Canadian Underground Infrastructure Innovation Centre Launches at University of Alberta

The Canadian Underground Infrastructure Innovation Centre (CUIIC) – Canada’s first world-class hub for research, innovation and education in underground infrastructure – announced in April that it received official approval from the University of Alberta. 

CUIIC will build on the success of the Centre for Advancement of Trenchless Technologies (CATT) at the University of Waterloo and the Consortium for Trenchless Technologies (CETT) at the University of Alberta.

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CATT and CETT have over 40 years of combined experience in the trenchless sector, focusing on underground construction methods that involve minimal excavation to install, assess and rehabilitate underground infrastructure including water and wastewater lines, pipelines, and optical fiber, among other applications.

Both CATT and CETT ceased operations as of May 1, with CUIIC continuing to address the challenges associated with underground construction through research and education.

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RELATED: Members Vote to Dissolve CATT, Canadian Innovation Center Planned

CUIIC will be led by Alireza Bayat, Ph.D., P.Eng., professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Associate Industrial Research Chair in Underground Trenchless Construction.

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“Canada has unique challenges related to the installation and maintenance of underground infrastructure,” says Bayat, director of CUIIC. “We have vast distances, low population density in many areas, and a cold climate. CUIIC will focus on research and providing training to the next generation of professionals and also be a much-needed hub for academics and practitioners to exchange ideas and find innovative solutions.”

“This is all about succession planning, looking to the future and innovating,” says Mark Knight, Ph.D., who first became involved with CATT in 1997. “We must change and adapt along with the industry and pass the torch on to the next generation.”

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Membership in CUIIC is open to manufacturers, suppliers, contractors, consultants, utilities, municipalities, and non-profit agencies with an interest in underground infrastructure. Members become research partners with the University of Alberta and will have opportunities to identify priorities for both research and training in underground infrastructure.

For more information or to become a member of CUIIC, visit