A construction site

Department of Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering is a rewarding and challenging profession. Primary endeavours of the civil engineer are building and maintaining the physical infrastructure of our society, as well as the utilization and conservation of natural resources for the benefit of humanity. The majority of the infrastructure that surrounds us is the work of a civil engineer. Airports, pipelines, bridges, sewage treatment plants, buildings, transportation systems, dams, tunnels, harbors, water distribution and wastewater collection systems, industrial facilities, water treatment plants and irrigation channels are examples of the application of civil engineering.

Our students develop expertise in computer applications, field and laboratory testing and project management, and are well equipped to serve society upon graduation.


The Department of Civil Engineering accepts around 150 new undergraduate students annually, and has over 300 graduate students.

It currently has 21 full-time regular faculty members, 3 full-time teaching professors, 4 emeritus professors and 15 adjunct professors, who are actively pursuing research in cutting edge laboratories and supervising graduate students in 8 strong research programs: Blast engineering, Earthquake engineering, Environmental engineering, Geotechnical engineering, Structural engineering, Tsunami engineering, Water resources engineering and Wind engineering.

Research areas

Blast Engineering

Recent bomb attacks on civilian facilities have heightened awareness of blast risk to buildings, bridges, dams, transportation systems, and communication lifelines. While considerable classified research has been conducted for the protection of physical infrastructure against military bomb attacks, limited information is available for blast risk mitigation of civilian infrastructure.

The Department of Civil Engineering established the Blast Research Laboratory in 2008, with a strong research program on blast-induced loading on infrastructure. The laboratory is equipped with a unique shock tube, suitable for testing large-scale structural and non-structural elements under blast shock waves.

The long-term objective of the research effort is to develop blast-resistant design and mitigation strategies that can be adopted in the engineering practice. The short-term objectives include the development of design and retrofit techniques for: structural and non-structural components of building structures; transportation systems, including bridges; water distribution and treatment facilities; hydraulic structures, dams, and power generation facilities; and industrial plants and telecommunication towers. Analytical research is also being pursued in parallel, including computer software development for blast-load analysis.


Earthquake engineering

The University of Ottawa has a strong research program on earthquake engineering that involves experimental and analytical research, as well as reconnaissance missions and field investigations after major earthquakes. Experimental research includes tests of large-scale and full-size building and bridge components in the Structures Laboratory under simulated seismic loading. Analytical research includes dynamic inelastic response history analysis of structures and development of mathematical models for hysteretic behaviour of structural elements.

The main thrust of current research is on the development of innovative seismic retrofit methodologies for concrete columns, structural walls, masonry infill panels, and reinforced concrete frame systems. The examined techniques include external prestressing, steel bracing, and the use of fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) sheets.

Another area of research concentration involves the investigation of seismic performance of normal‐strength and high‐strength concrete structures reinforced with FRP bars, shape memory alloys, steel and FRP grids, as well as stay‐in‐place FRP formwork. A new program has also been implemented on seismic resistance of timber structures. Projects geared towards new construction involve the development of design procedures and design provisions for use in practice.


Environmental engineering

Environmental engineering research encompasses water treatment, wastewater treatment, solid waste management, landfill design, biosolids treatment and biofilm treatment system design.


Geotechnical engineering

The Geotechnical Engineering Group specializes in mining geotechnique, saturated and unsaturated soil mechanics, underground disposal of nuclear waste, advanced modelling techniques, and rock mechanics. Using advanced knowledge in these areas, the group takes on challenging civil engineering projects related to mining activities, foundation design, natural disasters, and other geotechnical problems.


Structural engineering

The main thrust of research in structural engineering involves the investigation of analysis, design and construction methods for buildings, bridges and other infrastructure. At the Department of Civil Engineering, areas of expertise include reinforced concrete structures, fibre reinforced concrete, steel structures, oil and gas pipelines, wood structures, wind effects on structures, and seismic, blast and tsunami effects on structures.







Tsunami engineering

The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami has raised awareness of the deadly consequences of earthquake-induced tsunamis worldwide. Tsunamis are rare events that are often caused by subduction earthquakes and resulting uplifts at ocean floor. Rapidly displaced, massive bodies of water generate a series of waves that can have devastating effects on coastlines and the infrastructure nearby.

There is currently a lack of research data for accurate numerical modelling of tsunamis and of their effects on coastal structures and nearby infrastructure. The Tsunami Research Group is actively pursuing research to mitigate risks associated with this natural disaster.


Water resources engineering

The Water Resources Engineering Group specializes in morphodynamics of rivers and coastlines, mixing processes, hydraulic structures, stochastic hydrology, and climate change.  Solutions combine leading-edge research in high-resolution field measurements, detailed laboratory physical models, and advanced numerical modelling techniques.


Wind engineering

Wind storms are one of the greatest natural causes of damage and loss of structures. Major events, like Hurricanes Katrina and Andrew, have caused tens of billions of dollars’ worth of damage in a single event. Also, much damage and suffering is caused every year by local extreme winds, such as tornadoes, downbursts, and gusty winds. Although there have been significant advances in the understanding of wind effect on structures, new approaches in theoretical and experimental techniques are always being developed.

The Wind Research Group is currently involved in research projects concerning estimation of aerodynamic vibration of tall buildings and suspension bridges, as well as assessment of wind-induced pressure on a vast majority of structures and clean energy systems (such as solar panels and wind turbines).


Sustainable Materials and Construction

Civil infrastructure is critical to society, providing housing, mobility, and a platform for business development. Yet infrastructure development, operation, and maintenance accounts for a significant share of energy and natural resources consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste generation.

The Sustainable Materials and Construction group in the Department of Civil Engineering at uOttawa is aligned with the current Canadian infrastructure needs and aims to conduct research (among others) on 1) low-carbon, renewable and bio-sourced building materials, 2) energy-efficient and green building systems, 3) bioclimatic and net-positive buildings, 4) indoor environmental quality; 5) condition assessment (diagnosis and prognosis) and management protocols of critical infrastructure.


Research groups
  • Environmental Engineering Group
  • Geotechnical Engineering Group
  • Infrastructure Engineering Group
  • Water Resources Engineering Group
  • Construction Management Group
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