Engineering Design Centre. A large group of students attended with their friends and family members, to celebrate and hear remarks from Professor Reza Vaziri, Head of Department, Professor Bernard Laval, Associate Head of Undergraduate Students, and Professor Victor Lo, Graduate Program Admissions Advisor. Several graduating students were honoured for their achievements during their time at UBC, including Jason Braun, Yuki Kishimoto, and Harmen Van Hove, who each received Civil Engineering Academic Achievement Awards, and Hady Abou Jaoude, who received a Civil Engineering Undergraduate Leadership

Award. The following students received a Civil Engineering Undergraduate Design Award for their excellent coursework as a group: Yun Chung Thomas Hsueh, Jianhua (David) Jiang, Yuki Kishimoto, Carrie Li, Keenan Ngo, and Oi Kei Esaly Wu. It was a memorable occasion for all who attended, and a fitting celebration for many parents and other loved ones who stood so proudly alongside the students throughout their studies and during the momentous occasion of graduation. This year 205 students from the Department of Civil Engineering officially graduated: 147 B.A.Sc., 14 M.A.Sc., 38 M.Eng., and 6 Ph.D

Yuki Kishimoto (L), pictured with Professor Bernard Laval (R), receives a Civil Engineering Academic Achievement Award




to the following faculty for their achievements Professor Jonathan Fannin was inducted as a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) for his exceptional contributions to engineering.

Professor Michael Isaacson was named President of APEGBC.

Professor Tarek Sayed was inducted as a Fellow of both the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering.

Professors Jim Atwater and Pierre Berube received the 2013 Donald R. Stanley Award for the best paper in the Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering.

Professor Greg Lawrence was inducted as a Fellow of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering.

Professors Nemy Banthia, Ken Elwood, and Bernard Laval received three of only twelve nationally awarded Discovery Grant Accelerator Supplements from NSERC in the 2013 competition.

Professor Dharma Wijewickreme was inducted as a Fellow of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. He also received the 2013 Horst Leipholz Medal. Adjunct Professor Rob Millar was selected as the recipient of APEGBC’s 2012 Teaching Award of Excellence.

Professor Perry Adebar was awarded the UBC Killam Teaching Prize for 2012–2013.

Professor Ken Elwood was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. He also received the ACI Delmar L. Bloem Distinguished Service

Award from the ACI Board of Directors during their fall 2013 meeting for outstanding leadership of Committee 369, Seismic Repair and Rehabilitation.

Professor Carlos Ventura received the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Award in December 2012 for outstanding contribution to the seismic risk reduction of the Tribhuvan International Airport in Nepal, together with his Ph.D. student Bishnu Pandey.

Professor Carlos Ventura, Professor Liam Finn and Research Associate Armin Bebamzadeh received the following awards for the development of the Seismic Retrofit Guidelines of public schools in BC — the Lieutenant Governor's Award of Excellence, the Soft Engineering Award of Excellence from the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies — British Columbia; the 2013 Canadian Consulting Engineering Award of Excellence and the 2013 Engineering a Better Canada Award from the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies—Canada.

The Civil Club announced that its choices for Top Undergraduate Professors for 2012-2013 were Professor Perry Adebar for second year, Professor Terje Haukaas for third year and Professor Pierre Berube for fourth year. Professor Nemy Banthia, as a co-author has received the Aftab Mufti Medal for the Best Paper published in the Journal of Civil Structural Health Monitoring in 2011 entitled “Corrosion detection in reinforced concrete using induction heating and infrared thermography".

Outstanding Students Prestigious Awards Anirban Guha, UBC Civil Engineering Ph.D. candidate, received the prestigious 2013 David Crighton Fellowship from the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) at the University of Cambridge. The award will support Guha to study and conduct research at Cambridge for two to three months, where he will be working with Prof. Peter Haynes to study stratospheric advection in atmospheric flows, as it pertains to the stratospheric polar vortex, and which significantly impact our weather and climate patterns. Kelly Graves was awarded the UBC Aboriginal Graduate Fellowship. Kelly is a Master of Applied Science student in Environmental Fluid Mechanics. She is researching under-ice mixing due to solar heating in an arctic lake in Finland where she was able to use conventional instrumentation as well as use an autonomous underwater vehicle to collect data. Kelly is proud to be part of the Okanagan First Nation and to be raising awareness of aboriginal women in science. NSERC Graduate Scholarships and UBC Four-Year Fellowships The National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) awarded the 2012 Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) to Ph.D. candidate Shona Robinson, M.A.Sc. candidate Lisa Tobber, and M.A.Sc. candidate Stanley Chan; the NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship (PGS-D) was awarded to Ph.D. candidate Elnaz Amirzehni. The UBC Four Year Doctoral Fellowships (4YF), which provides financial support to outstanding Ph.D. candidates for the first four years of their doctoral studies and research, were awarded to Sina Amini Niaki, Ruslan Amarasinghe, and Saeid Allahdadian.

The UBC Civil Concrete Toboggan Team placed 3rd in the top speed, and 10th overall of 21 teams in the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race 2013, the oldest and largest engineering student competition in Canada. Team members were able to be part of the complete life cycle of a project and gained experience in the importance of safety in addition to performance in engineering design. They also gained practical experience in concrete mix design, reinforcement, and steel fabrication. The UBC Steel Bridge Team achieved the following rankings in the Steel Bridge Competition at the 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers Pacific Northwest Student Conference at Oregon State University: 1st in Display, 2nd in Stiffness, 2nd in Construction Speed, 4th in Economy and 3rd Overall. This notable outcome qualified the team for participation in the 2013 National Student Steel Bridge Competition (NSSBC) at the University of Washington, Seattle. The UBC EERI Undergraduate Seismic Design Team was honoured to represent UBC at the Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition, hosted by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute Student Leadership Council. It was a successful experience for the team, and they were proud to represent UBC and Canada at this international competition, where they placed 19th overall. Notable achievements included a rank of 2nd place in the presentation competition. M.A.Sc. student Ryan Rasmussen won the 2013 Canadian Dam Association Scholarship for his research on "Optimization of Revelstoke Dam Operation during the Spring Freshet".


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the Department of Civil Engineering in The Faculty of Applied Science at The University of British Columbia.

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Profile for UBC Engineering

UBC Civil Engineering Fall 2013/Winter 2014 Newsletter  

UBC Civil Engineering Fall 2013/Winter 2014 Newsletter  


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