Muntasir Billah (PhD, Civil ’15) is a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus School of Engineering and an assistant professor at Lakehead University.
What brought you to UBC Okanagan?
I was attracted to UBC Okanagan based on its academic reputation, outstanding faculty members and above all the opportunities to conduct cutting-edge research on structural engineering. I consider myself fortunate to be a part of such a dynamic and diverse research group which strengthened my expertise in the field of structural and earthquake engineering. While searching for my graduate school and prospective supervisor, I came across Dr. Alam’s profile. His prolific research profile and expertise in smart materials and structural application attracted me to pursue my graduate study under his supervision. And this came to fruition when I started my MASc at UBC Okanagan in the Fall of 2010.
Describe the research you did at the School of Engineering with Dr. Shahria Alam.
My doctoral research developed a performance-based seismic design guideline for bridge piers reinforced with superelastic shape memory alloy (SMA). I developed critical and essential design features of SMA-RC bridge pier from the analytical point of view and provided some numerical tools and guidelines for designers. I performed nonlinear dynamic analysis to assess the vulnerability of the bridge piers designed with proposed method. The results showed better performance in reducing earthquake damage as opposed to conventional bridge pier. This research has paved a novel way for designing highway bridges with shape memory alloy, which will be potentially adopted in national and international bridge design codes. It is expected that this research outcome will gradually lead to new generation sustainable highway bridges against earthquakes in Canada and all over the world.
What are some of your fondest memories from being at UBCO?
I met some amazing people and made lifelong friends while at UBCO. Working as the internal coordinator for the Engineering Graduate Student Society (EGSS) was rewarding which helped me improving my leadership and interpersonal skills. Winning the prestigious Governor General’s Gold Medal 2016 and Graduate Dean’s Thesis Fellowship 2015 will always be the fondest memory at UBCO.
How did your studies at UBC Okanagan prepare you for your role at Lakehead?
Dr. Alam is one of those rare mentors who provides sufficient support and allow the beginners with adequate time to make them ready for their research works. In addition to PhD thesis, I was involved in several other research projects that allowed me to delve deeper into interesting research challenges over a longer time frame. During my graduate studies at UBC, I was closely involved with several industrial projects sponsored by British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (BCMoTI), Dillon Consulting Ltd., and City of Kelowna. Working with helped me to become a competent researcher as I can work under stressed conditions and meet project deadlines. In addition, teaching undergraduate courses at UBC positioned me well to continue teaching and to develop content for new Lakehead University courses. As a PhD student, I also had the opportunity of mentoring undergraduate capstone design projects and graduate students for their research projects. All these provided me unique opportunity to prepare myself for my role as an educator, researcher, and mentor at Lakehead University.
What type of research are you doing now at Lakehead?
My research experience in the field of structural dynamics along with my professional experience in the design of bridge and transportation infrastructures has shaped my future research interest on the development of resilient civil infrastructures to ensure reduced risk of damage and collapse under extreme loading. My initial research involves providing practical and innovative solutions for design and construction of resilient civil infrastructures thus ensuring long term performance under variable extreme load conditions.