On November 28th, Mr. Raj Singh, the lead of McElhanney Bridge Engineering Group presented the fascinating details of his latest project – the Atal Setu in India. The presentation covered an overview of the project, justifications of some of the design decisions and the construction process. This 592m long cable stayed bridge is the first of its kind in North India and due to its rural location posed some interesting challenges. Mr. Singh outlined the process and differences, particularly in construction, between large infrastructure projects in North America versus other countries, such as India. The presentation was a great mix of technical, design based information and exposure to the social aspects associated with construction projects.

The chapter would again like to thank Raj Singh and Fraser Peterson for taking the time to share their experiences and extensive knowledge on bridge construction.









Raj Singh, P.Eng, P.E. : Market Sector Lead for Bridges at McElhanney

After completing a masters in Civil Engineering at University of Massachusetts in 2001, Raj worked as a design engineer on long span bridges with URS’s center of technical excellence at Tampa, Florida.  Subsequently, he gained experience in design-build projects working with Buckland & Taylor with significant involvement in the land structures for the Golden Ears Bridge project. In 2008 he initiated Infinity Engineering; a specialty firm involved in the design and construction engineering of complex and long span bridges. In 2014, Infinity joined with McElhanney Consulting; a medium sized transportation engineering firm in Western Canada.  As the Division Manager, Raj now leads the bridge engineering group at McElhanney.

When: November 21, 2017 (Tuesday); 12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Where: CEME 1204

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Event Coordinator: Kevin Parrish

On November 21, 2017, the UBC CSCE welcomed Julie Howgate to the campus to provide a presentation on effective communication in public speaking. The event covered details from scripting a presentation up to speaking, and gave many useful tips on how to give your presentation more passion and conviction. On top of this, the event also discussed the importance of effective listening. The advice for speakers included details such as expressing your points through body language, emphasizing how the topic affects the audience, and how important tone is when speaking. The three main questions Julie recommended asking yourself while developing a presentation are:

  1. What do I want to talk about?
  2. Why do I want to talk about it?
  3. Why is it important, to both me and the audience?

These three points should act as a guide in presenting, and ensure that the speaker remains relevant to the audience. The practical advice will surely improve the presentation skills of those who attended, and the chapter would like to again thank Julie Howgate for providing the workshop for the chapter.


Presenter Bio:

Julie Howgate is a Public Speaking Coach and Instructor at the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts, and has facilitated for hugely successful organizations such as TEDX East Van, UBC Science & Engineering Dept, Peak Potentials, Master Training, Warrior Sage and World Luminaries among others. She is no stranger to working with individuals and groups and has been a speaker coach and acting teacher to over a thousand students from all walks of life for over a decade.

When: November 15, 2017 (Wednesday); 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.

Where: Geography Building Room 101

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Technical writing is a tremendously valuable skill to have, whether you’re a student contributing to a group project document or a fresh grad writing design reports. This presentation features general tips for effective technical writing from an editor’s perspective paired with advice on improving technical writing in science and engineering from the perspective of a writer and senior reviewer.

We will have two guest speakers from Golder Associates joining us on Wednesday to talk about technical writing:
Claire Fossey, Technical Writer and Editor; and
Gary Lawrence, Environmental Scientist.

As usual, please RSVP by clicking “going” so we can get enough food for everyone!

When: November 14th, 2017

Where: Vancouver Convention Centre

Coordinator: Taylan Jarvis

The Wood Solutions Conference occurred on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 as a one day educational event at the Vancouver Convention Centre and showcased wood use in commercial, institutional, industrial and multi-unit residential construction. The event gathered over 800 architects, engineers, builders, contractors, building officials, technologists, planners and developers to listen, learn, collaborate, and connect.

Students interested in attending the conference were provided with tremendous value, since the conference organizers agreed to allow UBC CSCE Student Chapter members to attend the event at a significantly discounted price.

Once at the conference, students had the opportunity to select from 30 different presentations and a variety of trade show vendors – with each individual presentation and vendor varying in its respective level of technical expertise. The most appealing aspect of the conference was the variety in speakers, topics, and presentations. As a result, students were able to select the presentations that they found most interesting and this allowed for the creation of a very personalized experience that was both entertaining and educational.

Michael Green, designer of the Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George, BC and Principal of Michael Green Architecture, gave an effective keynote address that focused primarily on mass timber construction from a global perspective, and that emphasised a need for industry and local professionals to continue to push the envelope of mass timber construction in Canadian cities.

The Wood Solutions Conference was a tremendously successful event and students with an interest in wood and mass-timber design and construction should consider attending this conference in the future! Thank you again to the coordinators of the conference for providing such a large discount to our members.


When: November 7th (Tuesday), 12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Where: Peter A. Allard School of Law, Room 106

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Event Coordinator: Connor Ferster

On November 7, 2017, the UBC CSCE welcomed Greg Nichvalodoff, a local business coach specializing in organizational and leadership development, to the UBC campus. Greg provided a presentation on the topic of leadership, in particular how young engineers entering the industry can apply the concepts of effective leadership in their entry level roles. The workshop emphasized the universally applicable concepts of leadership that may be considered as only necessary to higher level positions, but actually have a large impact at all tiers of an organization. Greg’s use of anecdotes and analogies made the workshop as entertaining as it was helpful, and he touched on many practicable actions and attitudes that can contribute to stronger leadership. For further details on the topics covered in the workshop, Greg recommends the following reading:

  1. The Leadership Challenge
  2. The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team
  3. Difficult Conversations
  4. Crucial Conversation
  5. Work Types
  6. Effective Coaching

The UBC CSCE would like to thank Greg Nichvalodoff and Inscape Consulting Group  for the insightful workshop. For further information about Greg and Inscape Consulting Group, visit the webpage or follow him on LinkedIn.

Where: CEME 2202

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Event Coordinator: Trevor Jones

On October 27, 2017, the UBC CSCE welcomed guests from RAM Engineering and Fortis BC to UBC campus to provide a presentation on a gas line twinning project taking place between Coquitlam and Vancouver.

Vancouver has grown rapidly since the majority of Vancouver’s natural gas transmission system was built in the 1950’s and 1960’s. FortisBC is embarking on a major project to upgrade its natural gas system including an 11km twinning between Surrey and Coquitlam that will address system capacity and add operational resilience.

The project presented many technical challenges to the group, including working through environmentally sensitive areas as well as vying for space in crowded utility corridors. The presentation discussed the design challenges and successes such as trenchless technologies that were used. Also, the talk addressed how the project team has overcome construction challenges in completing this $100M project in one year.

The project, The Lower Mainland Intermediate Pressure System Upgrade, will provide much more reliability and capacity to the network, supplying the growing demand of the communities it connects. We would like to again thank Joe Di Placito, Nick Richardson,and Karen Coldham for providing this insightful presentation to our members.


Joe Di Placito is a Project Manager and Partner at RAM who graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Civil Engineering. He is a registered Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) with APEGBC and a Project Management Professional (PMP) with the Project Management Institute. He has worked with public and private project owners on traditional and design-build undertakings throughout BC and the Caribbean. Joe has extensive experience leading complex multi-discipline projects from design to construction. Successful notable project experience is the Canada Line cut-and-cover, South Fraser Perimeter Road (Highway 17) and FortisBC’s Lower Mainland System Upgrade Program.

Karen Coldham is a Project Engineer in the Pipelines Engineering group at FortisBC Energy Inc. She received her Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alberta in 2011 and is a registered Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) with APEGBC. Since graduation, Karen has worked as a project engineer, designing and constructing gas lines throughout Alberta and British Columbia. She is currently working on the Lower Mainland System Upgrade Program which involves upgrading and replacing approximately 30km of natural gas lines in the Lower Mainland to continue to meet the needs of FortisBC’s customers.

Nick Richardson is a Project Engineer in the Construction Management group at RAM. He received a Bachelor of Applied Science in Civil Engineering from the University of British Columbia in 2014. Nick is a registered Engineer in Training (EIT) with EGBC working towards his Professional Engineer (P.Eng) designation. His project experience includes the South Fraser Perimeter Road in Delta BC and the JACOS Hangingstone Expansion Project in Fort McMurray Alberta. Nick is currently working as part of the Construction Management team for the FortisBC Coastal Transmission System Upgrade Project.


When: October 27th, 2017, 11:30 A.M. – 1:30 P.M.

When: October 14th (Saturday), 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Where: Ruskin Dam and Powerhouse

Costs: Free. Transportation will be provided. The group will leave UBC at 9 a.m..

RSVP: E-mail ubc.csce@gmail.com to confirm attendance

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Event Coordinator: Janice Lau

On October 14, 2017, a group of 16 students took a tour of the Ruskin Dam and powerhouse upgrade Project. On site, the tour was given by three hosts, including one from each of BC Hydro, Flatiron, and Dragados, which gave great perspective of the different aspects of the project. The purpose of the $700 million upgrade is to increase the safety of the dam, particularly in terms of seismic performance, ensure better flow, and enhance water spill prevention. The Ruskin Dam is a major piece of infrastructure in Vancouver, providing the city with power for over 80 years.

Our students were fitted with high-vis fire resistant overalls, essential safety gear for entering the powerhouse. The engineers explained the challenges they have encountered throughout the project resulting in unexpected contractual problems and delays. For instance, at least one section of the spillway must be functioning at all times and this meant that works done on the spillway must be carefully planned and specific methodologies to be used to ensure worker safety. Another surprise the project encountered was discovering a rail track used to transport materials when the dam was first built embedded in the side slope of the dam. This led to further delays and addition work to remove this rail.

Overall, this was an eye opening tour to see one of Vancouver’s major infrastructure projects, especially the magnitude of water spilling out of the dam and the proximity of the construction to the operating dam sections. 

When: October 10th, 2017 (Tuesday), 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Where: UBC Engineering Student Centre (2335 Engineering Road, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4)

Costs: CA$5 – CA$35

Register here.

This event is co-hosted by the CSCE Vancouver Chapter and the UBC CSCE Student Chapter.

On October 10, 2017, The UBC CSCE welcomed Senator Professor Rosa Galvez to the UBC campus to present on the Lac-Mégantic Train Derailment and the efforts made to remediate the impacts to this community and the environment. This was a stop of the CSCE National Lecture Tour (NLT), and was coordinated in conjunction with the CSCE Vancouver Section in early October this year.

The Lac-Mégantic train derailment and fire on July 6, 2013 was a human catastrophe and an environmental disaster. A runaway train containing 74 rail cars of light crude oil derailed and caught fire. The explosions and fire killed 47 residents and destroyed over 30 buildings. This was the deadliest rail accident in Canada since 1864. Approximately 6.3 million litres of oil was released into the environment, creating air, water and soil contamination.

The event brought together industry professionals and students for an opportunity to learn about the Disaster from an engineer who is an expert in site restoration, groundwater contamination, and disaster remediation. As well as a valuable resource for professional knowledge, the lecture was followed by a reception that facilitated networking and discussion amongst the engineers and students who attended.

Presenter Bio:

Senator Professor Rosa Galvez is an expert in environmental impact and risk evaluation, contaminated site restoration and groundwater contaminant transport. She was appointed to the Canadian Senate in December 2016. She is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Water Engineering at Laval University, Quebec

On September 26, UBC CSCE hosted Keith Kirkwood from COWI Engineering to present on the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge project located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is the sister bridge of the Lions Gate Bridge in Downtown Vancouver. As the deck had reached the end of its functional lifespan COWI was hired to renovate the bridge deck. The first major challenge Keith highlighted was how they plan to replace the deck while keeping the bridge completely open for drivers. The solution the contractors used was to cut sections of the deck during the weekend and overnight, lowering it by rail crane into the river below where it would be moved out of the way and the new deck would be raised in place and connected to the existing deck for traffic to run the next day. the next issue was raising the bridge deck 3m in the center to allow bigger ships to pass underneath into the dock, which they corrected by adjusting the hangers connecting the deck to the main line of the suspension bridge. Due to the nature of the project COWI designed the entire erection engineering process and monitored it with continuous simulations. Overall the lecture provided great insight on the challenges one can face while renovating a bridge and practical solutions to those problems. We would like to again thank Kieth Kirkwood for providing this presentation for our student members.