Undergraduate Research: Civil Engineering

Click on the title for full description of SURE 2018 projects in Civil Engineering.

CIV-001: Analysis and design of moment connections for steel I-shape members
Professor:Colin Rogers
E-mail: colin.rogers [at] mcgill.ca
Telephone: 514 398 6449
Website

Research Area: Structural engineering


Description
The design of I-shape steel sections as tension, bending & shear, or tension + bending & shear load carrying members often requires that at member ends or splices a flange (and web) bolted connection be used. The flange(s) of the I-shape will be subjected to tension stress (direct or bending induced), and as such must be designed accounting for the associated net section failure modes including block shear failure. Yet, confirmation of this failure mode in I-shape sections has not been carried out through testing or numerical analyses on representative tension and beam members. As such, questions arise. Do the proportions of typical I-shape rolled beams and tension members lead to changes in the formation of the block shear failure mode compared to the WT shapes that have been tested? Does a bending induced tension (stress gradient resulting in possible stress redistribution) result in a different block shear failure mode compared with the application of direct (uniform) tension to the cross-section? In addition to the block shear calculations as per CSA S16, engineers must also consider the bending resistance reductions for members with holes in the tension flange, under the general rules for the proportioning of beams and girders. These provisions date back to the work of Lilly & Carpenter in 1940, who investigated the effective moment of inertia of a built-up riveted plate girder, which bears no resemblance to the typical steel members and connections used in construction today..

Tasks:
The role of the SURE student is to provide support for the graduate students responsible for the research project. The SURE student will be involved in the development of non-linear finite element models using the Abaqus software. The models will be used for a parametric study to identify the role of the block shear failure mode in the performance of this type of connection. Further, finite element models of prototype test specimens will be developed such that a laboratory test program can be carried out by graduate students subsequent to the summer of 2018. Involved in this will be the design and detailing of test specimens, the design and detailing of a test apparatus, the selection of measurement instruments, etc.

Deliverables:
- Develop finite element model. - Calibrate model to data from tension member tests run in 2017. - Carry out parametric study on bending members / connections. - Design and detail test specimens, test apparatus. - Select measurement instruments and devis

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 3

CIV-002: Steel shear walls, steel columns and steel braces / connections laboratory research programs
Professor:Colin Rogers
E-mail: colin.rogers [at] mcgill.ca
Telephone: 514 398 6449
Website

Research Area: Structural Engineering


Description
The planned research involves various laboratory test programs, all of which are centered around steel structures. The testing will comprise of the following: a) Full-scale hot-rolled steel HSS braces and their connections subjected to simulated seismic loading. These tests will be used to develop methods for the design of special slotted hidden gap connections used to obtain ductile performance in an earthquake scenario. b) Full-scale hot-rolled steel column to base plate connections subjected to combined gravity and lateral loading. This project is being carried out to evaluate the performance of existing structures in an earthquake. These structures were built prior to the existence of modern seismic design requirements. c) Cold-formed steel shear walls and their connections subjected to simulated seismic loading. A new construction configuration known as the centre-sheathed shear wall was developed at McGill University. This study is a continuation of the research, which targets the individual behaviour of the confined sheathing to stud connection, and the response of full-scale shear walls of moderate capacity..

Tasks:
The SURE student will join a research team composed of PhD and Master’s students. The SURE student will prepare the laboratory for testing including installation of test apparati. In addition, he / she will assemble and instrument test specimens, install test specimens into the loading frame, set up instrumentation for measurements, and run the tests. Having an ASP Health and Safety on Construction Sites course certificate is advised. All laboratory work is physically demanding, requiring high levels of co-ordination and fitness. Prior experience with construction tools / equipment is an asset.

Deliverables:
- Undergo safety training specific to working in the structures laboratory - Carry out installation of test apparati - Complete construction / assembly of various cold-formed steel and hot-rolled steel test specimens - Install test specimens into the tes

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 3

CIV-003: Experiments on Reinforced Concrete Bridge Components
Professor:Denis Mitchell
E-mail: denis.mitchell [at] mcgill.ca
Telephone: 5148316859
Website

Research Area: Structural Concrete Researh


Description
Large-scale reinforced concrete bridge components 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. Issues that would be investigated include the role of flanges on the shear strength of the webs of I-shaped girders and the limitations on the one-way shear design of footings..

Tasks:
Construction, instrumentation, concrete casting, testing and analysis of results.

Deliverables:
Poster for Faculty Poster Session

Number of positions: 2
Academic Level: No preference

CIV-004: Transport potential of perfluoroalkyl chemicals in groundwater
Professor:Jinxia Liu
E-mail: jinxia.liu [at] mcgill.ca
Telephone: 514-398-7938
Website

Research Area: Environmental Engineering


Description
Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctane carboxylic acid (PFOA) are newly recognized significant sources of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). They are bioaccumulative, developmentally toxic and likely carcinogenic. US EPA has proposed Provisional Health Advisory values of 70 ng/L for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. The project aims to evaluate the transport potential of these chemicals in groundwater using a combination of laboratory experiments and model simulation. The goal is to safeguard drinking water sources from the contamination by perfluoroalkyl chemicals and also to develop a theoretical basis for developing groundwater remediation technologies. The student is expected to simulate the transport of these contaminants using a software package for simulating water and solute movement in one- or two- dimensional variably saturated media..

Tasks:
The student will be performing the research under the supervision of Prof. Liu and with the support of two graduate students. The student will start with assisting the graduate students with laboratory experiments. Then the student is expected to master the software package, build appropriate models and validate experimental data.

Deliverables:
Literature review, bi-weekly progress reports and a final report.

Number of positions: 2
Academic Level: Year 2

CIV-005: Seismic Residential Risks for the greater Montreal Area
Professor:Luc Chouinard
E-mail: luc.chouinard [at] mcgill.ca
Telephone: 514-398-6446
Website

Research Area: Seismic hazard and risk analysis


Description
Participate in a study on seismic residential risks for the Greater Montreal Area..

Tasks:
Student 1: Assist in the development of a seismic zonation map for the Greater Montreal area. Compile and analyze borehole databases to characterize depth to bedrock and stratigraphy. Compile and analyse data from seismic surveys done by the Geological Survey of Canada. Perform single station and network measurements of ambient noise. Analyse the data to determine the natural frequency of soil deposits and shear wave velocity profiles. Perform interpolation process in order to generate the zonation map. Student 2: Develop residential building inventories for off-island municipalities in the Greater Montreal Area using municipal role and census data. Develop a geographical segmentation and sampling plans to estimate distributions of building types (age, construction type, number of stories, etc.) in homogeneous regions including a validation phase on the field. Work in collaboration with graduate students to assign building types for specific fragility classes. The student will also participate in field measurements for single station and network measurements of ambient noise.

Deliverables:
Student 1: The student will prepare a final report as well as a data base documenting the compiled data, the measurements and the analyses performed during the internship. Student 2: The student will prepare a final report as well as a data base docume

Number of positions: 2
Academic Level: Year 3

CIV-006: Deep groundwater database development and analysis
Professor:Mary Kang
E-mail: mary.kang [at] mcgill.ca
Telephone: 514-398-6860
Website

Research Area: Groundwater Hydrology


Description
Deep groundwater aquifers may be a valuable resource, especially during severe droughts and in arid regions, in decades and centuries to come. It is now increasingly common to find groundwater wells drilled to several kilometer depths in California, Texas, the Middle East, and other arid regions. Therefore, we ask: which regions in the world could benefit most from analysis of their deep groundwater aquifers? The project involves analyzing global and regional groundwater databases but also compiling soft data, which is particularly useful in regions with data scarcity. The second step is to develop an index for deep groundwater vulnerability to quantitatively identify key basins around the world for future study. For selected basins, numerical/analytical models will be used to investigate deep groundwater availability. This project complements on-going research on characterizing and analyzing deep groundwater aquifers to manage and protect these resources..

Tasks:
Database compilation and analysis, including using geospatial analysis tools (e.g., ArcGIS) and developing data processing tools (e.g., Matlab and Python scripts).

Deliverables:
1) Deep groundwater database with metadata. 2) Final report.

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: No preference

CIV-007: Methane emissions from plugged abandoned oil and gas wells
Professor:Mary Kang
E-mail: mary.kang [at] mcgill.ca
Telephone: 514-398-6860
Website

Research Area: Subsurface hydrology, environmental engineering


Description
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and reducing its emissions can substantially combat global warming in the short term. Recent measurements have shown that abandoned oil and gas wells are sources of methane to the atmosphere. Plugged wells, which are those that have been filled with cement or other material to protect the environment, have been associated with lower methane emissions. However, methane emissions reductions achieved through plugging have not been quantified. The project involves preparing a field trip to Pennsylvania and analyzing the results in the laboratory. The field site is in northwestern Pennsylvania and several wells have been plugged in the last few years. Static flux chambers will be used to measure methane flow rates and other geochemical parameters, i.e., isotopes of methane and concentrations of ethane, propane, and butanes. The findings from this study will provide quantitative data for evaluating and designing mitigation solutions for the millions of abandoned oil and gas wells around the world..

Tasks:
Prepare for a field sampling trip, conduct field sampling, and analyze results.

Deliverables:
(1) Database of methane flow rates and hydrocarbon concentrations. (2) Final report, with details on each measurement location.

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: No preference

CIV-008: Examining components and sources of traffic-related air pollution: Case of Bogota, Colombia
Professor:Omid M. Rouhani
E-mail: omid.rouhani [at] mcgill.ca
Telephone: 5144317178
Website

Research Area: Transportation engineering, environmental engineering


Description
Motor vehicle traffic is a significant and increasing source of urban air pollution in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Latin America and Asia. Traffic-related air pollution is emitted from both combustion (i.e., tailpipe emissions) and non-combustion sources (i.e., tire wear, brake wear, and resuspended road dust). Many epidemiologic studies associate exposure to traffic-related air pollution with increased cardiovascular hospitalization and death. However, the importance of different combustion and non-combustion sources of traffic pollution on human health are unknown, posing a barrier to the formulation of transportation infrastructure planning and policy to mitigate the health risks of traffic. Particularly little is known about the health impacts of traffic-related air pollution in low- and middle-income countries where the chemical composition and dispersion of traffic pollution differs from high-income countries due to differences in vehicle fleets and maintenance, road infrastructure, and city planning (i.e., the proximity of homes to traffic). We plan to leverage existing research infrastructure in urban Bucaramanga, Colombia and conduct a pilot study that combines novel air pollution exposure metrics and biological monitoring in retired adults to investigate the most harmful PM components and sources of traffic-related air pollution..

Tasks:
- Data analysis - Work with air pollution measurement devices - Possibly working with MOVES and other software programs

Deliverables:
A short report and possibly a coauthored paper

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: No preference

CIV-009: Pore Fluid Pressure Generation in Saturated Geomaterials
Professor:A.P.S. Selvadurai
E-mail: patrick.selvadurai [at] mcgill.ca
Telephone: 514 398 6672
Website

Research Area: Experimental Geomechanics


Description
This project will investigate the development of pore fluid pressures in saturated geomaterials that are subjected to external stresses. The measurement of pore fluid pressures within the geomaterial will be made using specially designed pressure transducers. The time-dependent decay of pore fluid pressures due to the stress partitioning will be analyzed using computer modelling of poroelastic behaviour. [Students should be eligible for an NSERC Award and interested in continuing the research towards an MEng Thesis at McGill.].

Tasks:
The students should have completed CIVE 311 Geotechnical Mechanics with a high grade. Be familiar with instrumentation related to pressure transducers, LVDTs, data processing and data acquisition.

Deliverables:
The student should document the experimental procedures and present the data in a Report.

Number of positions: 2
Academic Level: Year 3

CIV-010: Heavy metals in potable water supplies
Professor:Susan Gaskin
E-mail: susan.gaskin [at] mcgill.ca
Telephone: 514-398-6865
Website

Research Area: Environmental Engineering


Description
Heavy metal contamination of potable water supplies is a concern due to health implications caused by their ingestion. Very low concentrations of heavy metals ingested over long periods of time results in chronic toxicity. Recent research has indicated links between low-level chronic heavy metal poisoning and increased rates of dementia in animal models, which could explain increased rates of Alzheimer’s in aging populations. In addition, recent cases of large-scale contamination of potable water by heavy metals due to changes in source water quality have indicated a need to reassess risk levels for vulnerable populations. Heavy metal contamination was initially investigated in the ’80s and ‘90s, and since then, new technology allows for the measurement of lower concentrations. This study will undertake a field survey of higher potential risk potable water infrastructure to determine if (currently detectable) measured levels could pose long-term health risks..

Tasks:
To undertake a field survey of higher potential risk potable water infrastructure to determine if (currently detectable) measured levels could pose a chronic health risk.

Deliverables:
Report of field survey of heavy metal concentrations in higher potential risk potable water infrastructure.

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 2

CIV-011: Impact of influent wastewater communities on the variation of activated sludge communities
Professor:Dominic Frigon
E-mail: dominic.frigon [at] mcgill.ca
Telephone: 5143982475
Website

Research Area: Environmental Engineering (Civil, Chemical, Bioresources)


Description
The performance of various biological treatment processes mainly depends on the activity and interaction of microorganisms, and the pollutant removal efficiency is usually positively associated with microbial diversities. Activated sludge microbial communities in biological wastewater treatment systems have been reported to share core genera. We believe that the sewer systems contribute to seeding in wastewater treatment facilities the the core genera. The goal of the project is to relate wastewater characteristics, geographical locations, and microbial community compositions of the sewer wastewaters. DNA sequencing techniques will be used to describe the microbial diversities in sewers and wastewater treatments plants in different geographical location with different biological systems. The project will take place in the laboratory with field sampling of wastewater treatment facilities. Along with field sampling, the student will also conduct a survey of pressurized sewer pipes in Québec and Ontario..

Tasks:
The performance of various biological treatment processes mainly depends on the activity and interaction of microorganisms, and the pollutant removal efficiency is usually positively associated with microbial diversities. Activated sludge microbial communities in biological wastewater treatment systems have been reported to share core genera. We believe that the sewer systems contribute to seeding in wastewater treatment facilities the the core genera. The goal of the project is to relate wastewater characteristics, geographical locations, and microbial community compositions of the sewer wastewaters. DNA sequencing techniques will be used to describe the microbial diversities in sewers and wastewater treatments plants in different geographical location with different biological systems. The project will take place in the laboratory with field sampling of wastewater treatment facilities. Along with field sampling, the student will also conduct a survey of pressurized sewer pipes in Québec and Ontario.

Deliverables:
Perform telephone interviews to determine the presence of pressurized sewer pipes. SPEAKING FRENCH IS REQUIRED FOR THIS PROJECT. Perform the sampling of influent and mixed liquor from the different treatment plant, Perform laboratory analyses to quantify and characterize the microbial communities: isolation of bacteria, extraction of DNA, performing PCR, contribution to the compilation and interpretation of the data.

Number of positions: 1
Academic Level: Year 2

CIV-012: Assessing energy benefits and solids reduction of operating anaerobic digesters at low temperature with ozonation of digested biosolids.
Professor:Dominic Frigon
E-mail: dominic.frigon [at] mcgill.ca
Telephone: 5143982475
Website

Research Area: Environmental Engineering (Civil, Chemical, Bioresources)


Description
Anaerobic digestion of waste activated sludge (WAS) is one of the most common processes used for biosolids reduction because it can convert about 50% of organic matter present in sewage sludge into valuable methane biogas. One of the important considerations in anaerobic digester design is the hydrolysis step because of anaerobes, especially methanogens, grow slowly. Typical digesters are operated at 35°C to allow the fast enough hydrolysis; however, heating the waste activated sludge (WAS) from 5-20°C (wastewater temperature) to 35°C is a considerable energy expense. We hypothesized that ozonation can enhance the disintegration/hydrolysis rate making it feasible to operate at low mesophilic temperature (20 °C) instead of the conventional anaerobic digester operated at 35 °C while maintaining similar SRTs. This will allow the operation of the digester without heating and increase the energy produced in the form of methane. The project, for the most part, will take place in the laboratory. Three laboratory-scale anaerobic digesters will be continuously operated for the 12 weeks: One single reactor ozonated at 20°C and pH 7 as control and two staged anaerobic digestions with two reactors in series; the fermentation reactor will be operated at two different pH 7 and 10 with a SRT 2-4 days. For the digesters, the SRT will be maintained at 15 days. During the internship time, several operation parameters will be tested including: TSS, COD, the temperature of operation, the dose of ozone, and the source of solids to expose to ozone (partially digested solids). The variations in operation will aim at optimizing the operation to provide the greatest energy yield from the digester..

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: 2
Academic Level: Year 2