By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman on November 26, 2021.
A group of former Lethbridge College Civil Engineering Technology students have won third place in a national competition through Technology Accreditation Canada (TAC).
The group consisted of three students, Sishminder Singh who at the time was an international student from Dubai, Jordan Dyck, a carpentry alumni from Lethbridge College and Harrison Hadford, former Wind Turbine Technician and Governor General Award recipient from Lethbridge College. They formed a group to do a research project as part of their graduating requirements.
“It really felt great after graduating learning that a small research idea has given us a life line, you can say, and I am really happy we were able to work together as a group and achieve this,” said Singh.
Dyck, having a carpentry background, recommended doing research on the structural effects of spray-applied polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation within a wood framed wall section, and after their proposal was accepted they embarked on their research.
SPF insulation is an expanding foam that hardens shortly after application. Due to its hardening properties one can easily assume that it would increase the strength of a timber wall section, but Singh and his team wanted to find out if that was indeed the case and how much would the strength be increased by.
“We were interested in that material because it has a high heat insulation compared to other materials that are usually used in the market,” said Singh.
Singh said that in order to conduct this research, the team had to manufacture scaled down versions of a wall section in order to be able to use the testing equipment available to them.
“We used the scaled down sections with three different mediums, we tested one without insulation, one with the fibrelass and one with the spray foam polyurethane and we tested it in the UTF testing machine, the Universal Testing Machine at Lethbridge College,” explained Singh.
Singh added that with the help of the technician they were able to use the machine to apply lateral forces and they discovered that the wall sections sprayed with SPF insulation did not actually crack but bent instead. Therefore concluding that they did in fact increase the strength of the wall sections, even though it was minimal.
“It turned out that it never snapped but it turned, so that was a different kind of failure that we were not expecting,” said Singh.
They recommend that more research goes into it, but with a full scale wall section and with wood at different stages of its life span, as they used fresh wood.
“We were really happy that it was a simple idea that we used and that it created a great result, an open-ended result that could be like a deep subject to go in and still do further research,” said Singh.
TAC, the organization that awarded them third place, is in charge of accrediting colleges and polytechnics across Canada and the Civil Engineering Technology program is accredited through them. Which means that once students graduate from the program, they are accredited to work anywhere in Canada.
“It’s a big deal to get third out of all of the colleges, all of the accredited colleges across Canada,” said Doug May, Civil Engineering Technology instructor at Lethbridge College.
May added that it is a rigorous process for colleges to get their accreditation and they went through it a few years back.
“They went through our curriculum with a fine tooth comb.
They looked at tests, assignments, to ensure that we were meeting the outcomes that TAC mandates that we meet,” said May.
May added that all three of the engineering programs are accredited, which include Engineering Design Technology and Geomatics.
“We did very well in the accreditation process, so we are quite proud of that,” said May.
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