2016 CSCE President's Award Photo

The 2016 CSCE Annual Conference took place at Ontario, Canada, between June 1st and 4th. Our representative at the conference, Kevin Parrish, wrote about his experience there. 

2016 CSCE President's Award Photo

Kevin Parrish (middle), representative of our Student Chapter at the 2016 CSCE Conference, received the President’s Award (second place) from Tony Begin (left), the President of the CSCE Board of Directors, and Charles-Darwin Annan (right), the Chair of the CSCE Student Affairs Committee.


This years Annual Conference was held in London, Ontario, at the London Convention Center from June 1st to June 4th. It was a beautifully warm and sunny stretch of days, and the conference brought together over 600 students, young professionals, and experienced engineers from the civil engineering industry. The conference was extremely well choreographed with a variety events occurring continuously for the four day duration. This year, the theme and focal point, resilient infrastructure, brought sustainability to the forefront of civil engineering by emphasizing the value and importance of designing and building with the future in mind.
The many features of the conference can be categorized into four main areas, with interspersed networking and learning opportunities as well. Keynote speakers, workshops, presentations, and social events all helped to create an interesting and entertaining four days. The speakers at the events covered an array of topics, drawing on personal experience, research, and business endeavours to share their passions with the audience. From structural to transportation and from wind to water treatment, the conference covered all facets of civil engineering in one all-encompassing series of events.


Four Keynote Speakers

  • Dr. Terri McAllister – Tools & Guidance for Resilient Infrastructure
  • Dr. Michael Fenn – The Future is Not What It Used to be
  • Dr. Ian Burgess – Connection Behaviour and the Robustness of Steel-Framed Structures in Fire
  • Dr. Dennis Millette – The Lac-Megantic Disaster and Emergency Remediation

Workshops for Students and Young Professionals

  • Career planning
  • Resilient infrastructure
  • Student Leadership

Technical Papers and Presentations

  • Approximately 400 technical papers from across Canada
  • Highlighted in 15 minute presentations
  • Presentations took place concurrently throughout the 4 day conference

Social and Networking Events

  • Toboggan Brewery Pub Night – June 1
  • Palasad Social Night – June 2
  • Labatt Brewery and Escape Room – June 3



Wednesday, June 1st
On Wednesday morning I flew out of Vancouver at 9:30am on my way to Toronto International Airport, looking forward to my first time in Ontario and excited to make my way to the conference. The flight landed in Toronto at around 4:30pm, a four hour flight coupled with a three hour time difference. The timing was ideal, with my connecting flight to London boarding at 5:30. From Toronto International, London is only a twenty minute flight. This short flight got me to the London airport at about 7:00, meaning I was able to check in to my hotel downtown by 7:30.
The London Convention Center is conveniently close to the Holiday Inn I stayed at, and once I had gotten cleaned up I walked the three blocks to the convention center. The first networking evening was already underway at the Center, so after going through registration I had my first chance to meet some new people and mingle with the crowd. At around 9:30pm a large group split off from the convention center and made their way to the Toboggan Brewery, so after a quick stop at the hotel I followed suit.
While at the pub I met with a bunch of students from various universities across Canada, however eastern universities had a much stronger presence due to this year’s location. This was the first chance to meet other students and recent grads outside of the more professional conference setting. At the end of the night several of us staying at the Holiday Inn walked back to the hotel as a large group around mid night.


Thursday, June 2nd
To start off the second day of the conference I went to the first workshop, which was in the form of a panel discussion about career development at 9:30am. Even just the three hour time difference was enough to disrupt my sleep pattern, and I was unable to make the first keynote speaker that began the day at 8. The workshop was quite informative, with the panel comprised of four civil engineers with differing career paths, ranging from under 10 to over 40 years of experience. The group answered questions regarding their own careers as well as providing thoughts on the future of the industry.
At 11:00am there was a choice of ten different sets of four 15 minute presentations, I attended four on the topic of waste water management and zero liquid discharge technologies. These presentations introduced me to some technologies I hadn’t learned about in my recent courses, improving my knowledge in the area.
The second key note speaker presented during the lunch break between 12:00 and 2:00pm, discussing topics related to environmental change and the necessary adaptations required in civil engineering practices. The speech focussed particularly on water resource management and new treatment technologies with related case studies that showed the real world implications of his work.
After lunch I attended another four 15 minute presentations focussed on wood structures, describing some of the newest technologies and advances in timber design. Afterwards, I returned to the hotel to catch up on some work. I also took an hour or so for a quick workout at the local YMCA, with a pass courteously provided by Holiday Inn.
For the evening, both industry professionals and senior engineers as well as students and young professionals gathered together at the Palasad restaurant and bar for a night of bowling, pool, arcade games, and socializing. It was a crowd of almost 400, and the entire evening was covered by our registration, giving us a great time to get acquainted with the many new faces.
Friday, June 3rd
During the third breakfast keynote speech Dr. Ian Burgess spoke about his research on the topic of steel structural reactions to fire, describing the method that his company had developed to simplify the modelling process. One of the more technical keynotes, Dr. Burgess discussed the research and testing that his team had done to develop the new model. The results of the study provided a model that significantly improved on the methods used previously.
The first of the following two presentation sessions centered around the topics of wind engineering, particularly the effects of tornadoes on engineered structures. A large portion of this research had been done in London at Western University where students have access to a state of the art wind tunnel testing facility. The second presentation focussed on technological advances in intelligent transportation. This included the rise of interconnected vehicles and infrastructure and different techniques of gathering information on driver behaviour. The ultimate goal of this research aims to provide smoother transportation experiences through adaptive infrastructure.
The lunch break for this day featured the student awards, including president’s best chapters, top capstone projects, as well as best papers submitted. Out of the 24 student chapters across Canada, the first and second place awards for president’s best chapters were both given to Vancouver area universities; BCIT and UBC, respectively. As the representative of the UBC student chapter I accepted the award, joining on stage the Chair of the CSCE Student Affairs Committee, Charles-Darwin Annan, and the President of the CSCE Board of Directors, Tony Begin, to be given a plaque and have our photo taken.
After the lunch break, all the student chapter representatives from across Canada joined together for a student leader workshop, in which we identified prevalent issues facing the many chapters and brainstormed ideas to help the growth of the CSCE in the student body. Many of the ideas will be very beneficial to the continued growth of the UBC chapter, covering topics such as increased membership in younger students and greater collaboration with student clubs and teams.
To end the day, over 40 students and young professionals from the conference toured the Labatt brewery, founded in London, Ontario in 1847. The tour was capped off by sampling many of the different beers brewed at location in the brewery’s on-site tasting room. Following the tour, the group made our way to an escape room, testing or wits in a race to crack the riddles and escape within an hour. Out of five groups in different rooms, many managed to puzzle their way out, however our group was the fastest and made our way through in 54 minutes. To finish off the night, the entire group went to pub in downtown London for dinner and drinks into the evening.
Friday, June 4th
The last day of the conference, several events were still left in the program, however I flew back mid day so I spent the morning packing and preparing to leave. After checking out of the Holiday Inn I still had a few hours to kill before my flight. I took the opportunity to explore the Western University campus, spending a couple hours wandering around and seeing what there was to offer. The campus has a much older feel to it then UBC, with many of the buildings made of brick with antiquated architectural styles.
My flight from London left at 3:30pm, and the connection in Toronto was another smooth transition. Clear skies and sunshine across most of Canada made for many stunning views. I began writing during the flight and had some time to gather my thoughts and reflect on the conference experience. The many different presentations had given me a taste of the continuing advancement throughout the civil engineering field, and all presented by individuals at the cutting edge of their disciplines. Not only did I accept the award for UBC’s chapter, but I also had the chance to learn and develop with the many other student chapters from across Canada. The experience provided invaluable advice for the future of our chapter. The ongoing success of the UBC CSCE student chapter will surely benefit from having student representatives at these annual conferences, and next year’s conference in Vancouver will be an excellent opportunity for UBC to continue refining our reputation and building our success.



Student Leaders Workshop


President's Best Second Place

Coordinator: Farinaz Moayedi, Neda Naderi

On March 22nd, 2016, the UBC CSCE Student Chapter was proud to welcome back Paul Fast, founder of Fast and Epp, to discuss designing the world’s tallest timber building on UBC’s Vancouver campus.DSC_7115

Mr. Fast started off by going through the timeline of the project, from finding the partners involved to getting a special permit for building such a structure. The design process between the architects and engineers were thoroughly explained. Mr. Fast then talked about the constraints that govern the design and construction of this building. These complications were mostly because of the special requirements that were needed in the building code to accommodate an 18 story timber structure, which is the first of its kind in Canada.


The presentation was followed through with some detailed aspects of the building such as the unique wood connections, the use of concrete on the atrium floor and the prototype testing to find the best and safest possible method for the detailed design. The presentation was concluded by showing the current status of construction, which is underway, and some questions from the audience.


We would like to thank Paul Fast for sharing his experience on designing the world’s tallest timber building.

Event Coordinator: Naomi Hoque, Kanav Trehan


On March 8, 2016, the UBC CSCE Student Chapter partnered up with IGEN to welcome Jason Block, Senior Business Development Manager, and Ross Gilmour, Pursuit Manager, to present about major upcoming projects for Kiewit. The event also featured Alex Hutchenson, a former Kiewit Co-op employee and IGEN student, to share some of his experiences from a student’s perspective.


Most of the projects Jason and Ross spoke about were still under process and in the bidding stage, expected to begin within the next several years. The projects discussed were not limited to local project in British Columbia, but instead spanned all over North America, including projects in Edmonton, Calgary, and the US. For each of the projects, Ross and Jason provided an overview, demographics, cost, and hiring company or companies. They also shared their experience in certain aspects of the projects.  

We would like to thank Jason and Ross for taking the time to share their knowledge, experience, and prospective projects with us. We look forward to coordinating events with Kiewit as well as IGEN in the future to learn more about Kiewit and the opportunities it has to offer. You can find more information about Kiewit and their current projects here.


Event Coordinator: Jasmine Smith
On March 1st, 2016, The UBC CSCE Student Chapter welcomed Hendrik Westerink and Mathew Reynolds to present on two different bridge projects they have worked on. Hendrik and Mathew are Junior Bridge Designers at COWI Bridge North America.

Mathew’s presentation covered some of the main design aspects of a cable-stayed bridge, using the Abraham Lincoln Bridge as an example. The bridge, located in Louisville, Kentucky, forms the downtown crossing of interstate I65 connecting Indiana and Kentucky over the Ohio River. Mathew pointed out some of the key areas that were particularly challenging throughout the project, including the balanced simultaneous cantilever construction required over the three towers.

Hendrik introduced the audience to Bridges to Prosperity, an organization that brings together communities, governments and bridge professionals in developing countries around the world to build footbridges in areas that suffer from rural isolation. Hendrik presented on a footbridge project that he worked on in a small community, Rio Abajo, in Nicaragua. He outlined the project work activities and described how the corporate members collaborated with the community.

We would like to thank Mathew and Hendrik for taking the time to share their knowledge and experiences. We hope to have COWI back again in the future!


Event Coordinator: Cory Sutherland

On March 12, 2016 the UBC CSCE Student Chapter facilitated a site tour of the Ruskin Dam Reconstruction Project in Mission, BC with the joint venture construction team Flatiron-Dragados. The 80 year old BC Hydro dam is currently undergoing seismic upgrades to both the dam and powerhouse structures by constructing new concrete piers, installing new spillway gates, upgrading the powerhouse and water conveyance system (intakes and penstocks), and constructing a new bridge over the dam.

 Two field engineers from Flatiron Construction hosted the tour and led us through both the dam and powerhouse structures, explaining the various stages involved in replacing an existing concrete dam. Much of the work is performed on the face of the dam, where workers were positioned on several large, engineered platforms attached to the spillway above Hayward Lake. Overall students were fascinated by the construction methods and daily tasks Flatiron field engineers performed to plan and execute the work. The UBC CSCE Student Chapter would like to thank Flatiron Construction for their hospitality, time, and effort in showcasing their extremely complex and interesting project.

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Event Coordinator: Kevin Parrish

On March 3 and 17 the Chapter welcomed Dr. Tom Culham, A Ph.D with over 30 years of engineering experience, to present two seminars on emotional intelligence (EI) and personal ethics. Dr. Culham drew on neuroscience, psychology, and virtue ethics to communicate the importance of EI in personal and business success. The seminars provided a thorough introduction to the concept of EI and its role in everyday interactions.

The first of the seminars focused on EI’s personal applications. Centering on the benefits of being cognizant of your core values, this lecture taught students how to acknowledge their emotions. Dr. Culham also provided tools for decision making and tips for improving listening/informing skills. The second seminar explored the importance of EI in business, including a situational exercise that accurately demonstrated an ethical dilemma, reiterating the practicality of this knowledge.

With entertaining stories and anecdotes, Dr. Culham was able to effectively communicate the ideas behind his work, and the event was well received by all who attended. We would like to thank Dr. Culham for presenting these engaging seminars for the Chapter. For more information on the subject, Dr. Culham’s book “Ethics Education of Business Leaders” is available at the UBC Bookstore.

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When: Saturday, February 27th @ 12PM – 5PM
Where: Henry Angus Building, Room 295
Cost: $300 ($200 for full time students)

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Interested in getting involved in the Green Building Industry? Opportunities are plentiful in the field of sustainable design and LEED is at its forefront.

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For more information and to register for the class please visit the LeadingGreen Website.

Event Coordinator: Trevor Jones, Kevin Wong



On Febrauary 10, 2016, Matthew Sauer, S-Frame Application Engineer, and Marinos Stylianou, S-Frame CEO, came to present to the UBC CSCE Student Chapter on S-Frame software and its multiple applications.

The presentation started off with Marinos talking about the development of S-Frame and the future direction of S-Frame software. He showed how S-Frame software has grown to meet industry needs, from starting with the S-Frame Analysis program to including concrete and steel design programs in their software.

Later, Matthew talked about S-Frame’s different programs and gave some demonstrations of S-Frame software being used in industry. He showed how their software incorporated many different building standards in order to save time and to ensure building code compliancy. In addition, he talked about how S-Frame is constantly updating their programs to ensure accuracy in their calculations.

We would like to thank Mr. Sauer and Mr. Stylianou for taking the time to show our members the importance of design software in civil engineering. We look forward to the next time they come to present. You can find more information about S-Frame at the following link: https://www.s-frame.com/

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Event Coordinator: Eric Watters

On February 3, 2015, the UBC CSCE Student Chapter visited the Armtec precast concrete manufacturing facility in Richmond, BC. The chapter conducts this tour every year courtesy of Jim McKay, the National Contracts Manager for Armtec.

The tour began with a brief site safety overview followed by a walk through the facility yard. Jim showed the group several different types of precast concrete sections including bridge sections, architectural façade used on the Ponderosa building on campus, and a grid-barrier system to insulate workers from high voltage in a smelting facility. Afterwards, Jim took the group into the manufacturing facility to observe the fabrication of precast concrete sections first-hand.

The tour was then brought into the meeting room for a presentation on other Armtec projects, including the Evergreen Skytrain Line, the Thunderbird Parkade, and a massive facility in Kitimat featuring precast concrete columns with specialized moment connections. Jim completed the presentation with some information on the Canadian Precast Concrete Institute and how students can become members for two years.

We would like to thank Mr. McKay for taking our members on the tour once again, and look forward to more tours in the future. You can find more information for the CPCI at their website here.


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Event coordinator: Riley Madu

On January 26th 2016, the UBC CSCE Student Chapter welcomed Sylvie Mercier, Douglas Watts, Justin Li, and Adam Bodlack, from Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd. (RJC). Sylvie, Douglas, Justin, and Adam spoke about their experiences in the Structural, Building Science and Structural Restoration consulting industries.

Sylvie Mercier spoke about her experience in Structural Restoration and Parking Facility design. Douglas Watts spoke about his experiences working as a Building Science consultant on new construction projects, as well as building envelope restoration projects. While Justin Li and Adam Bodlack, both recent UBC Civil Engineering graduates, spoke about their experiences on both structural and building science projects.

During the night, the presenters fielded a number of questions from the student audience and gave students the opportunity to network with industry professionals.

During the night, the presenters also spoke about the many consulting services that RJC offers, as well as the technology they use, such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Thermal Imaging and Modeling. They also showcased some of their recent projects.

We would like to thank Sylvie, Douglas, Justin, Adam, and RJC for sharing their experiences in the Structural, Building Science, and Structural Restoration consulting industries.