Undergraduate Research: Civil Engineering

Click on the title for full description of SURE 2017 projects in Civil Engineering.

CIVIL-001: Design of an Advanced Traveler General Information System (ATGIS)
Professor: Omid M. Rouhani
E-mail: omid [dot] rouhani [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-431-7178

Research Area: Transportation engineering


Description: Despite substantial transportation costs borne by society, our knowledge is limited around how transportation users value benefits of energy-efficient choices that can reduce fuel consumption, greenhouse gas (GHG), and other emissions. In this regard, I propose the advanced traveler general information system (ATGIS), a scheme which can estimate and provide the travel cost data to travelers that they currently do not have. The ATGIS targets a transformative change in transportation energy use by altering travel behavior and by raising users’ awareness about energy and environmental footprints of their trips. The ultimate goal of this research is to conduct a pilot study on the feasibility and potential of an ATGIS for Canadian cities. As part of this NSERC-funded project, our research team will attempt to provide the insights about the behavior of users required for simulating users’ travel choice when fuel and emissions costs are provided. The goal is to collect data on attitudes toward the risks associated with more energy-intensive choices and exposure to emissions.

Tasks: With the help of the undergraduate students, we will conduct a survey on users’ perceived fuel and emissions costs, promoting a change in users’ awareness about these costs.

Deliverables: One report summarizing the results of the survey, in addition to learning about data collection

Number of positions:  3
Academic Level: No preference

CIVIL-002: Seismic performance of steel I-shape brace members and tension resistance of steel I-shape members
Professor: Colin Rogers
E-mail: colin [dot] rogers [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-6449

Research Area: Structural engineering


Description: The planned research involves two programs, the first of which is the testing of full-scale hot-rolled steel I-shape (W-section) braces under simulated seismic loading. The concern is with the influence of the brace connection detailing on the ductile performance of the lateral load carrying system especially for the conventional construction category. Designers have little information with which to define the ductility of this lateral framing system for seismic design. The intent is to evaluate the performance of representative connections/braces to calibrate finite element models and ultimately to develop needed design provisions. The second research project comprises a study on the block-shear failure mode for I-shape tension members. Even though the current design rules for this failure mode are considered to be applicable to these members, no testing to verify the need for this design requirement has ever been carried out on this shape of section. The research will include laboratory testing on tension specimens of various configurations to measure the response to axial load and the influence of connection details on the failure mode. The resulting test data will be used to validate current design provisions. The SURE students will be members of a research team composed of Master’s students.

Tasks: The role of the SURE students is to provide support for the graduate students responsible for these research projects. They will prepare the laboratory for testing including installation of test apparati. In addition, they will assemble and instrument test specimens, install test specimens into the loading frame, set up instrumentation for measurements, and run the tests. They will also be given the opportunity to learn the basics of finite element analysis of steel structures. Having an ASP Health and Safety on Construction Sites course certificate is advised.

Deliverables: Successful completion of the laboratory test programs.

Number of positions:  2
Academic Level: Year 3

CIVIL-003: Improved mixing in engines to reduced NOX
Professor: Susan Gaskin
E-mail: susan [dot] gaskin [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-426-8041

Research Area: Hydraulics and fluid mechanics


Description: Although recent developments at the international level aim for increasing renewables and phasing out reliance on hydrocarbons, for the shorter term hydrocarbon fuels are expected to remain part of the energy mix. However, the pollutant emissions resulting from the combustion process have detrimental environmental and human health effects. Aero derivative gas turbines are currently used for energy provision and the next generation of engines will need to comply with more stringent pollutant emission legislation particularly for NOX levels in exhaust gases. Reduced levels of NOX are achieved by improved by lower flame temperatures and improved mixing. In this project a simplified hydraulic model will be used to the effect of various parameter on the premixing effectiveness in typical engines. In the larger project both mixing and flow dynamics will be studied using laser induced fluorescence (LIF) and particle image velocimetry (PIV).

Tasks: Collaborate with a Masters student running the experimental tests on the test rig. Student 1: the mixing tests using laser induced fluorescence Student 2: the fluid dynamics tests using particle tracking velocimetry

Deliverables: Student 1: To calibrate and validate the mixing studies using LIF on the test rig. Student 2: To calibrate and validate the flow dynamics studies using PIV on the test rig.

Number of positions:  2
Academic Level: Year 3

CIVIL-004: Experiments on Reinforced Concrete Bridge Pier Caps
Professor: Denis Mitchell
E-mail: denis [dot] mitchell [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514 398-6859

Research Area: Structural Engineering


Description: Bridge pier cap beams are important structural elements that provide the supporting transition from the bridge superstructure to the piers. The pier caps support concentrated reactions from the bridge girders resulting in a complex flow of stresses in the pier cap. Many pier caps in existing bridges have been found to be deficient and require strengthening. Large-scale reinforced concrete bridge pier caps will be constructed in the structures laboratory. These test specimens will be instrumented with strain gauges to determine the stresses in the reinforcing bars. The specimens will be loaded to failure to determine the complete response of these important elements. Companion specimens will be strengthened using external post-tensioning. These tests will determine the effectiveness of strengthening methods.

Tasks: Construction and instrumentation of test specimens. Testing of pier caps to failure.

Deliverables: Sure poster to be prepared.

Number of positions:  2
Academic Level: Year 2

CIVIL-005: Ozone treatment to increase sustainable energy recovery and reduce biosolids production by anaerobic digestion of waste sludge
Professor: Dominic Frigon
E-mail: dominic [dot] frigon [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-2475

Research Area: Environmental engineering, environmental biotechnology, wastewater treatment


Description: Disposal of biosolids produced during activated sludge wastewater treatment bears serious environmental concerns with important financial implications. Thus, wastewater utilities are obliged to reduce biosolids production, and are turning towards implementation of biosolids minimization technologies. One of the technologies of choice is anaerobic methanogenic digestion of waste activated sludge (WAS), but utilities still want to reduce further the biosolids production. This is an opportunity to improve the energy yield from anaerobic digestion and increase the sustainability of wastewater treatment. The goal of this project is to use ozonation of solids to improve the anaerobic degradation kinetics and the energy yield.

Tasks: Perform the daily maintenance and sampling of the laboratory-scale reactors. Perform laboratory analyses to determine physico-chemical characteristics of samples. Contribute to computer data entry and trend analyses.

Deliverables: A compilation report of the trends observed during the experiment is expected at the end of the study and an oral presentation during regular group meetings.

Number of positions:  1
Academic Level: Year 2

CIVIL-006: Optimizing activities and controlling antimicrobial resistance during wastewater treatment by understanding microbial transfers between sewer and plant
Professor: Dominic Frigon
E-mail: dominic [dot] frigon [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-2475

Research Area: Environmental engineering, environmental biotechnology, wastewater treatment


Description: The spread of antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) through human communities in due in part to the transfer of these genes between microbial species and communities during the handling and treatment of municipal wastewater/biosolids and animal manures. After disposal, the ARGs rejected in the environment can migrate back to humans via drinking water of food distribution. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms of ARG transfers and the factors limiting them through the water infrastructure is a key in developing control strategies. Engineering approaches to mitigate the dissemination of ARGs through waste handling and treatment are just starting to be assessed. The goal of this project is to develop a testing protocol. The project, for the most part, will take place in the laboratory, with weekly wastewater sampling at a treatment plant. An array of small activated sludge reactors will be operated to test the impact of different operation conditions on the ARG transfer efficiencies. Biomass samples and specific populations cultures will be obtained and from wastewaters and reactors. Then, the species-composition of the community samples and the prevalence of ARGs will be determined by molecular techniques. These will include high-throughput sequencing analysis and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Training in molecular techniques will be provided.

Tasks: Operation of reactors and performing chemical analyses, isolation of bacteria, extraction of DNA, performing PCR, contribution to the compilation and interpretation of the data.

Deliverables: A compilation report of the trends observed during the experiment is expected at the end of the study and an oral presentation during regular group meetings.

Number of positions:  1
Academic Level: Year 2

CIVIL-007: Reliability analysis procedures for aging structures
Professor: Luc Chouinard
E-mail: luc [dot] chouinard [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-6446

Research Area: Structural Engineering


Description: The maintenance and replacement of aging infrastructures is challenging task for civil engineers. Models are needed to predict the residual life of structural components in order to plan for the timing of inspections, maintenance activities and replacement. The objective of this project is to compare different methods for evaluating the reliability of beam that is deteriorating. The case study will be performed for the case of a deteriorating timber beam analyzed previously by researchers at the University of Nantes.

Tasks: Software for performing the analyses (Matlab). Written report.

Deliverables: A compilation report of the trends observed during the experiment is expected at the end of the study and an oral presentation during regular group meetings.

Number of positions:  1
Academic Level: Year 3

CIVIL-008: Surrogate Models Using Polynomial Chaos Expansion for Structural Reliability Analysis
Professor: Luc Chouinard
E-mail: luc [dot] chouinard [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-6446

Research Area: Structural Engineering


Description: The propagation of uncertainty in complex models is an important but challenging task. Surrogate models, which are simplified representation of full models, are a convenient and popular means for performing the uncertainty analysis by minimizing the number of evaluations obtained from the full model. The objective of the project is to implement and compare the performance of various surrogate models: response surface, support vector machines, polynomial chaos expansion, to the analysis of an electric transmission line. The simulations for the full model have been performed by a previous student and used to develop surrogate models using support vector machines (SVM). The task will be use the data set to develop response surface models and polynomial chaos expansion for structural components and the system and to compare results with those obtained with SVM. The models will then be used to estimate component and system reliabilities.

Tasks: The simulations for the full model have been performed by a previous student and used to develop surrogate models using support vector machines (SVM). The task will be use the data set to develop response surface models and polynomial chaos expansion for structural components and the system and to compare results with those obtained with SVM. The models will then be used to estimate component and system reliabilities.

Deliverables: Program (Matlab) that implement the various procedures.Technical report.

Number of positions:  1
Academic Level: Year 3

CIVIL-009: Seismic Risks for the Greater Montreal Area
Professor: Luc Chouinard
E-mail: luc [dot] chouinard [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-398-6446

Research Area: Structural and geotechnical engineering


Description: Seismic hazard and risk analyses have been performed the island of Montreal over the last few years. The objective of these studies is to estimate potential damages for different scenarios and to determine the location and characteristics of the most vulnerable structures. The objective of this summer project is to extend the study to areas North and South of the city.

Tasks: The first step will be to develop a seismic microzonation map using available data to estimate the shear wave velocity (Vs30) and develop a map for different site types (A, B, C, D or E) and to quantify the uncertainty on the classification. Measurements of fundamental frequencies using ambient noise measurements (H/V method) will be performed to validate the estimates. The second step is to develop a model to estimating the potential for soil liquefaction using currently available data (shear wave velocity estimates and SPT mainly). The final step is the collection of data on the built environment.

Deliverables: Data base and a technical report.

Number of positions:  1
Academic Level: Year 2

CIVIL-010: Aeration of hydraulic turbines for increased DO *** posted January 24th, 2017
Professor: Susan Gaskin
E-mail: susan [dot] gaskin [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Telephone: 514-426-8041

Research Area: Hydraulics - with environmental application


Description: In warm climates thermal stratification in hydropower reservoirs results in deoxygenation of waters in the hypolimnion. Turbines withdrawing water at depth result in low dissolved oxygen (DO) in the downstream flow having a large negative impact on the downstream riverine ecosystem. Legislation (USA and elsewhere) now requires hydropower operators to guarantee meeting minimum DO limits in downstream flows. Andritz Hydro Canada has initiated this project to optimize the elbow deflectors used in draft tube aeration, which is a technological retrofit approach not excessively impacting operation schedules. The project will be the optimization of the elbow deflectors, through a parametric study of the design parameters involved in maximizing bubble surface area and bubble concentration which is a proxy for an increase in downstream dissolved oxygen concentration. This will allow for both an understanding of the physical processes and for a set of quantitative data to be obtained for validation of CFD models.

Tasks: 1)Perform an experimental parametric study of elbow deflectors. 2)Analyze the results and write up a report.

Deliverables: 1)Summary of experimental results. 2)Final report.

Number of positions:  1
Academic Level: Year 3

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