Research Pushing the Boundaries

Research Pushing the Boundaries

The Faculty of Engineering team, led by Dr. Pooneh Maghoul, at the University of Manitoba is among the inaugural recipients of $250,000 in funding from the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) announced on May 13, 2019, by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The NFRF program launched in 2018 provides funding that supports high-risk, high-reward and interdisciplinary research to help Canadian researchers make the next great discoveries in their fields.

“Traditional parameters are limiting as Canada strives for new discoveries and innovation,” said Ted Hewitt, chair, Canada Research Coordinating Committee and President of SSHRC. “As society evolves, so must our means of doing research. The New Frontiers in Research Fund is supporting leading-edge research and promoting ideas that would have traditionally been unsupported. Through this program, we are truly paving the way for our emerging researchers to expand their horizons, take risks and deliver outcomes that will benefit Canadians.”

PI: Pooneh Maghoul, civil engineering, Faculty of Engineering
Co-PIs: Faculty of Engineering – Ahmed Ashraf, electrical and computer engineering; Hartmut Hollaender, civil engineer; Ahmed Shalaby, civil engineering
Title: “Threat assessment for northern civil infrastructure affected by climate change using an AI-based geomechanical model”

Civil infrastructure (roads, dams, etcetera) in Northern Canada was originally designed based on our understanding of frozen soil properties as of the last century, to rely on the properties of ice-rich frozen soil for stability. Climate change has forced us to revisit this understanding. Specifically, in recent years, this infrastructure has been suffering from irregular settlements due to the adverse effects of climate warming, degradation of permafrost, and reduced strength of foundation soils due to thawing. With earth’s temperature predicted to increase within the lifetime of this infrastructure, structural integrity risks will be further compounded. There is, therefore, an urgent need to develop innovative solutions and strategies that will enable engineers and decision-makers to use these investments for implementing effective, long-term solutions for mitigating adverse impacts of hazards from the effects of climate warming on Canadian infrastructure.

The main objective of this research project is to develop innovative solutions to predict and enhance the structural integrity of existing critical infrastructure as well as future structures built on permafrost areas under different climate warming scenarios. In addition, it is aimed to create a new publicly available portal that will continuously monitor and predict the displacement of critical northern infrastructure subjected to climate warming hazards. This can be achieved by a multidisciplinary research that combines Geo-mechanical and Hydrogeological Modeling, Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, and Computer Vision for Remote Sensing, and Asset Management and Life-Cycle Cost Assessment of Climate Change Adaptation Measures as proposed in this study.

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