The project I am working on is an investigation on the addition of microorganisms into concrete mixtures. Civil Engineering is a very broad discipline with lots of challenges on all scales. That's why thinking innovatively is the solution. In my project, microbiology and material science are combined to develop a new material that is more sustainable while solving a problem the concrete industry faces. There are many research opportunities in the Department and it's a great experience to be part of it.
This past summer I participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering (SURE) program, a paid four-month research term from May to August. I joined this program because I was considering whether I should pursue graduate studies and wanted to try out some research work over one summer before committing. My project involved concrete carbonation – a process that is used to sequester carbon dioxide while simultaneously making more durable concrete. The work was performed under the supervision of a professor and I also met many graduate students working in the same lab. It was a great opportunity to talk and connect with people who have been through the same road that I am on. When I first started the research, much of the theory was new to me and I needed to do a lot of literature review. It was a challenge to dive head-first into a new topic, and it was an independent project so I was responsible for every step of the way. This meant everything from setting up the apparatus to analyzing the results. Even a seemingly simple setup can run into plenty of problems, forcing me to make decisions and solve problems on the fly. At the same time, the wide responsibility allowed for a wide view of all the effort that goes into conducting a research project, deepening my appreciation for this line of work. Overall the experience was very useful to me, and I would definitely recommend the SURE program to anyone considering graduate school or wanting to pursue a career in research.
I spent the summer as an undergraduate researcher/technician for two projects in steel structural design: shear tab behaviour in beam-to-column connections under shear and axial compression loads, and cold-formed steel (CFS) sheathed shear walls for seismic/wind resistance in mid-rise CFS buildings. My days were spent bringing designs to life using various hand and power tools, installing specimens into testing frames, and installing and calibrating measuring instruments such as LVDTs (displacement), Inclinometers (rotation) and strain gauges (local strain). I also started to work with finite element analysis software (Abaqus), used to model and predict the behaviour of structural systems. I enjoyed the hands-on nature of the work. It's easy to get lost in pin-connected, straight-lined theoretical buildings of our assignments, so handling the real, heavy and often imperfect members of our test structures was a nice reality check. It's rewarding to spent long days physically bringing your designs to life (and to destroy them afterwards). I've extended my work with the research team through the fall semester.
The research I helped to work on focused on estimating the losses on residential building due to an earthquake in Montreal. My job was to collect population and residential data from the 2011 Census Data and the 2016 Assessment Roll. A software called Hazus will be used to estimate the losses due to an earthquake. In order to obtain accurate results, enough information about the region in evaluation has to be entered. Thus, I had to collect specific information about the population such as the number of male and female per age group, number of people by ethnicity, and number of households by income. Each of these data was given by Dissemination Area which is the smallest division containing 400 to 700 people. There are approximately 6520 Dissemination Areas in Montreal. Similarly, the information in the Assessment Roll were also divided in Dissemination Area. The Assessment Roll gives information on all the buildings in Montreal, but we were interested only in residential buildings such as unifamilial, duplex, triplex, and multiplex. After I had gathered the residential building information, I used MapInfo to map the information. I got conclusive maps which helped me visualize the information. I could see regions containing more modern houses compared to other regions were most houses were constructed before 1960. In this research, I learned about seismicity, how to use different softwares such as MapInfo and Access, and how to interpret different kinds of results. I really enjoyed my SURE experience and at the end, I was satisfied with my work. I thank Professor Chouinard and Philippe Rosset for guiding me through this research.
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