Posts By: Phill Snel

CivMin grad students in team placing second at Water Environment Association of Ontario design competition

Left to right: Menghong (Freya) Wu (CivE MASc candidate) and Yucong Shi (ChemE 1T9 + PEY, CivE MASc candidate) with Yourong Li (ChemE MEng candidate) and  Shuyi (Yvonne) Zhang (ChemE 1T9 + PEY, MIE MEng candidate)

A multidisciplinary team of U of T Engineering alumni and students, including two graduate students from CivMin, placed second in the 2021 Water Environment Association of Ontario student design competition.

Menghong (Freya) Wu (CivE MASc candidate) and Yucong Shi (ChemE 1T9 + PEY, CivE MASc candidate) with Yourong Li (ChemE MEng candidate) and  Shuyi (Yvonne) Zhang (ChemE 1T9 + PEY, MIE MEng candidate) took high honours against schools from across the province to address a real-world challenge: retrofitting the Port Dalhousie Waste Water Treatment Plant to prevent the release and overflow of untreated sewer water.

To address this challenge, the team proposed implementing storage tanks for overflows in the treatment plant and identified locations for constructing catch basins and a storm water management pond in the upstream collection system. The design is flexible, economically feasible, and eliminates the threat of combined sewer overflows at the Port Dalhousie Wastewater Treatment Plant.

This story originally posed by ChemE.

Lucia Stafford recognized with Silver T award for track & field success

“Lucia Stafford will go down in the record books as one of the best Varsity Blues athletes of all time.”

The University of Toronto recognized 19 Varsity Blues student-athletes with Silver T awards on Monday, April 12. 
The prestigious Silver T is awarded to Bronze T holders in their graduating year for outstanding athletic performance.
In years past, the awards were handed out at the annual President’s Reception, however, the University of Toronto campuses remain closed as we play our part to ensure the health and wellbeing of our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Nevertheless, U of T President Meric Gertler understands and values the exceptional accomplishments and contributions of these U of T students to the university and Varsity Blues program.


Lucia Stafford (Year 4 CivE) will go down in the record books as one of the best Varsity Blues athletes of all time. She was named the OUA and U SPORTS female cross country rookie of the year in 2016, helped the Blues to the 2017 national team title, earned OUA first team all-star and U SPORTS first team all-Canadian honours in all three of her cross country seasons, including winning both races to be named OUA and U SPORTS female athlete of the year in 2019.

On the track, Stafford is a four-time OUA all-star and three-time U SPORTS all-Canadian. In her first season with the Blues, the civil engineering major from Toronto was named the OUA rookie of the year and U SPORTS female performer of the meet, leading the Blues to the 2017 national title. The following season, Stafford was named the winner of the Dr. Wendy Jerome Trophy as the OUA female most valuable performer.

Internationally, Stafford represented Canada at the 2016 U20 world track and field championships, and also earned two fifth-place finishes in the 1500m and 4×400 relay at the 2019 FISU Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy. She was named U of T’s female rookie of the year across all sports in 2016-17, while also being named U of T’s T-Holders’ female athlete of the year and the OUA female athlete of the year across all sports in 2019-20.

This story originally published by Varsity Blues


Previous stories include:


CivMin’s Stafford named OUA Female Athlete of the Year

CivMin’s Stafford named female Varsity Blues Athlete of the Year

Lucia Stafford named OUA Athlete of the Week

Lucia Stafford breaks Canadian U23 1500m record

National champion: Lucia Stafford strikes gold in Kingston


CivMin professor and alumni receive Ontario Professional Engineers Awards

Professor Baher Abdulhai (CivMin), recipient of the Engineering Excellence medal, speaks to students in the Intelligent Transportation Systems lab at the University of Toronto. This photo was shot prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Laura Pedersen)

A CivMin professor and two alumni are among the two U of T Engineering professors and three alumni who have been honoured by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) and Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) with Ontario Professional Engineers Awards. These awards recognize professional engineers in Ontario who have made outstanding contributions to the profession and to society  

Professor Baher Abdulhai (CivMinwon the Engineering Excellence medal, recognizing overall excellence in the practice of engineering. Professor Eric Diller (MIE) garnered the Young Engineer Medal, for an early-career engineer who has demonstrated professional excellence as well as service to the community. Alumnus Hugo Blasutta (CivE 7T7, MEng 7T8received the Management Medal, for innovative management contributing significantly to an engineering achievement. Alumnus Peter Halsall (CivE 7T7) won the Gold Medal, recognizing public service, technical excellence, and outstanding professional leadership.  Alumna Sandra Odendahl (ChemE MASc 9T0) received the Citizenship Award, given to an engineer who has made significant volunteer contributions to the community. 

These recipients illustrate the amazing depth and breadth of the contributions being made by U of engineersspanning research, management, entrepreneurship, professional leadership, and service to the profession and to the community,” said U of T Engineering Dean Christopher Yip. “On behalf of the Faculty, my warmest congratulations to these outstanding engineering faculty and alumni on this well-deserved recognition.” 



Baher Abdulhai conducts leading-edge research aimed at reducing traffic congestion and enhancing efficiency and sustainability. His achievements include the establishment and leadership of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Centre and the iCity Centre for Transformative Transportation Systems, as well as the invention of two patented traffic signal control systems, which have been licensed by major technology firms.

He has authored and co-authored 65 journal papers, 146 refereed conference papers, and 12 book chapters. Abdulhai’s research team has won several international awards, including the International Transportation Forum Innovation Award in 2010 and best dissertation awards at the IEEE ITS and INFORMS conferences. The ITS Centre garnered the Ontario Showcase Merit Award of Excellence and the National Bronze Medal Award in 2005. In 2014, Abdulhai received the U of T Inventor of the Year Award. He held a Canada Research Chair from 2005 to 2010. Abdulhai has led the teaching of intelligent transportation systems at U of T since 1998, receiving an early career teaching award from the Faculty in 2002. He is an elected fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the Engineering Institute of Canada, and received the 2018 Canadian Society for Civil Engineering Sandford Fleming Award for contributions to transportation engineering. 



Hugo Blasutta has more than 40 years of high-level management experience in the consulting engineering industry. His numerous executive roles include Partner at Yolles Partnership Inc., CEO of MMM Group Limited, and President and CEO of WSP Canada Inc. In these roles, he energized the organizations, developing a high-performance culture, recruiting and developing leading technical and business talent, and developing and implementing ambitious strategic plans. Through enhanced development opportunities and performance incentives, Blasutta ensured that young engineers in these firms could develop their technical and managerial skills and advance in their careers.

He also spearheaded technical and business innovations which put the companies he led at the forefront of the industry and resulted in significant business improvements, including employee engagement, client satisfaction, and financial performance. His management of these firms advanced the Canadian consulting engineering industry. Blasutta has served on several industry boards of directors and advisory boards. He is currently a member of the Industry Advisory Board for the Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering, providing guidance to support the department’s collaborative research activities with industry and enhance opportunities for experiential learning for students. 



As Chairman/CEO of the Halsall group of companies, Peter Halsall led the integration of sustainability into all aspects of its businesses and services and its growth to over 350 employees. After Halsall’s sale to an international company, he was responsible for creating the company’s global sustainability program. As Executive Director of the Canadian Urban Institute, Halsall led the development of Solutions for a Low Carbon Future. He has co-founded Synergy Partners, a building restoration firm, and Purpose Building, a sustainable building company.

Throughout his career, he has ensured that sustainability is the central tenet of the organizations he leads. Through the Halsall Family Foundation, Halsall has supported several community organizations providing opportunities for disadvantaged youth. He has served on advisory boards for U of T and McMaster University, as well as community organizations such as Evergreen Cityworks, and has led many efforts to design a greener city. Halsall’s work has been recognized with Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Canada Green Building Council, Sustainable Buildings Canada and the Ontario Building Envelope Council. He has been inducted into the U of T Engineering Hall of Distinction and received a U of T Arbor Award for his service to his alma mater.  Halsall was elected a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering in 2011. 



By Carolyn Farrell

This excerpt from the article originally published in full by U of  T Engineering News

CivMin profs win Skule™ Student Choice Awards



Created by the University of Toronto’s Engineering Society, in order to recognize instructors who went above and beyond during this global health crisis,
the Student Choice Awards are the first to be fully curated and operated by students.



Two CivMin professors received Skule™ Student Choice Awards, as announced at Faculty Council on Tuesday, April 6:


In the six categories there were several CivMin contenders:

  • Prof. Michael Seica, Qualifying Runner-up for Best First Year Instructor and Qualifying Runner-up Best Online Learning Experience
  • Prof. Ron Hofmann, Qualifying Runer-up for Best Upper Year Instructor
  • Prof. Daniel Posen, Qualifying Runner-up for Supporting International Students
  • Prof. Eric Miller, Qualifying Runner-up for Supporting Student Mental Wellness


Background on the SCA
from the Skule™ website:

What are the Student Choice Awards?

The Student Choice Awards (SCA) seek to acknowledge instructors in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering (FASE) who demonstrate excellence through a set of student-defined criteria, including teaching methods and skill excellence, community involvement, EDI, and more. Each academic year, students can nominate instructors to be recognized in several categories. Nominations are carefully evaluated by an appointed committee of students and award recipients will be invited to a ceremony at the end of the school year to celebrate their achievements and lasting impact on the Skule™ community. Students who nominate winning instructors may be invited to present the awards. Take a moment today to recognize the hardworking instructors in your life and help promote the values that are important to you in teaching!

Why have these awards?

We want to recognize and give thanks to the instructors who went above and beyond as educators. We are all part of a larger community of education and this is an opportunity to express our gratitude to those who’ve made an impact. These awards aim to promote an atmosphere of high-quality teaching, student-oriented support and ethical practices. By recognizing these attributes when they appear in our instructors we can encourage other instructors to exhibit the same.

While other teaching awards and accolades already exist within the FASE, the SCA are the first to be fully curated and operated by students, giving us direct control over what we wish to recognize in our instructors.

CivMin YouTube video sees March surge of interest


Over 500,000 views within a two-week period provides spotlight to Structures Lab video

A video posted on CivMin’s YouTube channel nearly seven years ago has received a sudden surge of interest during the month of March.

The 2014 posting titled “Beam test…watch beam failure in slow-motion!” has garnered over a half-million views in recent weeks. Over the last several years the video has received moderate attention, but suddenly surged to almost 1.4 million total views, the majority of which occurring over the last two weeks of March. A peak of nearly 46,000 views in a single day stood out on March 26.

A graph shows the viewing audience for the CivMin YouTube video “Beam test… watch beam failure in slow-motion!” during March 2021, with over 500,000 new views. (YouTube)

Speculation abounds as to the reason the nearly seven-year-old video has bloomed in popularity. A suggestion offered was it might be the time of year in many engineering courses when it is usual to discuss different ways that concrete members can fail, and maybe they added our video to their online class. Perhaps a professor made a list of useful videos to watch, and this was one.

Team members assemble for a group photo.


The testing was done June 2014, as part of the annual Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) Big Beam Contest by Team University of Toronto, in the Structures Lab.  Participants include Rami Mansour (CivE MASc 1T6), Amos (Mengyuan) Chen (CivE 1T3, MASc1T6), Karl (Bingyue) Shao (EngSci 1T3, CivE MASc 1T6) and Xi Li, with faculty advisor Prof. Paul Gauvreau.

The concrete span was tested to failure (when the reinforced concrete beam could no longer carry the load). The strands started to yield at approximately 156KN. Strands yield when the load reached 157.8KN. The U of T team’s entry placed fourth in the Zone 7 grouping for the 2014 competition.


The online video description reads:

Each year, the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) challenges students to design, fabricate and test a prestressed concrete beam. Each beam is judged on a number of criteria including cost, efficiency, practicality and accuracy of predicted behaviour. Teams from all around the world compete in this international competition. The 2014 team from the University of Toronto includes Rami Mansour, Amos Chen, Karl Shao and Xi Li. The rectangular, variable depth beam is post-tensioned with harped strands.

For the test, the beam was supported at it’s two ends with two incrementally increasing loads at midspan. It is interesting to note that the majority of the beams deflection occurs after the steel tendons have yielded. In addition, the explosive failure is a result of the concrete crushing at the top of the beam.

Prof. Khandker Nurul Habib & Prof. Shoshanna Saxe | ‘Game changer’ active transportation fund needs to address pre- and post-COVID gaps: MPs, stakeholders

March 31, 2021 | The Hill Times

Civ Club wins discipline club of the year from EngSoc

Every year the Engineering Society (EngSoc) gives this award to the best Engineering Society Discipline Club. Criteria for evaluation includes the quality and organization of their dinner/dance, level of student involvement in the club, quality and organization of the Iron Ring Party, contributions to the Engineering Society at large, and the quantity and quality of any other events undertaken by the club itself. 

Civ Club Chair Karen Chu sends this note of appreciation. 

"Thank you to the Awards Committee and EngSoc for recognizing our achievements. I want to give a huge shoutout to all the discipline clubs for all their hard work this year to improve the student experience with everything online.

This year has been different, to say the least, and everything Civ Club has done was a team effort. From our first mentorship event back in May to our final dinner dance event, everyone has put in countless hours for not only our social events but also for our student resources such as our academic calendars, PEY blog, and health and wellness. Civ Club wouldn't have been able to accomplish all that we did without a dedicated group of leaders who wanted to provide memorable events despite the pandemic and its limitations. I am really proud of the Civ Club team for all their efforts and motivation, so thank you to Kent, Awale, Emanuele, Nina, Polina, Fahd, Christian P, Bo, Tanin, Naveen, Thomas, Michael, Mahzabin, Christian C, and Mahia because, without you guys, there would be no Civ Club.

I also want to say thank you to the Civ/Min department for their continued support and to both Skule and the civil engineering community for allowing us to serve as the 2020-2021 Civ Club, and for allowing me to serve as your Civ Club Chair. It has been an absolute honour and pleasure, thank you!"

Karen Chu, Civ Club Chair 2T0-2T1 (Year 4, CivE)

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March 26, 2021 | Global News

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March 24, 2021 | KHN – Kaiser Health News

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