School of Engineering provides workshops in dam safety and risk management
Faculty at the School of Engineering at UBC’s Okanagan campus aren’t always teaching UBC students.
In December, the school hosted a 12-day workshop for 20 senior engineers and project managers from a dam construction site in China. The Xiaolangdi Dam project, on the Yellow River, is a 50-year construction project initiated by the People’s Republic of China with a total cost of more than $200 billion dollars. There are currently more than 100,000 employees directly involved in the mega project.
UBC’s School of Engineering provided workshops on dam safety, risk management, project management, and even a special workshop called “train the trainer” that provided technical communication and presentation skills for the visiting Chinese engineers.
Acting Assoc. Dean of the School of Engineering Dwayne Tannant says the benefits of offering workshops of this nature are far reaching. More than a dozen UBC professors worked closely with the visitors, organizing highly interactive workshop sessions and providing information they can take back and use on the site in China. While it’s a great opportunity for the professors to showcase the Okanagan campus and work with international engineers, Tannant also says there was some long-range strategic planning taking place at the same time.
“This is a key initiative by the School of Engineering to promote UBC’s Okanagan campus on the international stage,” says Tannant. “And specifically, we are also looking for high-level graduate students for our programs.”
Eventually, UBC would like to introduce a Master of Engineering program for international professionals. By networking and creating solid professional relationships around the world, this is a key step in spreading the word about the UBC program.
The visitors were in Kelowna for a full two weeks and Tannant says communication was a big challenge as none of them spoke English. Three UBC grad students acted as interpreters during the stay, translating all the oral and written communications between the two groups.
This workshop was organized and coordinated by associate professor Kasun Hewage, acting director of UBC’s School of Engineering Rehan Sadiq, and Tannant, while Carolyn Labun organized the “train the trainer” session. This is the second time UBC has hosted a large group of engineers from the Xiaolangdi Dam project and there is also a chance that some of UBC’s faculty might make it to the construction site in China to see first-hand the size of this mega project.
“We have received extremely positive feedback from the workshop attendees and are planning another similar workshop in the next year,” says Tannant. “The intent is to have future workshops take place in the summer so that we can better use space on campus, such as rooms in residence and other campus facilities and services. In this way, the financial benefits to UBC from running these workshops will extend throughout the campus.”