UNB engineering students visit the site of Campbell Creek dam

UNB engineering students visit the site of Campbell Creek dam

Fourth-year civil engineering student Maria Thomas has gained a lot of valuable knowledge this year about her field of study that couldn’t be taught within the walls of a classroom.

She is one of eight students who have partnered with the City of Fredericton to find a solution to the Campbell Creek Dam — a 100-year old dam that was originally built for the Marysville Cotton Mill that has quietly resided there until a failure of a water control mechanism last year.

“With the drained head pond the structure possessed a low risk of any significant failure; however, the structural integrity is deteriorating and needs to be addressed,” said Ms. Thomas. “We are developing a design for decommissioning the structure and will present it to the city next month.”

The students were partnered with the city through UNB’s Capstone Design Course; a course all fourth-year engineering students take, which allows them to work in teams to develop an engineering design that helps solve real-world issues.

Jody Boone, a project engineer for roadway operations with the City of Fredericton says working with UNB engineering students is mutually beneficial.

“A collaboration with the university allows students to look at the challenges and approach it in their own methods,” said Mr. Boone. “This provides us with options and ideas we can use to assist in our planning and design processes as well. The process is very similar to working with a consultant, and therefore is easy for us to facilitate. We initially provided a problem statement to allow the students to realize the scope of the project, conducted a site visit for them to see any on-site constraints, and on-going, we have reviewed progress reports which were followed with client meetings to allow for some discussion and direction.”

The fourth-year civil engineering student group decided to tackle the Campbell Creek Dam project by dividing the work up. Nicholas Prest is investigating the geotechnical aspects of the project and how to design an access route to the site. Frederick Blaney is looking at how to recycle, reuse and dispose of materials. Kyle McConnell is looking at the river flow—how to engineer it to ensure the least amount of impact on aquatic life, etc. Ms. Thomas is looking at the environmental impact of removing the dam. A group of geological engineering students are working on this project as well. Danielle Gear, Spencer MacKnight, Nicole Patey, and Kevin Pickard are also investigating ways the dam could be removed economically and environmentally — including the rehabilitation of the dam-free water course to encourage the return of spawning salmon.

“We learn a lot by working in groups,” said Ms. Thomas. “Everyone brings their own opinions and backgrounds and we need to come up with a strategy together. I’m happy with our team. Everyone pulls their weight and gets along well.”

For Ms. Thomas, who came to UNB Fredericton from Ethiopia in 2013, getting the hands-on experience of working in teams and with clients has taught her a lot about what a career in engineering could be like.

“This is the type of work I want to be involved with,” said Ms. Thomas. “Environmental — wastewater treatment and making sure environmental requirements are met all while being on budget and pleasing clients. We need to give progress updates and are accountable to our clients, so it’s giving us a taste of the real-world.”

Ms. Thomas and her team will present their final design project at UNB’s 3rd Annual Engineering Design Symposium taking place at the Fredericton Convention Centre on Thursday, March 30, 2017 from 8:20 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Media contact: Natasha Ashfield

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