CivMin extends partnership with City of Oshawa’s TeachingCity

(Pictured L to R rear) Prof. Brent Sleep, Chair, Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering at University of Toronto, and Dan Carter, Mayor of Oshawa, stand behind (seated L to R) Dr. Scott Henderson, Dean & Head, Trent University Durham GTA, Dr. Steven Murphy, President, Ontario Tech University and Don Lovisa, President, Durham College. (Photo by Phill Snel)

Today The Department of Civil and Mineral Engineering at the University of Toronto celebrated the five-year anniversary of the TeachingCity partnership with the City of Oshawa, and agreed to extend the collaboration.

Department Chair Prof. Brent Sleep, along with representatives from educational partners gathered at the TeachingCity hub in downtown Oshawa to sign the extension.

“This has been a great partnership, providing meaningful experiences for U of T Engineering students, working across the spectrum of urban issues to engage with Oshawa staff, residents, and businesses to solve real-life problems facing urban areas today,” said Sleep. “This is a tremendous educational opportunity for our students and we are excited to continue developing our activities and projects.”


Prof. Brent Sleep signs the TeachingCity extension. Photo by Phill Snel
CivMin Chair, Prof. Brent Sleep, addresses the TeachingCity members at a ceremony in Oshawa, Ont. on Friday, June 3, 2022. (Photo by Phill Snel)

“The Oshawa TeachingCity is a great living lab initiative and has provided great opportunities for U of T Engineering students working on real-life urban issues. Several UofT Engineering graduate students have benefited from being involved in TeachingCity projects and from working with City of Oshawa staff.

One project addressed the problem of predicting the deterioration of road pavement to allow better decisionmaking for pavement maintenance and replacement. The UofT research team collaborated with the City’s Engineering Branch to use data analytics and artificial intelligence algorithms to accurately predict conditions of roadways in the city. The final model developed by the faculty and students achieved an accuracy level of prediction of pavement deterioration of 80%, greatly improving on the 45% accuracy of the existing model.

Air pollution is a problem in many urban centres and vehicles can make a substantial contribution to urban air pollution. The Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research at the University of Toronto collaborated with a sensor company (A.U.G. Signals and North Line Canada) in a research study to monitor air quality and traffic movements in Oshawa’s downtown core. Faculty and students began the assessment in 2019, and tracked several indicators of air quality to determine the impact of traffic volume on air quality.

I look forward to more exciting TeachingCity projects and opportunities for our students to get involved in meaningful TeachingCity projects that will be of benefit to both the students and to Oshawa. Thank you to the City of Oshawa for supporting the continuation of the TeachingCity!”

`Prof. Brent Sleep

Over five years, 1,711 students and 135 post-secondary faculty have worked with city staff on unique TeachingCity projects that cover core topics including: diversity, equity and inclusion; storm water management ponds; training and advanced technology for firefighters; active transportation; engaging youth; supporting local culture and business; digital wayfinding; optimizing city operations routes; and corporate energy management planning.

The partnership has included 55 applied research projects and 52 courses, as well as 192 experiential learning opportunities where students have become part of team Oshawa through placements or practicums.

The TeachingCity Initiative is a strategic partnership of municipal government, City partners and academic institutions focused on studying and addressing urban issues in Oshawa through innovation, collaboration and shared experiential learning opportunities. The initiative launched in 2017 for a five-year period.

Other post-secondary institutions include Durham College, Ontario Tech University, and Trent University Durham GTA.

By David Goldberg & Phill Snel