CUIIC Safety Academy 2023

CUIIC Continues to Advance Underground Infrastructure Education

The Canadian Underground Infrastructure Innovation Centre (CUIIC) continues to build momentum with its robust educational offerings.

The first year of CUIIC Academy educational offerings featured a pair of well-attended in-person conferences and a robust monthly webinar series, and the Academy’s organizers have much more instore for 2024.

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CUIIC Academy, a partnership between the CUIIC and Benjamin Media Inc., focuses on furthering underground infrastructure educational opportunities across Canada.

Created in April 2022, the CUIIC is 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. CUIIC’s mission is one of advocacy, education and research for the entire underground infrastructure construction sector through engagement with all members of the industry.

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CUIIC Safety Academy Recap

While there are many conferences, tradeshows and courses across Canada that focus on underground infrastructure construction, one area that CUIIC’s Safety Committee thought was lacking was an educational event focused on all aspects of safety.

“Safety is paramount in underground construction due to the complex and confined working environment, exposure to health risks, potential structural hazards and the use of heavy equipment. In Canada, ensuring adequate safety education for underground construction is crucial,” said Bayat when discussing why CUIIC hosted a Safety Academy. “This education should encompass confined space training, handling of hazardous materials, specific safety protocols, utility awareness, and emergency response procedures. By addressing these aspects, we can be better prepared to mitigate risks and enhance overall safety in underground infrastructure construction.”

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Taking place Nov. 29-30, 2023, in Edmonton, the two-day course was led by safety experts, focused on equipping attendees with insights into underground construction safety, regulation, challenges and innovation. The presentations delved into key issues and the latest policies and attendees gained a comprehensive understanding of a wide range of safety topics.

“The overall feedback from speakers and attendees was very positive,” says Bayat. “The Academy covered site safety, public awareness, regulation, mental health, trench rescue, policies and much more. The format allowed for many different perspectives to be shared – from engineers, consultants, contractors and utilities and owners.”

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Based on feedback from the attendees and the CUIIC Safety Committee, the plan is to increase the size of the Safety Academy when it heads to Ontario in 2025.

CUIIC Safety Academy 2023

2024 In-Person Events

Coming off the success of the 2023 Pipeline Rehabilitation Academy in Mississauga, Ontario, the 2024 Pipeline Rehabilitation Academy is taking place March 13-14 in Vancouver. The agenda offers deep insights into asset management, condition assessment and the rehabilitation of underground pipelines.

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New for 2024 is the addition of a two-day Advanced HDD School set for April 24-25 in Calgary. The school provides in-depth coverage of horizontal directional drilling (HDD), including construction, design, risk management and contracting processes.

It should come as no surprise that CUIIC would host an HDD-focused event given Bayat’s research and involvement with the industry at the University of Alberta and before.

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“The University of Alberta boasts a prominent role in the evolution of directional drilling research, marked by its advanced testing facilities and strong industry collaborations. The university’s longstanding commitment to HDD research and education is evident in its history of providing top-tier directional drilling courses for over a decade,” says Bayat. “These programs have significantly influenced industry practices, underscoring the university’s dedication to fostering innovation and excellence in underground infrastructure education and research.”

Don’t let the name mislead you, the planning committee for the Advanced HDD School has designed a program that is designed to provide valuable education to both novice and veteran design engineers, construction management engineers, project owners and engineering consultants.

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Led by Bayat and a group of industry experts, the classroom-based program emphasizes an interactive learning environment. The speakers are renowned for their knowledge in HDD, providing a diverse curriculum that includes theoretical knowledge enriched with practical case studies and real-world examples.

“CUIIC’s introduction of a HDD course is a strategic response to the growing importance and application of HDD in Alberta’s dynamic pipeline construction industry. HDD, a sophisticated technique, is indispensable for installing pipelines in complex terrains, including beneath water bodies, on steep slopes, and in environmentally sensitive areas,” says Bayat. “Recognizing that planning and executing an HDD project presents unique challenges, especially for those new to this technique, CUIIC’s course is meticulously designed to deepen the understanding of HDD principles, including construction, design, risk management, and contracting. This initiative directly supports CUIIC’s mission to excel as a global leader in underground infrastructure education by equipping professionals with cutting-edge skills and comprehensive knowledge in essential installation methods like HDD.”

Attendees at both the Pipeline Rehabilitation Academy and the Advanced HDD School can receive CEUs from the Engineering Institute of Canada. Explore detailed course agendas for both events and register at

CUIIC Safety Academy 2023

2024 Webinar Series

The momentum of its successful 2023 webinar series continues into this year as CUIIC will once again offer a monthly schedule of sessions designed to address a wide range of topics critical to the underground infrastructure construction industry. The monthly webinar series is free to attend and includes a live Q&A session, providing a valuable platform for the transfer of knowledge in the underground infrastructure construction industry.

For the schedule and registration information, visit The webinars are available on-demand as well.

To date, the 2024 CUIIC Webinar sessions include:

  • March 21 – “Award Winning Custom-Built Drones for Surveying Buried Pipelines & Confined Spaces,” led by Shauna Herron, director, Environmental Techniques
  • Feb. 15 – “Watermain Rehabilitation with Same Day Return to Service,” led by Andrew Hallett, P.Eng., M.ASCE, vice president of technical operations, Watertight Lining Solutions Inc.
  • Jan. 18 – Student Research Projects: “Why Frac-Out matter in HDD? What to do about it?” led by Inshik Park, PhD candidate/graduate research assistant, University of Alberta; and “The Need for Classification of Pressure Pipelining Systems,” led by Jide Ogunbanjo, student, University of Waterloo

Mike Kezdi is the managing editor of Trenchless Technology.

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