Posts Categorized: News

U of T Engineering places among global top 20 in QS World University Rankings 2021

U of T Engineering is Canada's top-ranked engineering school and among the best in the world. (Photo: Daria Perevezentsev)

U of T Engineering remains Canada’s top-ranked engineering school and is now in the global top 20, according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject for 2021.

The rankings, released March 4, placed U of T Engineering 18th globally in the category of Engineering & Technology. This marks an increase from last year’s position of 22nd and the fourth consecutive year where the institution improved its ranking. Among North American public universities, our closest competitors, U of T Engineering now ranks 3rd.

“Our rankings and reputation are a direct result of the hard work and dedication of our community: faculty, staff, students, alumni and partners,” said Dean Chris Yip. “From the world-leading impact of our research to the richness of our student experience — including opportunities to develop leadership and global perspectives — we can all be proud of everything we do to shape the next generation of engineering talent.”

In terms of overall institution-level rankings, U of T placed 25th in the world. It also placed first in Canada in 30 out of the 48 specific subjects on which it was measured, and in the global top 10 internationally in areas ranging from education (third) to anatomy and physiology (sixth).

“This latest international subject ranking reflects the University of Toronto’s strength across a wide array of disciplines, from the humanities and social sciences to medicine and engineering,” said U of T President Meric Gertler.

“It is also a testament to our unyielding commitment to research, innovation and academic excellence.”

Quacquarelli Symonds evaluates universities by looking at five broad fields — Arts & Humanities, Engineering & Technology, Life Sciences & Medicine, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences & Management — and 51 specific subjects. The results are based on four measures: academic survey results, employer review survey results, citations per faculty and an index that attempts to measure both the productivity and impact of the published work of a scientist or scholar.

By: Engineering Strategic Communications
This article originally published on Engineering News

U of T fourth at Canadian Mining Games

A group photo of the University of Toronto team at last year’s 2020 Canadian Mining Games competition in Halifax, NS.

With a fourth-place finish in this year’s 2021 Canadian Mining Games virtual competition, the U of T team was a mere 20 points behind first place. An incredible accomplishment for the team made up of predominently first-time participants.

The event was held online February 19 – 20, 2021, with McGill University and Polytechnique Montréal  hosting, and bringing together students from 11 Canadian universities.

The team’s co-captains, Stefano Girardo (Year 4 MinE) and Devlen Malone (Year 4 MinE), penned a letter of thanks including the following:
The 31st anniversary of the games marked a monumental year for the University of Toronto team as our successes were not only celebrated by our own team, but by other collegiate teams and event sponsors as well. We are proud to say that the team was able to place: 1 st in three events (Underground Rock Mechanics, Health and Safety and Crisis Management), 2nd in 5 events (Leaderboard, Scheduling for Value, Mineral Economics, Sustainable Development and the Stock Market Challenge), 3rd in Underground Data Analytics and 4th in five events (Underground Mine Design, Surface Geotechnics, Mine Trivia, Mineral Processing and Operational Excellence) just narrowly missing a podium finish!”

Toronto’s COVID-19 bike lane expansion boosted access to jobs, retail: U of T study

A study by U of T Engineering researchers found Toronto’s temporary cycling infrastructure increased low-stress road access to jobs and food stores by between 10 and 20 per cent, and access to parks by 6.3 per cent (photo by Dylan Passmore)

With COVID-19 making it vital for people to keep their distance from one another, the city of Toronto undertook the largest one-year expansion of its cycling network in 2020, adding about 25 kilometres of temporary bikeways.

Yet, the benefits of helping people get around on two wheels go far beyond facilitating physical distancing, according to a recent study by three University of Toronto researchers that was published in the journal Transport Findings.

Bo Lin, Shoshanna Saxe, and Timothy Chan.

PhD candidate Bo Lin (MIE) with Professors Shoshanna Saxe (CivMin), and Timothy Chan (MIE), all of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, used census, city and survey data to map Toronto’s entire cycling network – including the new routes – and found that additional bike infrastructure increased low-stress road access to jobs and food stores by between 10 and 20 per cent, while boosting access to parks by an average of 6.3 per cent.

“What surprised me the most was how big an impact we found from what was just built last summer,” says Saxe, an assistant professor in the department of civil and mineral engineering.

“We found sometimes increases in access to 100,000 jobs or a 20 per cent increase. That’s massive.”

The impact of bikeways added during COVID-19 were greatest in areas of the city where the new lanes were grafted onto an existing cycling network near a large concentration of stores and jobs, such as the downtown core. Although there were new routes installed to the north and east of the city, “these areas remain early on the S-Curve of accessibility given the limited links with pre-existing cycling infrastructure,” the study says.

In these areas, the new infrastructure can be the beginning of a future network as each new lane multiplies the impact of ones already built, Saxe says.

As for the study’s findings about increasing access to jobs, Saxe says they are not only a measure of access to employment but also a proxy for places you would want to travel to: restaurants, movie theatres, music venues and so on.

A map of Toronto’s bikeway network with colours representing the route’s level of stress (image courtesy of Bo Lin)

The researchers used information from Open Data Toronto and the Transportation Tomorrow 2016 survey, among other sources. Where there were discrepancies, Lin, a PhD student and the study’s lead author, gathered the data himself by navigating the city’s streets (as a bonus, it helped him get to know Toronto after moving here from Waterloo, Ont.).

“There were some days I did nothing but go around the city using Google Maps,” he says.

For Lin, the research has opened up new avenues of investigation into cycling networks, including how bottlenecks can have a ripple effect through the system.

The study, like some of Saxe’s past work on cycling routes, makes a distinction between low- and high-stress bikeways to get a more accurate reading of how they affect access to opportunities. At the lowest end of the scale are roads where a child could cycle safely; on the other end are busy thoroughfares for “strong and fearless cyclists” – Avenue Road north of Bloor Street, for example.

“It’s legal to cycle on most roads, but too many roads feel very uncomfortable to bike on,” Saxe says.

For Saxe, the impact of the new cycling routes shows how a little bike infrastructure can go a long way.

“Think about how long it would have taken us to build 20 kilometres of a metro project – and we need to do these big, long projects – but we also have to do short-term, fast, effective things.”

Chan, a professor of industrial engineering in the department of mechanical and industrial engineering, says the tools they used to measure the impact of the new bikeways in Toronto will be useful in evaluating future expansions of the network, as well as those found in other cities.

“You hear lots of debates about bike lanes that are based on anecdotal evidence,” he says. “But here we have a quantitative framework that we can use to rigorously evaluate and compare different cycling infrastructure projects.

“What gets me excited is that, using these tools, we can generate insights that can influence decision-making.”

The U of T team’s research, which was supported by funding from the City of Toronto, may come in handy sooner rather than later. Toronto’s city council is slated to review the COVID-19 cycling infrastructure this year.

ByGeoffrey Vendeville


This story originally published by U of T News

Civ Club secures Silver Tier Sponsor

Student clubs are a vital part of campus life at U of T, providing students with a social outlet, networking skills and professional development. Sponsorships are the lifeblood in keeping clubs active, and in providing resources towards programming and outreach.

David Schaeffer Engineering Ltd (DSEL), an engineering consulting firm, recently became a silver tier sponsor of the Civil Engineering Club (Civ Club). The company was founded by U of T Civil Engineering alumnus, David Schaeffer (CivE 8T1) in 1994. Schaeffer describes DSEL as, “Using the power of AI technology to redefine industry expectations in subdivision design.”

“With DSEL's sponsorship, Civ Club and its members will benefit from their contributions. We will be able to offer discounted prices on merchandise and increase the level of resources used towards our events,” says Karen Chu, Chair of the Civ Club.

Civ Club Sweater Design

Civ Club will also be allocating funds toward upgrading its student common room to better suit the needs of students. In addition, the sponsorship has allowed the club to offer official Civil Engineering hoodies to the Civ community.

Throughout the year, Civ Club organizes various social, academic, professional and wellness events to strengthen the Department’s tight-knit community. Its upcoming annual Coffeehouse event, on Friday, February 26, will showcase the Civ community’s many talents via Zoom (signup HERE).

The club also hosts multiple mentorships events to connect first year students with upper year students, as well as game nights and other social events.

“School can be challenging and stressful at times, so we organize events that will hopefully relieve some stress through our game nights and prize giveaways,” says Chu.

As Civ Club has found, sponsorships are critical to student-run clubs, as funding makes it possible for clubs to offer greater services to its members and community.

Civ Club Members


About: DSEL is an industry leading consulting engineering firm that harnesses the power of AI technology to solve complex subdivision design challenges with unparalleled speed and efficiency. Canada's largest and most reputable builders and developers rely on DSEL to guide them through the complex development process. DSEL has positioned itself as an industry disruptor and is constantly seeking young engineers who do not accept the current industry status quo. DSEL will continue to leverage technology to push the limits of the possible and redefine industry expectations for subdivision design speed, precision and cost effectiveness.

Black History Month: Presidents reflect on the impact of National Society of Black Engineers at U of T

Past and present NSBE U of T presidents

Past and present NSBE U of T presidents (From top left, clockwise: Iyiope Jibodu, Akira Neckles, Alana Bailey, Dimpho Radebe, Mikhail Burke and Kelly-Marie Melville.)

Kelly-Marie Melville (ChemE 1T2 + PEY) was in her dorm room, just two weeks into her studies at U of T Engineering, when a fellow student Korede Owolabi (CompE 1T5 + PEY) and member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) U of T chapter came knocking on her door.

“He gave me a full rundown about NSBE, and I didn’t fully understand the gravity of it at the time,” says Melville. “But once I started my classes, I got it.”

Melville remembers sitting in Convocation Hall, where all first-year engineering students traditionally gather for their first class together.

“It was intimidating for someone who just moved here from Trinidad and for someone who is just starting engineering. I remember thinking, ‘oh my goodness, there is no one here who looks like me.’”

NSBE, founded in 1975 at Purdue University, aims to promote, support and increase the number of Black engineers who excel academically and professionally. Each year, the NSBE National Convention brings thousands of members together for networking and professional development opportunities. The organization’s goal is to graduate 10,000 Black engineers annually by 2025.

The U of T chapter, founded in 1999, is the largest in Toronto. And for more than 20 years, NSBE U of T has played an important role in increasing Black inclusion at U of T, and in fostering a safe space among Black engineering students, who continue to be underrepresented among the student body.

Three years after that knock on the door, Melville was NSBE president (2009 to 2010), and found herself using the same recruitment strategy. “Sometimes I was even chasing students down in the hallways to talk to them [about NSBE],” she says.

One of the students she introduced NSBE to was Akira Neckles (ChemE 1T7 + PEY), who would also eventually become president (2016 to 2017). During her studies, Neckles remembers seeing only five Black students within her year.

“That can really make you feel like you don’t belong,” she says. “With NSBE, it felt like it brought us together. Within a program, we’re less, but within a group, we’re more.”

Over the years, each NSBE U of T president would bring a unique vision and leave their own legacy of impact.

During Melville’s term, she worked to significantly increase NSBE U of T memberships. For Neckles, her focus was on professional development, inviting organizations to U of T so that members were informed of career pathways, even before looking ahead at their Professional Experience Year (PEY) Co-op.

During Dimpho Radebe’s (IndE 1T4 + PEY, ChemE PhD candidate in EngEd ) presidency (2014 to 2015), she was challenged with keeping NSBE U of T afloat, as memberships began to dwindle.

“I think the biggest challenge for NSBE is that, although it is an organization created to support Black students, we’ve always said, we’re open to everyone and not exclusively to Black students,” explains Radebe. “But many students don’t realize that, and it makes our potential pool that much smaller.”

Radebe says one of her greatest achievements during her leadership was sending 10 students to the NSBE National Convention in Anaheim, Calif.

“That experience really inspired students to join because they can see the full power of NSBE versus when you don’t see many of us around at school,” she says. “Many of them ended up running for leadership positions after that.”

For Iyiope Jibodu (ChemE 0T8 + PEY), it was about “NSBE family and NSBE love.” As president from 2008 to 2009, he was instrumental in launching D-Battle, a student dance competition that would attract large crowds to the Sandford Fleming atrium. D-Battle started as an idea by Owolabi to increase membership — the event would become a staple NSBE event for years to come.

“NSBE had a reputation as a professional student group, but we took the risk to host D-Battle, which turned out to be a fantastic platform to increase awareness on campus,” says Jibodu. “By having a fun event with mass appeal, we brought the entire Faculty together and showcased our strong and vibrant community.”

During Mikhail Burke’s (MSE 1T2, IBBME PhD 1T8) presidency (2010 to 2011), he would play a pivotal role in founding ENGage, an outreach program for Black students in Grades 3 to 8 that sparks passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). ENGage has been running for more than a decade out of the U of T Engineering Outreach Office, and would pave the way for Blueprint, a new program designed for Black high school students interested in STEM.

Alana Bailey (Year 3 CivMin) is NSBE U of Ts current president and has had a term like no other — having to lead from home during the pandemic. Despite this challenge, Bailey has set out ambitious goals.

Alana Bailey, Year 3 CivE

Her mission when she took office in May was to have each executive member recruit at least five students — this led to a growth of more than 60 members by September 2020. Under her leadership, NSBE U of T has been more involved in Faculty recruitment events, as well as leading their own high school outreach efforts.

This year, NSBE U of T has also brought in more external sponsors to support initiatives — most recently, NSBEHacks garnered a wide range of sponsorships with leading companies such as Google, NVIDIA and Shopify, just to name a few.

Bailey hopes this effort builds toward retaining sponsorships year-round, providing funds for members pursuing professional development endeavours.

“If students need help to go to a conference or to enrol in an expensive course, our hope is to have the supports to actively help them achieve that,” says Bailey.

Bailey has three months left in her term, before she takes up her PEY Co-op position next fall. She plans to stay in close contact with NSBE, and she isn’t alone in wanting to stay in touch — many former presidents and members continue to advise, mentor and participate in NSBE U of T events.

That includes Burke, who is now the Dean’s Advisor on Black Inclusivity Initiatives and Student Inclusion & Transition Advisor at U of T Engineering. Over the last decade, he has seen and participated in many efforts by U of T Engineering to address Black underrepresentation — and NSBE has always played a role.

“There’s been a shift in what the Faculty feels empowered to do and it’s a good start, but there’s always room to do more. We have to continue to lean into the discomfort of talking about the lack of Black representation and about anti-Black racism on campus,” he says. “Organizations like NSBE are key advocates in driving the Faculty to engage in that change.”

By: Liz Do

This story originally published by Engineering News

The UrbanScanner Project: Mobile monitoring of air pollution in cities

Prof. Marianne Hatzopoulou (left) and her research team, comprised of MASc candidate Keni Mallinen (centre) and Arman Ganji , PhD (right), with the UrbanScanner on the Uof T campus. UrbanScanner is  a rolling laboratory capable of monitoring air quality, traffic, trees and built environment in urban settings. (Photo by Phill Snel)


What rolls around the city getting a lot of admiring looks for its flashy chromed finishes and high tech roof protrusions? It’s not the latest tech from a popular web search engine company; it’s something entirely different. Meet UrbanScanner, a mobile testing laboratory on wheels, in the form of an automobile, researchers are driving around Toronto to monitor air pollution.

The Transportation and Air Quality (TRAQ) research group within the Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering at U of T, led by Prof. Marianne Hatzopoulou, has partnered with Scentroid, a Toronto-based company developing sensor-based systems for urban air pollution monitoring. The result is the development of UrbanScanner.

Hatzopoulou’s team, comprised of research associate Arman Ganji, PhD and Keni Mallinen, an MASc candidate, has been getting a lot of looks while gathering their data, but little is known about this mysteriously well-equipped rolling lab.

Watch an introductory video:

With a 360-degree camera, LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), GPS, an ultrasonic anemometer, temperature and relative humidity sensors, as well as particulate matter and gas sensors, UrbanScanner can monitor air pollution in a variety of methods. A platform on the roof of the vehicle streams data to a cloud server, with air pollution measured every second and paired with the camera and LIDAR images.

An example of UrbanScanner data points collected for pollution concentration overlapped with a City of Toronto street map.

Besides air quality, the traffic, trees and built environment are constantly measured. All of the data is overlaid over city maps with the aid of GPS, allowing for real-time measurements of traffic flow, number and height of trees, as well as building forms. With the ability to measure air flow and pollution near built-up urban areas, the maps can reveal elevated pollution levels, especially at rush hour and depending upon the season.

All of the data collected thus far takes time and effort to process, but Hatzopoulou has plans going forward. “Since September 2020, UrbanScanner has been collecting air quality data across Toronto, both along major roads and within Toronto neighbourhoods,” she says. “These data were paired with images of the urban environment from the UrbanScanner camera and these images will be analyzed to extract important features that affect air quality. This massive database will continue to grow as UrbanScanner collects data across seasons and will help us predict air quality in space and time, providing crucial information about population exposures in the City.”

A graphical abstract for the UrbanScanner project shows urban routes, samples taken and mapping.

Hatzopoulou adds, “Our team is also working on a smaller, more compact version of UrbanScanner with multiple units that will be installed on commercial/delivery vehicles. Imagine a dozen UrbanScanners collecting data simultaneously every day in Toronto!”

The research team is also developing a website to share data from the UrbanScanner project with the public and working on ways to enhance public engagement around urban air quality.

So, now if you see UrbanScanner in your neighbourhood you’ll know exactly what the team is up to. Please feel free to take a snap and tag #UrbanScanner and @CivMin.

By Phill Snel


By the numbers:

~250,000 • Number of data points collected in a month.

2,280 • Kilometres driven in a month of study.

101  • Hours of collection data.

60 • Kilometres driven each day of monitoring.

14 • Sensors on UrbanScanner.

4 • Wheels.

3 • Researchers.

2 • Seats in UrbanScanner.

1 • Mobile laboratory platform.

~ CivMin ~





Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science

In celebration of International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Feb. 11, we asked some of the amazing women within the Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering to reflect on what it means to be a woman in Engineering/STEM.

Donna Vakalis, CivE PhD

Meet Donna Vakalis, a Civil Engineering PhD whose research examines how energy retrofits impact building occupants - in terms of their comfort, health or performance. Donna believes we need to make buildings more energy-efficient while also improving buildings overall - thinking in terms of how buildings impact the quality of our daily activities (working, learning, sleeping etc.).

"Honestly, it makes me happy to look around and see change happening in real time."

What does it mean to you to be a woman in Engineering/STEM?

Honestly, it makes me happy to look around and see change happening in real time. For instance, I see more women professors in engineering and more women on professional panels in the engineering industry.


Do you have a message for girls considering pursuing an education/career in Engineering/STEM?

I moved away from engineering/STEM mid-way through my undergraduate degree,  even though math and physics were my favourite courses. I felt like there was this broader unsympathetic attitude toward social justice in the STEM field and I (mistakenly) decided that I needed to choose between social justice issues OR engineering! I have learned a lot since then. I want everyone, girls/guys/everyone, to know that Engineering is not incompatible with broader social justice work. In fact, we need people who are trained to think rigorously in both of these dimensions.





Meet Sarah Kumar, a fourth year Mineral Engineering student who focuses on the environmental side of mining. Sarah hopes to help advance environmental monitoring and mitigation practices to help create a more sustainable industry.

Sarah Kumar, Year 4 MinE

"I hope to see women continue to advance engineering and STEM fields by adding their unique perspective on problems."

What does it mean to you to be a woman in Engineering/STEM?

Being a woman in engineering is about being myself and pursing my passions. It means working together with different people with diverse skillsets to overcome problems and make things better.

What would you like to see in the future for women in Engineering/STEM?

I hope to see women continue to advance engineering and STEM fields by adding their unique perspective on problems. Our continued contribution will allow for faster advancements on research and technology to create a safer and more sustainable planet.

Do you have a message for girls considering pursuing an education/career in Engineering/STEM?

Engineering and STEM fields open a wide variety of opportunities that can allow you to explore many different paths. These fields offer the opportunity to have a very unique career while still being fulfilling and stable.




Meet Mahia Anhara, a Civil Engineering student currently doing her PEY in the Vision Zero Projects Unit at the City of Toronto. Mahia is particularly interested in the field of transportation so she can help provide improved transit access and safer streets for cyclists and pedestrians.

Mahia Anhara, Year 3 CivE on PEY

"I am grateful to the women who were brave enough to go against societal norms and expectations to follow their passion for engineering."

What does it mean to you to be a woman in Engineering/STEM?

I am grateful to the women who were brave enough to go against societal norms and expectations to follow their passion for engineering. Many of them walked the difficult path of being the only women in their engineering classes and workplaces and facing outright discrimination. Because of the women in engineering before me, I can pursue my passion without my gender becoming a limiting factor. As a woman in engineering, I want to continue the legacy of the courageous women and help promote engineering to girls.


What would you like to see in the future for women in Engineering/STEM?

I would like to see more women in leadership positions in the engineering field. Engineers play a huge role in the functioning of society and to meet the needs of a diverse population. Women are half the population but are very underrepresented in the engineering field. More women in engineering leadership can help bring alternative perspectives and experiences of navigating the world. This would lead to better informed decisions that reflect the needs of our diverse population.


Do you have a message for girls considering pursuing an education/career in Engineering/STEM?

Engineering is more than solving math and science problems. The work that engineers do can make a positive difference in people’s lives and has the power to tackle global problems such as climate change and poverty. If you have a desire to improve our society, engineering is one of the most impactful ways of doing so!




Meet Chibulu (Lulu) Luo, a Civil Engineering PhD Candidate. Lulu uses her engineering skills to address global sustainability challenges and contribute to projects that help drive investments for sustainable infrastructure in developing countries. She has worked extensively in international contexts with institutions such as the World Bank and the United Nations. She has conducted research in Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, and Ghana, as part of her PhD work.

Chibulu Luo, CivE PhD Candidate

"Being a woman of colour and of African descent, I am proud and honoured for the opportunity to inspire young girls who may look like me to say, 'Yes, I can do that too!'"

What does it mean to you to be a woman in Engineering/STEM?

Being a woman of colour and of African descent, I am proud and honoured for the opportunity to inspire young girls who may look like me to say, "Yes, I can do that too!". The sad reality of our world is that young girls of colour may not see themselves represented in engineering and STEM fields - therefore am always happy to share my experience and the exciting opportunities that the engineering profession can bring!


What would you like to see in the future for women in Engineering/STEM?

I would love to see more diversity in Engineering and STEM. Not just the inclusion of women, but women of all backgrounds, races, and creeds. 


Do you have a message for girls considering pursuing an education/career in Engineering/STEM?

We need more girls like you in engineering. You are talented and smart and can bring a different and unique perspective to the challenging and interesting work that we do as engineers! 




Meet Stephanie Marton, a fourth year Civil Engineering student who is pursuing a minor in Environmental Engineering, a certificate in Global Engineering and a certificate in Business, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Stephanie has a keen interest in Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - Sustainable Infrastructure and Communities. She hopes to play a key role in shaping local and global community infrastructure in a sustainable and forward-thinking way throughout her future career.

Stephanie Marton, Year 4 CivE

"Being a woman in STEM helps eliminate the idea that STEM is a male dominated field and empowers me to make a positive impact in our world!"


What does it mean to you to be a woman in Engineering/STEM?

Being a woman in STEM helps eliminate the idea that STEM is a male dominated field and empowers me to make a positive impact in our world!

Every engineer has a duty to society; being in this program constantly reminds me of the significant impact and influence I can have in making our world a better place for ALL. I have had motivating and satisfying experiences in my studies and work in engineering, especially knowing that what I am doing can shape our societies in a beneficial way - a truly empowering feeling!


What would you like to see in the future for women in Engineering/STEM?

No limitations.

I aspire to see a future where everyone is committed and working together to unlock each other's potential. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations provide a great framework to achieve a sustainable and equitable world for all. We need a diverse set of hands on deck for developing innovative ways to accomplish these goals! I would love for women to play a large role in making that happen. As an engineer who has worked in the field and is very passionate about construction, I am looking forward to seeing women continue to flourish in this industry.


Do you have a message for girls considering pursuing an education/career in Engineering/STEM?

Go for it! Be the change you want to see in the world.

Especially in engineering, what you choose to do in your studies and career can make a meaningful impact on the world. If you are open to learning and taking on challenges in an innovative way, your motivation and determination will lead you to be boundless in your contributions! I thrive on pushing myself out of my comfort zone to grow and learn as a professional; I highly encourage other women to do the same! I, along with many others in STEM, am happy to support you in your journey.




Meet Kelsey Smyth, a PhD candidate studying stormwater management and low impact development, otherwise known as green infrastructure. Green infrastructure is used to manage flooding and improve water quality in urban areas. More specifically, Kelsey studies the use of bioretention cells or rain gardens for their capacity to capture microplastics and prevent their spread in the wider environment.

Kelsey Smyth, CivE PhD Candidate

"I would like to see a continued increase in gender diversity in educational programs as well as in industry roles."

What does it mean to you to be a woman in Engineering/STEM?
I love that I get to explore never ending interesting issues and gain the satisfaction that comes from solving a problem. As a woman in Engineering, I am so fortunate to have pursued my studies in Canada at this time when a lot of progress has been made in equity and diversity in my discipline. I am extremely thankful to all the women in Engineering and STEM who paved the way for me and to all the amazing role models I've had including my mom as a woman in STEM who encouraged me and supported me in pursuing Engineering.

What would you like to see in the future for women in Engineering/STEM?
I would like to see a continued increase in gender diversity in educational programs as well as in industry roles. I would also like to see less bias regarding gender roles and perceived characteristics and for there to be more women in high level management but also technical positions.

Do you have a message for girls considering pursuing an education/career in Engineering/STEM?
I did not know what Engineering was before starting university. I chose it because I wanted a field that I found exciting, that would challenge me and that could allow me to make a meaningful impact to society. If you are similarly interested a field where you get to explore and solve new problems, then Engineering is a great field to pursue.

CivMin’s Prof. Packer to receive Lifetime Achievement Award from AISC

Prof. Jeffrey Packer, now sporting a beard during our stay-at-home time.

Professor Jeffrey Packer is to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC). He is among 12 named for recognition by the organization.

According to the AISC announcement, “AISC awards recognize individuals who have made a significant difference in the success of the fabricated structural steel industry. Whether it’s for an innovative design, an insightful technical paper, or a lifetime of outstanding service, an AISC award bestows prestige and well-deserved recognition upon its recipient. The Lifetime Achievement Award honors (sic) individuals whose continued outstanding service has made a difference in the success of AISC, the structural steel industry, and the structural steel design, construction, and academic communities.”

The recognition for Prof. Packer reads as:

Jeffrey Packer is one of the leading researchers and foremost experts on tubular steel structures in the world. In his 40-year career at the University of Toronto, he has conducted groundbreaking research on tubular steel members, connections, and structures and has published extensively on these topics, including numerous books and design guides. His work has significantly advanced both the state-of-the-art and the state-of-the-practice in tubular steel construction. His work has also had a major impact on design standards for tubular steel structures, including those in the AISC Specification for Structural Steel Buildings.

Packer served on AISC task committees that developed the Specification for the Design of Steel Hollow Structural Sections and has served on AISC Task Committee 6–Connection Design since 2002. In 2005, Packer received an AISC Special Achievement Award for his work on tubular structures. In addition to Canadian and international technical committees, he has also served as a member of the American Welding Society D1.1 Committees on Design (TG1) and Tubulars (TG7). The result of his work has had a profound and sustained impact on the structural steel industry.


Three CivMin students receive a University of Toronto Student Leadership Award

Philip Cline, Elizabeth (Liz) Hii and Stephanie Marton, all fourth year civil engineering students, are the three UTSLA winners from our Department.

The University of Toronto Alumni Association has announced three CivMin students are among the 18 Engineering recipients of a University of Toronto Student Leadership Award (UTSLA).

Philip Cline, Elizabeth (Liz) Hii and Stephanie Marton, all fourth year civil engineering students, are the three award winners from our Department.

The UTSLA continues U of T’s long-standing tradition of recognizing outstanding student leadership, service, and commitment to the university. This tradition began with the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award, which was established in 1994 by the UTAA in honour of Mr. Gordon Cressy, former Vice-President, Development and University Relations.

A full list of all recipients is available online.

Surveying Survey Camp: The Repairs, Renovations and Expansion of Gull Lake


Rendering of the HCAT Bunkhouse and MacGillivray Common Room (Credit: V+A Architects)


After more than a century of operation, Survey Camp — one of U of T Engineering’s oldest and most unique sites — is in the process of receiving a much-needed facelift.

Cutline: The scope of the Survey Camp project also includes a new sewage treatment system (pictured). According to Saint-Ivany, the challenge in preparing and installing this advanced on-site wastewater system is that the work to place the oil/grease interceptor, balancing tank, anaerobic digesters, dosing tank, and biofilters and to excavate and place sand fill into the two new dispersal beds has to bracket the winter season. The base-cut excavations for the beds, which can’t be left open through the winter, need to be in good scarification condition, with no snow in them, in order for the sand fill to be placed. Photo courtesy of Morosons Construction Ltd.

Progress on the HCAT Bunkhouse and MacGillivray Common Room, a new modern and flexible-use building, has officially passed the halfway point and are slated to be completed by summer 2021. New washroom facilities are also under construction.

“The wood framing of the three structures has progressed with plywood sub-flooring installed, washroom trusses installed and bunkhouse roof framing and sheathing complete,” says Tom Saint-Ivany, Director of Facilities & Infrastructure Planning at U of T Engineering. “The trenching for the incoming water line has been backfilled, with the waterline installed back to the pump house. Plumbing drains have been roughed-in and electrical rough-ins have commenced. Exhaust ductwork is in place in the washroom building and the exhaust fan is on site. Septic system installation has progressed, with sand fill material stockpiled on site. The buildings have been skirted with tarps for weather protection/heating and a weather barrier has been applied to the bunkhouse.”

Saint-Ivany says that in addition to the installation of the board and batten siding, windows and doors, extensive exterior work on the structures will commence over the winter, including the placement of wall insulation, electrical services, paneling, benches, vinyl floor finish, ceramic tile, interior signage and a variety of fixtures. By spring, a second electrical service and pad-mounted transformer will be in place and exterior landscaping will be completed.


A view of the HCAT Bunkhouse (foreground) framing and the MacGillivray Common Room floor (rear left) and washroom (rear right) in November 2020. (Morosons Construction Ltd)

A view of the MacGillivray Common Room floor (foreground) and washroom (rear) in November 2020. (Morosons Construction Ltd)


Located more than 100 kilometres north of Toronto, on the shore of Gull Lake, near Minden, Ont., Survey Camp is home to U of T’s CAMP (Civil and Mineral Practicals), a multi-week field educational program that challenges U of T Engineering undergraduate students to overcome the adversity of unpredictable, real-world field situations. Nearly 8,000 students have walked the grounds since the inaugural CAMP session in September 1920. Today, as many as 200 Civil and Mineral Engineering (CivMin) students participate in CAMP each year.


DEEP connections at Survey Camp

Survey Camp is remembered by many Civ/Min alumni as a place where they formed deep and long lasting bonds with classmates and faculty. But did you know that Survey Camp also host students outside of CivMin? High school students, attending the Da Vinci Engineering Enrichment Program (DEEP) Leadership Camp, have used the location since 2003. This unique program offers youth the opportunity to explore personal leadership development through a unique integrated curriculum that includes practical applications drawn from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields in an outdoor setting. Participants explore topics in science and engineering through fun, interdisciplinary activities —taught by some of our faculty’s top alumni, PhD candidates, and Master’s and undergraduate students. Thanks to Camp supporters, exploration, discovery and learning is fosters in the next generation of engineers!

Over the years, Survey Camp has also expanded to host students outside of CivMin. High school students, attending the Da Vinci Engineering Enrichment Program (DEEP) Leadership Camp, have used the location since 2003.

After 100 years of vigorous use, a comprehensive upgrade and expansion — both to restore the historic existing structures and to accommodate U of T Engineering’s growing needs — were imperative.

“These developments demonstrate the University’s commitment to support experiential learning at Camp for the long term,” says Professor Emerita Brenda McCabe (CivMin), who is acting as the faculty lead on the project. “The facilities remain respectful of the history of Camp but beckon a new age of learning. Expanded facilities allow multiple student groups to use the facility concurrently. The new septic system allows us to reduce our impact on the environment. These are just the direct and immediate benefits. There will be many secondary benefits that we have yet to see.”

McCabe is anticipating that researchers, in addition to undergraduate students, will benefit from the revitalized Camp site as well.

“It is hoped that we can host graduate courses at Camp in the fall,” she says. “These would be research-focused courses that engage graduate students in a learning environment that is distinct from the city.”

That is, however, dependent on COVID-19 and any physical restrictions that may be put in place. Survey Camp was greatly impacted by the pandemic in 2020, both from an educational and development perspective.

“Many things had to be cancelled or postponed,” says McCabe. “For example, we’ve partnered with the Gull Lake Cottagers Association each year since about 1923 to offer the GLCA annual regatta. In 2020, we had to cancel the regatta. Similarly, we could not in good conscience offer CAMP to students as the facilities did not allow us to safely house the students and instructors. However, the students still need to complete the course to graduate. So, given the new facilities, we are looking to hold slightly larger camps over the next few years so that we can ‘catch up’ and ensure that all of our students experience CAMP.”

Covid 19 caused the cancellation of Survey Camp 2020 as well as unique construction challenges. (Morosons Construction Ltd)

Construction also experienced some setbacks because of COVID-19. Saint-Ivany says that the ability of the general contractor, Morosons Construction Ltd., to mobilize on-site was delayed by about a month due to the Ontario-wide COVID-19 shutdown last spring. The cost of wood products, which are used extensively in the construction of the HCAT Bunkhouse and MacGillivray Common Room and washroom facilities, also increased sharply during COVID-19 as supply was limited and in high demand.

All things considered, Saint-Ivany is confident the site will be ready by summer 2021.

“The buildings are expected to be substantially complete in April with takeover by the University in May,” he says. “Altogether, and COVID-19 dependent, the new facilities will be ready for use by students at the beginning of July.”

By Jamie Hunter


Centennial Campaign for CAMP:

This exciting progress wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of hundreds of supporters
who have brought us to 85% of the $1.5 million fundraising goal. There’s still time to get involved!

Leave your mark on Camp:
The ongoing Centennial Campaign for Camp offers alumni an opportunity to once again “leave their mark” on Camp, and bolster the success future generations of Civil and Mineral Engineering students. All donations are matched dollar-for-dollar as we work toward a goal of $1.5 million (we’ve reached 85 per cent to date!). Donors are gratefully acknowledged on the campaign website. Those who contribute $1,000 or more will be recognized on a permanent donor wall. In addition, bunkbeds can be named for $5,000 and built-in benches for $10,000

Learn more online:
or contact Kristin Philpot +1 (416) 946-7827

Thank you!

We are grateful for every donation. Big or small – every gift makes a difference!
We’d like to give special acknowledgement to those who have given at a leadership level:

Bunkhouse Benefactor: The Heavy Construction Association of Toronto (HCAT) 

Student Common Room Benefactors: Robert MacGillivray (CIV 8T5) & Scott MacGillivray (CIV 8T2) 

Program Benefactors
Peter Halsall (CIV 7T7)
PCL Constructors Canada Inc 

East & West Wing Benefactors:
Hugh Macklin & Jennifer Joyce Macklin
Buttcon Limited

Bedroom Benefactors:
The Association of Ontario Land Surveyors
Lloyd McCoomb (CIV 6T8)
Devon Biddle (Civ 6T7) & Linda Biddle (P&OT 6T5)
John Donald Barber (CIV 6T2)
Bruce Chown (CIV 5T5)
CAMP Instructors – Iron Bars

Skule Society ($1,000 – $25,000)
Class of 0T3
Classes of Civil 6T0–6T5 Campaign for CAMP
Class of Civil 6T8 Campaign  for CAMP
Class of Civil 8T0 Campaign for CAMP
John Bajc, 8T2
Beacon Utility Contractors Limited
Ronald W. Bell, 6T9
Wayne M. Bennett, 6T9
Evan Charles Bentz, 0T0
David C. Brownlow, 5T6
Thomas A Bunker, 5T0
Brian Carter, 6T1
Arun Channan, 8T0
Michael Circelli, 8T3
Michael Cook, 6T3
Ralph Cowan, 6T8
Steve Patrick Dennis, 9T9
Gregory Dimmer, 8T3
Paul G. Douglas, 7T8
Henry N. Edamura, 6T0
Marie-Anne Erki, 8T0
EXP Services Inc
Hugh Fraser, 8T0
Gordon Gracie, 5T2
David H Gray, 6T8
Gull Lake Cottagers’ Association
Leslie & Margaret Kende 6T0
Anthony Lanni, 6T9
Ross Lawrence, 5T6
Arthur Leitch, 6T9
Terrence MacDougall, 6T9
Orlando Martini, 5T6
Brenda McCabe, 9T4
Malcolm McGrath, 5T4
Robert McQuillan, 5T0
Model Railings & Ironworks Inc.
Maureen and Robert Mountjoy, 7T5
Kristin Philpot
Peter and Michelle Rhodes, 6T7
Sidney Richardson, 5T1
John H. Rogers 3T9
Glenn L. Rogers
Matthew J. Roorda
Kenneth Selby, 5T7
Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada
Barbara Simpson
Brent Sleep,
Dana Stanojevic, 9T9
John Starkey, 6T1
John Vinklers, 6T6
Paul Walters, 5T6
Nicholas Walker, 6T5
Arthur H. Watson, 7T5


Previous stories about Survey Camp include:

Survey Camp update: November construction progress

Survey Camp construction underway

Survey Camp Centennial: CAMP100

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