Posts Tagged: women in engineering

Civ PhD alumna self-publishes infrastructure book for all ages with environmental message

Mariko Uda PHOTO: Phill Snel, Civil & Mineral Engineering/U of T


She took time off her job to write a book.

Image of the book cover for "Where does it all come from? Where does it all go?"

Mariko Uda (Civ 0T4, PhD 2016) took time away from engineering work in order to pursue a long-held dream of turning author.

Her self-published book titled “Where does it all come from? Where does it all go? Toronto’s water, energy & waste systems” is the result.

Uda has long wanted to share her understanding of infrastructure and environment, saying, “I’ve been thinking about this kind of a book since my civil engineering undergrad. A lot of us live in the city and we turn on light switches, we flush the toilet, and we throw things in the garbage, but we don’t really think about where it all comes from or where it goes.”

Helping to bridge the average Torontonians’ understanding of their daily interactions with utilities, and with resources as a whole, was a key goal. “I’m an environmentalist and I feel part of the problem is that in cities we don’t have a connection to the land or water we are actually dependent on. With this book I wanted to bring what’s hidden up to the surface to show people how we’re connected. For instance, our water comes from Lake Ontario.”


Toronto specific

“I live here, so I picked Toronto to base it upon. If I lived somewhere else, it might have been a different book about a different place. I made it place specific because a lot of books tell you the concepts in abstract in saying something like ‘this is how a water treatment plant works’ or ‘this is how this is how hydro electric energy works’ or whatever. A lot of education is abstract because they’re trying to teach concepts.”


The 52-page book is also illustrated by Uda, making it approachable for all ages and levels of education. Simple diagrams work both to attract and assist children in understanding simple concepts, but are also supplemented by statistics and figures older readers find useful.

I have pictures in it, so it’s good for kids. But also for newcomers, because in coming here they have no idea how and where things are coming from, or are going to, since the place they came from likely had very different infrastructure.

“I did my research on low-impact development stormwater management practices, which are design features that reduce the amount of water going to the storm sewers by holding it on a property or helping it to be absorbed by the ground. That was my research my first two years at grad school, but then I switched to PhD. My doctorate research was on how to design sustainable and resilient neighborhoods for future climate.”sample illustrations in the book


sample illustrations in the book

Booked a sales table before starting

Uda ambitiously first booked a table for Word on the Street, a Toronto book festival, then began her creative process this past spring. With the looming September 22 deadline approaching, it was a strong incentive to finish her project.


Mindfulness is also one of Uda’s goals. “Once we know how we’re connected, then we can be mindful of our connections and then mindful of our actions and our impacts, and interactions,” she proclaims.

This limited-run book is available online at for $20 ($25 with fed tax and shipping).


By Phill Snel


Page in the book that illustrates how storm sewers work


CivE Alumna Deborah Goodings receives Engineering Alumni Hall of Distinction Award

Thirteen accomplished members of U of T Engineering’s alumni community, including CivE alumna Deborah Goodings, were recognized on Nov. 7 at the annual Engineering Alumni Network (EAN) Awards.

The awards ceremony, held at the Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship, celebrated alumni for their outstanding contributions to the Skule™ community as well as their remarkable career achievements.

“At all stages of their careers, U of T Engineering graduates use their creativity, technical knowledge and leadership skills to make life better for people around the world, and tonight’s award winners are shining examples,” said Dean Christopher Yip. “The depth and breadth of their impact is outstanding and truly inspiring. On behalf of the Faculty, I wish them all our warmest congratulations.”

The Hall of Distinction is an assembly of extraordinary alumni, selected for membership by their peers for their exemplary accomplishments. These are graduates whose performances have ultimately defined what is most outstanding in our graduates and in our profession. The careers of the members stand as examples and add a sense of reality to the aspirations of successive generations of U of T Engineering students.

Deborah Goodings, CivE 7T5

Deborah Goodings (CivE 7T5) is associate dean of engineering at George Mason University. In addition to her research and teaching at the University of Maryland, she co-founded and co-directed the UMD Master of Engineering and Public Policy Program. She also established one of the earliest and most active student chapters of Engineers Without Borders-USA, which completed 10 international infrastructure projects under her guidance. In recognition of her Engineers Without Borders-USA leadership, a gift was made to the university to endow the Deborah J. Goodings Professorship in Engineering for Global Sustainability.

Goodings’ experience and expertise have led to her service to the U.S. National Academies and National Research Council, as well as to institutional visiting and review committees both in the United States and Canada. She was elected as a By-Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, in 1996. Her career accomplishments have been recognized with awards from the U.S. Department of the Army; the U.S. National Research Council; the U.S. Universities Council on Geotechnical Engineering Research; Professional Engineers Ontario; and the University of Maryland.

Goodings earned her BASc in civil engineering from the University of Toronto and her PhD in geotechnical engineering from Cambridge University. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers; a Diplomate, Geotechnical Engineering (ret.); a registered Professional Engineer in Ontario; and a proud Canadian.

Learn more about Deborah Goodings (video)

Read about the other recipients from the 2019 Engineering Alumni Awards

The search for a cleaner solution to crushing rocks

Professor Erin Bobicki (MSE, ChemE) wants to decrease the energy required for crushing rocks by 70%. (Photo courtesy of Erin Bobicki)

Whether it’s copper for electric cars, or lithium for cellphones, many everyday technologies and devices are made of or rely on metals. But mining and extracting these valuable commercial minerals can come at a catastrophic cost to the environment.

The process of comminution — crushing and grinding billions of tonnes of rocks a year — is estimated to account for more than four per cent of the world’s energy consumption. Professor Erin Bobicki (MSE, ChemE) wants to decrease the energy required for comminution by 70 per cent.

She and her collaborators in academia and industry are developing a cleaner solution using microwave technology.

“Metal is the basis of almost all the things we know and love — we need mineral processing to function as a society. Unfortunately, it’s extremely energy inefficient. If we can change that, it would make an enormous difference in mining,” says Bobicki, who has researched microwave applications in mineral processing for more than a decade.

Bobicki is leading a team to compete in the Crush It! Challenge, a competition launched by Natural Resources Canada to develop innovative solutions to reduce the energy used for crushing and grinding rocks in the mining industry. Her team, CanMicro, has just been named one of six finalists in the competition, receiving $800,000 in funding to pursue their solution.

By November 2020, the team who demonstrates the most energy savings will receive a $5 million grant to commercialize their technology.

CanMicro’s technology aims to reduce the amount of energy involved in the grinding process by exploiting the fact that valuable minerals tend to be most responsive to heat. When exposing rocks to high-powered microwaves, this variability in thermal response allows rocks that contain valuable minerals to be sorted out from those that don’t.

“That means you don’t grind the ones that don’t contain anything valuable — there’s energy savings right there,” she says.

The intense blast of heat also applies stress and strain on the rocks that generates fractures across the mineral grain boundaries, which also reduces the energy required for grinding.

“We don’t have to grind it as fine because what we’re interested in has already been liberated,” says Bobicki. “Yet another opportunity for energy savings.”

The use of microwaves in the mining industry has long been considered a niche application, says Bobicki. That’s mainly because of the hurdle in developing the technology at a larger scale to handle a high tonnage of rocks.

“That’s what excites me about this project,” she says. “The objective is to scale up.”

CanMicro — which includes Professor Chris Pickles from Queen’s University as well as industry members at Kingston Process Metallurgy, Sepro Mineral Systems, COREM and the Saskatchewan Research Council — now have 18 months to test and pick the right microwave equipment before building a pilot plant in Kingston, Ont.

“I think we have a lot of risks to overcome, since this technology has never been scaled up before. But we believe that we’re going to get much better results at high power and achieve significant energy savings,” says Bobicki. “I think our chances of winning are very good.”

Beyond the competition, Bobicki is excited to see the potential of this technology one day applied, not only at a large scale, but across the mining industry.

“You can’t apply this technology to all rocks but imagine if it worked for half of the ores and we were able to reduce half of the energy required for breaking the rocks — that’s huge at a global scale,” says Bobicki.

By Liz Do

This story originally appeared on U of T Engineering News

Going with the flow: Alumna Jenny Hill aims to improve stormwater management in Toronto and beyond

Jenny Hill (CivE PhD 1T6) advises everyone from landscape architects, to professional civil engineers, to condominium developers, on how to put more water back into the ground and the air. (Photo credit: Yuestas David )

Jenny Hill (CivE PhD 1T6) advises everyone from landscape architects, to professional civil engineers, to condominium developers, on how to put more water back into the ground and the air. (Photo credit: Yuestas David )

Before Jenny Hill took on her current job — working to prevent catastrophic city-wide flooding in the Greater Toronto Area — she worked in a police forensics lab. She thinks her role now is more exciting.

“Forensics is not what people think,” she says. “None of us carry guns, we don’t do a dozen different tests to solve a crime. We have to do very routine tasks, which quickly becomes repetitive.”

In her spare time, Hill pursued a master’s degree in landscape architecture, and eventually moved to Toronto to work in the field. But she quickly discovered that her U.K. training wasn’t completely transferable, and began considering the related field of environmental engineering.

“I decided to reach out to a few professors at U of T, just to get a feel for what was going on,” she says. Soon, she found herself in the lab of Professor Jennifer Drake (CivMin), a leading expert in stormwater systems and management.

Urban stormwater is a critical issue for many large cities, including Toronto, which experienced catastrophic flash floods in both 2013 and 2018. Part of the challenge is that asphalt, concrete and rooftops are normally impervious to water. Heavily paved urban landscapes prevent rainwater from draining into the underlying soil — instead, the built environment channels it into low-lying areas, which quickly become overwhelmed.

Hill focused her research on designing infrastructure that could help absorb excess rain and release it at a more gradual pace. In particular, she looked at the performance of various types of green roofs using the Green Roof Innovation Testing Laboratory (GRIT Lab) at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.

Green roofs are often touted as a potential solution to urban flooding: a 2009 Toronto bylaw mandated the construction of green roofs on all new buildings. But according to Hill, the law omitted any performance-based specifications, limiting its effectiveness.

“It simply says that you have to have one,” she explains. “You know the turf grass you can roll out onto a lawn? You can purchase a similar product, roll it onto the roof membrane and call it a day, but that alone doesn’t have much absorbent capacity.”

A key finding of Hill’s research was how the composition of the soilless planting medium affects a green roof’s performance in adequately meeting the stormwater retention needs of the city. “The planting medium is a key component of a green roof, it influences the performance in relation to stormwater management, and the resiliency of the planting,” says Hill.

Today, Hill works as a research scientist at the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), which is mandated to ensure the conservation, restoration and responsible management of the region’s water, land and natural habitats. In this role, she advises everyone from landscape architects, to professional civil engineers, to condominium developers, on how to put more water back into the ground and the air.

Green roofs are only a small part of the strategy. Hill and TRCA promote feasible, sustainable solutions such as implementing underground stormwater crates and the planting of more tree pits.

They also advocate for floodable landscapes: areas such as the public parks that line ravines throughout the city of Toronto that are specifically designed to flood during heavy rain events. The idea is to contain waters in these recreational areas rather than allowing them to destroy homes and businesses. But Hill acknowledges that it can be a hard sell.

“The public are afraid of flooding, and rightly so,” she says. “They think you’re bringing the flooding to them, but that’s not the case. We can’t easily stop having excess stormwater in the city. We have to decide where to flood; do you want it in your park or in your basement?”

Hill is currently focusing her research on the practice and development of floodable landscapes  around the world — she cites the Netherlands as a useful model — with the aim of implementing more of them throughout Toronto.

Looming over all her work is the threat of climate change, which will likely increase the frequency and intensity of flooding events. Hill says that while floodable landscapes, green roofs, and other low-impact developments will make a positive difference in managing floods, they may not be enough on their own.

“I think that climate change is serious enough that we’re going to need all of these green infrastructure measures, and the pipes.” she says. “It’s not an ‘either or’ situation. We will need all of the engineering.”

By Liz Do

This story originally appeared on U of T Engineering News

Professors Heather MacLean, Bob Andrews and Jeffrey Packer honoured by Engineering Institute of Canada

The Department would like to offer its sincere congratulations to Professor Heather MacLean (CivMin) on being awarded the 2019 Engineering Institute of Canada Julian C. Smith Medal for achievement in the development of Canada

The Engineering Institute of Canada is also recognizing the Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering’s Professors Robert Andrews and Jeffrey Packer by inducting them as EIC Fellows for exceptional contributions to engineering in Canada.

Low-carbon growth in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania | A workshop on governance and finance strategies organized by PhD Candidate, Chibulu Luo

Chibulu Luo (PhD Candidate, CivE) presented her research to start the dialogue. (Photo: Victor Faustine)

On Wednesday, November 7th, the Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering co-hosted a one-day stakeholder workshop on “Steering Low-Carbon Growth and Sustainable Energy Use in Dar es Salaam” in partnership with the International Growth Centre (IGC) and Ardhi University. The workshop, whose preparations were led by Chibulu Luo (PhD Candidate, CivE), was held at the Bank of Tanzania Conference Centre in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania’s largest city and economic hub).

“The workshop provided a unique opportunity for all participants to engage in an interactive dialogue and identify opportunities for low-carbon investments in Dar es Salaam’s key infrastructure sectors such as electricity production, transportation and housing,” says Luo.

Outputs from the event will inform Chibulu’s thesis work which examines patterns of residential energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in the fast-growing city.

Watch to learn more about Chibulu Luo’s project.


In attendance was a diverse group of stakeholders from government, academic and private institutions, including the Dar es Salaam City Council, the Dar es Salaam Bus Rapid Transit (DART) Agency, and TANESCO (Tanzania’s main electricity supply company). Opening remarks were also provided by Dr. Mukuki Hante, Director of Rural and Urban Development, President’s Office, Government of Tanzania; Damien Valente, Chief Executive Officer of Africa Power Technology; and Dr. Makarius Mdemu, Director of the Institute of Human Settlements Studies, Ardhi University). Dr. Alex Kyaruzi, Board Chairman of TANESCO, delivered the closing keynote.

Participants engaged in interactive discussions and debate on governance and financing priorities for a low-carbon growth in Dar es Salaam. (Photo: Victor Faustine)

Dr. Gilbert Siame, University of Zambia; Dr. Murray Metcalfe, Professor of Globalization and Director of the Engineering Education for Sustainable Cities in Africa (EESC-A) Project at U of T; and Dr. Nadine Ibrahim, Post-Doctoral Fellow (CivMin), joined Luo in a closing panel discussion and reflection of the day’s activities.

As a 2018/2019 recipient of the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG) Graduate Fellowship, Luo aims to share policy insights from both the workshop and other key informant interviews in a future works in collaboration with her thesis advisor, Professor Heather MacLean (CivMin).

Watch for a summary of the workshop.

Over 30 participants from government, the private sector and academic institutions participated in the workshop. (Photo: Victor Faustine)

Professor Jennifer Drake wins 2018 OPEA Engineering Medal for Young Engineers

Professor Jennifer Drake has won the 2018 OPEA Engineering Medal for Young Engineers. It is awarded to “outstanding young Ontario engineers, who have made exceptional achievements in their chosen fields.” Her research focuses on Low Impact Development (LID) stormwater systems, watershed planning and stormwater management, and the impact of LID technologies on aquatic environments, urban security and wet weather policy. One of the goals of her research is to help predict and minimize urban flooding – an issue becoming increasingly more serious due to urban sprawl and climate change.

Drake has created new regional flood equations for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. She has served as an expert reviewer for funding agencies and international journals, and has authored several articles for professional magazines. Drake is involved in the local community, serving on the Toronto Region Conservation Authority’s Board of Directors and its Watershed Alliance. She advocates increasing the profile of water resources engineering by engaging with the public through both social and traditional media.

Drake is an Assistant Professor in the University of Toronto’s Department of Civil & Mineral Engineering and is cross-appointed with the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design.

Since 1947, the Professional Engineers Ontario have handed out the Ontario Professional Engineers Awards (OPEA) annually. The OPEAs acknowledge the outstanding work and achievements made by organization members.

Transcending boundaries: U of T Engineering hosts WISE National Conference 2018

Sara Maltese (Year 4 CivE) is the conference chair for the sixth annual WISE National Conference, hosted at U of T Engineering. (Photo credit: Armand Suwanda)

Sara Maltese (Year 4 CivE) is the conference chair for the sixth annual WISE National Conference, hosted at U of T Engineering. (Photo credit: Armand Suwanda)

This weekend, the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) National Conferencewill welcome more than 300 delegates from across Canada to Toronto. They will hear from — and interact with — dozens of academic and industry leaders from a variety of fields connected to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The two-day event, founded six years ago by the U of T chapter of WISE, empowers young women and men in STEM to take charge of their careers and make connections that will help advance their personal and professional goals.

We sat down with conference chair Sara Maltese (Year 4 CivE) to learn more about this year’s conference:

This year’s theme is “Transcend Boundaries.” What does that mean to you?

“Transcend Boundaries” is a message to all delegates that says there are no limits to what we can achieve. It acknowledges that we see obstacles in the way of reaching our goals, but that we have the power to overcome them. In other words, go the second mile – exceed expectations and have the courage to deviate from the status quo.

What should delegates be excited about at this year’s conference?

We have a diverse range of speakers, workshops, competitions and networking opportunities in store for them.

The debate competition, sponsored by Deloitte, is a new feature of the conference this year, and will focus on bioinformatics, that is, dealing with the vast amounts of data generated by techniques such as genome sequencing. The case competition, sponsored by Accenture and Citi, has a new spin this year, with a focus on financial technology (fintech).

We have also doubled the number of sponsor companies attending this year, which means ample networking opportunities at the career fair.  This also means double the number of workshops, where delegates will have the opportunity to learn about topics related to energy and automation, blockchain technology and career building.

The past year has seen a very public conversation about gender dynamics in the workplace. How will recent events impact discussion at the conference this year?

There will definitely be discussion on this. For example, Ceridian will be hosting a workshop about their promise, “Makes Work Life Better,” where delegates will have an opportunity to learn about ways to ensure that the interests and well-being of all employees are supported, including programs and policies related to diversity, inclusion and support for women.

Why did you want to become the chair of this conference? Why are you passionate about the issues WISE engages with?

I have been a part of the WISE U of T Chapter for five years and have had the opportunity to lead the high school outreach initiative and secure sponsorships to support our events.  I have attended the WISE National Conference for many years and I wanted to be a part of planning it this year.

It was actually a presentation from the WISE U of T Chapter at my high school that helped me choose to pursue engineering. Now, as the conference chair, I am honoured to pay it forward with the hope that this conference will provide an opportunity for others to be inspired in the same way that I was.

This story was originally published on U of T Engineering News

Brenda McCabe elected Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada

Professor Brenda McCabe (CivE) is among 20 new inductees into the Engineering Institute of Canada.

Professor Brenda McCabe (CivE) has been elected a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC). Each year a select number of engineers nationwide are chosen by EIC for this honour in recognition of exceptional contributions to engineering in Canada.

Professor McCabe has a distinguished record of achievement and service as an educator and an administrative leader. In 2006, she was appointed vice-dean, graduate studies — the Faculty’s first woman vice-dean. In that role, she championed a new series of ELITE (Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Innovation, and Technology in Engineering) courses that are now integral to the MEng curriculum. In 2008, McCabe was appointed chair of the Department of Civil Engineering — U of T Engineering’s first woman department chair. During her term, she worked to further increase the department’s profile, improve the student experience, integrate sustainability into the curriculum, revitalize the Gull Lake Survey Camp, and promote a sense of community amongst students, alumni, faculty and staff.

Beyond the University, McCabe is a role model and mentor to young women in her field of construction engineering and a leader in her professional community. She has held several leadership roles within the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE), serving as vice-president, technical divisions and committees and chair of the construction division. McCabe is a Fellow of CSCE and received their Award of Excellence in 2005. She has also garnered several awards for her contributions to engineering education, including the Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada Recognition Award and the University of Toronto Joan E. Foley Quality of Student Experience Award.

“Professor Brenda McCabe has made exceptional contributions to the Faculty and to her professional community as an engineer, educator and academic leader,”said Cristina Amon, Dean of U of T Engineering. “On behalf of our Faculty, heartfelt congratulations on this well-deserved recognition.”

This story originally appeared on U of T Engineering News by Marit Mitchell.

Preparing the next generation of engineering leaders to grow Africa’s megacities sustainably

Posted originally on U of T News | May 30th, 2017 by Tyler Irving

Left to right: Rahim Rezaie (U of T Engineering), Erastus M. Mwanaumo (Assistant Dean, School of Engineering, University of Zambia) and Professor Murray Metcalfe (U of T Engineering) at the University of Zambia. A partnership between U of T Engineering and various institutions in Africa aims to prepare the engineering leaders who will build the world’s fastest-growing cities.

Today, seven of the world’s 100 largest cities are in Africa. But by 2050, population models predict that this will rise to 21, and eventually reach 40 by the end of the century. By then, Africa will be home to five of the world’s ten largest cities, each with more than 50 million residents. That’s why U of T Engineering postdoctoral researcher Nadine Ibrahim (CivE) is delivering lectures to students half a world away.

Educational tools such as massively open online courses (MOOCs) offer a way for Ibrahim and her colleagues to share their expertise in sustainable cities with the students who will lead African cities through the coming transformation.

“There is a lot of infrastructure to be built, and a lot of engineers will be required to build it,” says Professor Murray Metcalfe, who is Professor, Globalization at U of T Engineering and the project director. “That creates a tremendous opportunity for African leaders to drive development that happens in a way that is sustainable, both economically and environmentally.”

Earlier this month, Ibrahim and her colleagues used an online platform to deliver a course on sustainable cities to a group of students at the African Leadership University in Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean. Instructors were spread across four locations — Toronto, Oshawa, Boston and Mauritius — and at one point the students had to deal with torrential rains that kept them confined to their dorms, but the pilot project was deemed a success.

The three-day course served as the first test of the team’s larger and more ambitious goal: to develop scalable online courses that will help prepare the next generation of engineering leaders building sustainable cities across the entire African continent.

Ibrahim is adapting material from a course she teaches to undergraduate and graduate students at U of T: CIV 577 Infrastructure for Sustainable Cities. “The course challenges students to design an urban area, such as the port lands of Toronto, through to the year 2050,” she says. “This year students selected eight cities, including Cape Town and Dar es Salaam. It was very successful, and allowed us to see that this would work with students around the world.”

The team has spent the last several months laying the groundwork for a strong network of local partners across the African continent. Last summer, Ibrahim and PhD candidates Kirstin Newfield (CivE) and Antoine Despres-Bedward (OISE) travelled to institutions in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. They also attended a conference organized by the African Virtual University, an online-only institution based in Dakar, Senegal and Nairobi, Kenya.

Left to right: Professor Jackoniah Odumbe (Centre for Online and Distance Learning), Antoine Despres-Bedward (OISE ), Kirstin Newfield (U of T Enginering), Nadine Ibrahim (U of T Engineering), Professor James Nyangaya (Mechanical Engineering), Professor David Otieno Koteng (Civil and Construction Engineering), Professor Ernest Odhiambo (Mechanical Engineering) at the University of Nairobi in Kenya.

A few months later, Metcalfe and research associate Rahim Rezaie followed up with a trip to institutions in Zambia, South Africa, Ghana and Ethiopia, and participated in the African Engineering Education Association Conference.“Everywhere we went, we looked at the student populations and the online capabilities,” says Ibrahim. “We tried to imagine what a virtual global classroom, and eventually a virtual lab, would look like. Everyone we talked to was excited about the project.”Among other collaborators on the project are Professor Brent Sleep (CivE), who is the principal investigator on a Connaught Global Challenge Award grant that will fund various aspects of the project, Professor Greg Evans (ChemE) and Professor Dan Hoornweg (UOIT and adjunct in CivE). The team has also received support from the Dean’s Strategic Fund and the U of T Learning and Education Advancement Fund (LEAF).

Building on the success of the pilot course, the team is now working on the first two small private online courses (SPOCs) they plan to deliver starting in early 2018. Involving academics at African partner universities in co-developing the course content is central to the team’s approach. The courses will be a mix of live instruction, recorded lectures and assignments that can be completed online.

Metcalfe says that the rapid pace of growth in Africa offers a chance to leapfrog over some of the technologies that have hindered sustainability in the developed world. “The analogy everyone points to is cell phones,” says Metcalfe. “In India and Africa, they have skipped right over land lines and elaborate telecom switches to something with a smaller footprint. We think African cities can do something similar in urban infrastructure.”

But for Ibrahim, the most inspiring part has been the students. “Whatever the challenges, they make it work,” she says. “Their hunger for knowledge is very motivating.”

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