Recent News

Leading the way on lead research

August 30, 2016
Aki Kogo (MASc Candidate) looks over the lead (Pb) pipe experimental setup in the Environmental Lab. (Credit: Keenan Dixon)

Researchers aim to prevent a Flint-like crisis from happening in Canada An interview with Prof. Robert Andrews, Sarah Jane Payne (Post-Doc) and Aki Kogo (MASc Candidate). In 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan, switched its water source from Lake Michigan to the Flint River. Inadequate treatment and reporting caused lead (Pb) contaminated drinking water to be delivered to Flint residents, resulting in a state of emergency being declared. Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Drinking...

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Preventative Engineering: monitoring the health of water systems

August 30, 2016
Preventative engineering

The city is a living organism. People are its cells, and water is its lifeblood. This is the analogy Prof. Bryan Karney uses as the philosophical underpinning of his work in water infrastructure. Like any other organism, things get complex fast. “We have infrastructure systems that are highly deteriorated,” he says. “The challenge is, how do you detect the deterioration of systems efficiently, effectively and accurately?” The deterioration of systems shows up as pipes that...

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Alumni Giving back to Skule™ – John Starkey and Julia Maloney

August 29, 2016
John Starkey and Julia Maloney

Investing in the future by reviving the past: John Starkey gives back to survey camp Since 1921, survey camp has been an unforgettable experience for University of Toronto engineering students. Looking back over 50 years, John Starkey (MinE 6T1) recalls the important role survey camp played in his career as a mining engineer. To ensure students continue to benefit from this unique experience, Starkey sits on the Gull Lake Committee and recently won an Arbor...

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Profile: The Institute for Water Innovation

August 29, 2016

Water plays a critical role in our lives. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) “the total usable freshwater supply for ecosystems and humans is 200,000 km3 of water, which accounts for only 0.01 per cent of all water on earth.” By 2050 global water demand is projected to increase by 50 per cent due to growing manufacturing, thermal electricity generation and domestic use. As global water scarcity and stress persist, solutions are needed...

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Learning Water Systems at CAMP

August 29, 2016

Of all the courses Prof. Jennifer Drake has taught, CME358 – better known as Survey Camp – at Gull Lake is her favourite, in particular a special tutorial Drake runs: Marshmallow Roasting 101. “Civil and Mineral Practicals (CAMP)–Survey Camp– is by far the most rewarding course to teach,” says Drake. For any professor teaching environmental engineering, translating course material into real-world applications is difficult in an urban setting. “CAMP is a microcosm of everything that...

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Students travel to Honduras, install solar powered water pump for remote community

August 29, 2016

This spring two CivE students travelled to Roatán, Honduras as part of the 2016 Student Passport Initiative, to improve water access in a community of 600. The community previously spent upwards of $250 per month to operate a diesel-powered water pump. After students installed a 3kW solar array, which operates the pump continuously, the quality of life for the community’s residents vastly improved. “It’s good for students to actually pick up a tool and apply...

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Finding balance between mineral engineering and Indigenous studies

August 29, 2016

Paige Clarke (Year 3 MinE) talks about her educational path. Paige Clarke moved from the small town of Kirkland Lake, Ont., to Canada’s largest metropolis to attend university. Now, as she prepares to start her Professional Experience Year (PEY), she’s looking forward to living in an area with a strong native presence reminiscent of her hometown, where she grew up with the Beaverhouse First Nation and Matachewan First Nation communities nearby. “I grew up with...

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Going for Gold: Donna Vakalis races for Gold in the Modern Pentathlon

August 12, 2016

It’s an understatement to say that Civil Engineering PhD student Donna Vakalis, supervised by professors Heather MacLean and Jeffrey Siegel, has a busy couple of weeks ahead of her. The Toronto native who received her Master’s degree from U of T’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture in 2009, will be one of 36 athletes competing in the modern pentathlon at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. After finishing 29th at the 2012 London...

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U of T Engineering receives $31.6M investment for lab infrastructure

August 4, 2016
The Sandford Fleming Building is just one of the U of T Engineering facilities that received funding through a major investment from the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund. (Image: Neil Ta)

This story originally appeared on Engineering News. A major investment through the Lab Innovation for Toronto (LIFT) project will accelerate infrastructure improvements across U of T Engineering, catalyzing world-class research and enhancing the student experience. The funding was announced today U of T President Meric Gertler with Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan and Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains. It includes contributions from the university, the provincial government and the federal government through...

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Two new faculty are cross appointed with CivE and MIE

July 21, 2016
Two new faculty members join Civil and, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Collaboration is the key to success and the driving factor behind the hiring of two new professors that are cross-appointed with the Departments of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and Civil Engineering. Professors Marianne Touchie (CivE, MIE) and Fae Azhari (MIE, CivE) joined the Faculty at the beginning of July. Professor Touchie completed a BASc and PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on improving the energy performance and indoor environmental quality of existing buildings to make them more comfortable, healthy and sustainable through comprehensive retrofits. Professor Azhari holds degrees in Civil Engineering from Isfahan University of Technology and University of British Columbia, Industrial Engineering from UC Berkeley, and Structural Engineering and Mechanics from UC Davis. She specializes in structural health monitoring (SHM) of engineering systems. U of T Engineering spoke with the new professors to find out more about their research and what they’re looking forward to at U of T: Fae Azhari Could you explain the focus of your research? My work focuses on SHM of engineering systems. Similar to the way a doctor would point out when an organ is malfunctioning in a patient’s body during regular check-ups, SHM is able to diagnose and locate any anomalies in an engineering system. Since this diagnosis happens at a very early stage, the remedial procedure will usually be timely and cost effective. My goal is to address some of the gaps in the succession of tasks from sensor development to implementation and decision making. Why did you choose U of T? Long before pursuing academia, I visited Toronto and the campus here. The historical feel and the intellectual vibe stayed in my mind. I’m so happy to be working here now. My research field is multidisciplinary, and having access to the many great resources, facilities, colleagues and mentors at U of T will be extremely valuable in advancing my research and career. What are you most looking forward to in your new position? I like the sense of collegiality at U of T and look forward to effective collaborations with other researchers. As a new professor, what one piece of advice would you give to new students? At university you are often your own teacher so expect to be treated that way. Try to be proactive and do not be afraid to ask questions. What do you hope to accomplish in your new position/during your time at U of T Engineering? I hope to one day truly ‘profess’ my subject.; to understand the old and new bodies of knowledge in such a way that I can properly judge their significance and place in the grand scheme of things. Marianne Touchie Could you explain the focus of your research? My research focuses on the question of how do we improve the quality of our indoor environment as we strive for greater energy efficiency? Making buildings more comfortable and healthy often come at an energy cost. Why did you choose U of T? U of T is my alma mater so I am well aware of the significance and impact of the research done here and I am looking forward to collaborating with so many talented colleagues and students in both the lab and the classroom. What are you most looking forward to in your new position? With a cross appointment between Civil Engineering and Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, I’m excited to bring together students from across disciplines. As a new professor, what one piece of advice would you give to new students? Allow yourself to wrestle with a problem before asking for help. It is effortless to use Google or message someone to find an answer. But this process doesn’t improve your own ability to problem solve, think critically or take your own position on an issue. During your time at U of T you will gain plenty of technical knowledge but transferable skills like problem solving will be of the most valuable after graduation. What do you hope to accomplish in your new position/during your time at U of T Engineering? Within Civil Engineering, I would like to continue growing the Canadian Centre for Building Excellence (CCBE) with Professors Kim Pressnail and Jeffrey Siegel into a world-renowned research centre for healthy, energy efficient buildings. I would also like to create stronger links through multidisciplinary design courses which will give students an opportunity to tackle today’s important problems with colleagues from a variety of technical backgrounds.

Collaboration is the key to success and the driving factor behind the hiring of two new professors that are cross-appointed with the Departments of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and Civil Engineering. Professors Marianne Touchie (CivE, MIE) and Fae Azhari (MIE, CivE) joined the Faculty at the beginning of July. Professor Touchie completed a BASc and PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on improving the energy performance and indoor environmental...

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