Queen’s University NASTT Chapter members

Trenchless Profile: A Look at Queen’s University’s NASTT Student Chapter

Queen’s University NASTT Chapter members

Queen’s University NASTT Chapter members assembled together at the 2017 NASTT No-Dig Show for the annual poster competition.

With the goal of advancing the science and practice of trenchless technology for the public benefit, the NASTT Queen’s University Student Chapter was established in 2003 by Dr. Ian D. Moore and his graduate students at the time.


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Determined to make influential contributions to the field, Moore has supervised dozens of student members and currently oversees the activities of the entire 10-member student chapter. At Queen’s University, so long as students profess their interest in trenchless technology, all registered students are able to garner the benefits of being an active student member.

Over the years, the student chapter members have been able to greatly benefit from chapter activities. With out a doubt, one of the best features of being in the chapter is the opportunity to attend the annual NASTT No-Dig Show. Being a part of the chapter, attendance is made possible by the support of NASTT as they cover the conference registration fees and accommodation of all student members.

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By attending the No-Dig Show, student chapter members have been able to acquire vast amounts of knowledge from participating in the hosted seminars, networking with industry specialists and touring the exhibit hall. The No-Dig show also hosts a poster competition for students to show off their work.

At the 2017 NASTT No-Dig Show in Washington, D.C., two student chapter members, master’s student Yuchen Li, and doctoral candidate Titilope Adebola had their achievements recognized, earning first and third place honours in the poster competition. They join the ranks of six previous NASTT poster competition winners and runners-up from Queen’s University.

Aside from participating in NASTT’s No-Dig Show, the student chapter is active at the school and in the community.

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The Queen’s University Student Chapter is composed of graduate students who actively conduct trenchless technology research at the university.

Although each member has their own specific research focus, being involved in the chapter, and conducting research at our Geo-Engineering Laboratory often involves lending a hand to colleagues. By doing so, chapter members learn about and contribute to the other research projects being conducted. Many of the projects are conducted in collaboration with industry partners. Technical meetings and site visits organized for chapter members for those projects allow chapter members to learn about industry activities.

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In terms of civil engineering, various aspects of trenchless technology may be considered relatively new.

Being involved in a new progressing industry where technology is rapidly evolving can prove difficult for new professionals. Linking young academics to student chapters provides them the privilege of joining the trenchless community where they gain unique opportunities to learn about these technologies. Ultimately, joining a student chapter can fortify a young academic’s chances to build a meaningful and influential career in a thriving industry.

RELATED: CETT Spearheads Trenchless Research, Education in Western Canada

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Queen’s University has remarkable resources for performing trenchless research which contributes to advances in understanding the performance and design of trenchless projects. Home to our one of kind indoor Geo-Engineering Laboratory facility (the Geo-Lab), chapter members are able to perform full scale experiments year-round.

In the Geo-Lab, researchers are able to simulate a diverse set of burial and trenchless construction conditions. The lab includes a large overhead crane for easy maneuverability of equipment and materials; five different test chambers for conducting tests on new, deteriorated, and repaired pipes at deep cover, at shallow cover under vehicle loads, under differential ground settlements, and involving pull- and push-type trenchless construction. These facilities involve multiple reaction frames to apply a variety of loads, as well as state-of-the-art sensing technologies to obtain experimental data.

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From left, Graeme Boyd, Van Mai, Dr. Ian Moore, Josh Coghlan, Yuchen Liu, Haitao Lan and Dr. Hoult following Mai’s commissioning test of the new deep burial simulator at Queen’s University, which can examine pipes up to 3 m diameter under earth pressures equivalent to 20 m burial

With Queen’s Geo-Lab being powered by Queen’s exceptional geo-research professors and lab technologists, Queen’s University Student Chapter members are able to work on a variety of industry and government funded project as well as in international research collaborations. Collaborations over the last two years have afforded us the pleasure of working with students, postdocs and faculty from Brazil, China, England, France, Israel and Mexico, where professors were able to lend their expertise and students were able to gain hands-on learning experiences.

In 2017, the Queen’s Geo-Lab hosted:

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  • Dr. Alister Smith from Loughborough University in England who was investigating pipe monitoring using acoustic emissions.

  • Dr. Rui Yong from China who was examining joint leakage into vitrified clay pipes and culvert repair using invert paving.

  • Doctoral student, Min Zhou from Southeast University, Nanjing, who studied corrugated polyethylene pipe response in moving ground.

  • Xuefeng Yan from the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, who investigated drilling mud properties and mud intrusion into sand during directional drilling.

Non-Destructive Pipe Monitoring Methods

Masters student Dong Wang has set out to test and evaluate the efficacy of non-destructive pipe monitoring technologies for buried pipes.

dong wang

Queen’s University Master of Applied Science student, Dong Wang, undergoing an erosion void detection test with industry specialists using backscatter computer tomography

In one element of the project, he paired up with specialist contractors to run test trials on their erosion void sensing technologies at Queen’s Geo-Lab. In the test trials, corroded steel pipes, as well as precast concrete pipes were buried at the lab facility with simulated erosion voids around the pipes. It was then the task of the industry partners to examine if they could map the voids around the pipes.

RELATED: Trenchless Technology Canada Point of View: Fostering the Next Generation of Trenchless Pioneers

Outside of his lab work, Wang has also performed field tests to conduct a leak detection and condition assessment surveys on small diameter cast iron pipes. From his assessments, Wang then examined the links between pipe leaks, frost heave, and watermain breaks.

Masters student Yuchen Li also performed field work on non-destructive pipe monitoring techniques. Li is working in partnership with the City of Kingston, Ontario, to instrument culverts with fibre optic sensing technology to record the in-situ structural behaviour at various cover depths and live loadings. The goal of his work is to develop improved methods for load rating of deteriorated culverts.

Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD)

HDD research being carried out by the chapter is presently being performed by doctoral student Haitoa Lan and master sstudent Amir Hashemi.

Lan has invested his time working at Queen’s University conducting an experimental and numerical investigation of borehole stability during horizontal directional drilling. As a result of his labour, improved criteria for distinguishing between shear and tensile failure of horizontal boreholes during HDD in saturated clay is developed.

Further, his work has produced a new design equation for calculating maximum allowable mud pressures in sand. Hashemi is working to develop a method for reliably estimating the stiffness and undrained shear strength of frictional soil during HDD, for use in mud loss analysis in fine sands.

Deterioration and Rehabilitation

A hot topic among civil engineering professors at the university and industry specialists is “How much deterioration is too much deterioration?”

In the realm of trenchless technology, PhD candidate Jane Peter is studying the deterioration and rehabilitation of culverts, sewers and maintenance holes. Recently in the final part of her research, she has paired up with an industry contractor to spray down her test samples. As a result, Peter will study the failure responses of spray-applied liners in maintenance holes when they are subjected to groundwater pressure at leaking points.

Van Thien Mai, a PhD student and erosion void specialist, has performed small and large-scale experiments, as well as numerical simulations to study the effect of erosion voids on deteriorated metal culverts.Ultimately, from studying erosion void mechanics, he is working towards developing guidelines for culvert assessments.

RELATED: Trenchless Student Profiles

Additional original work examining pipe rehabilitation is being conducted by PhD candidate Titilope Adebola, as well as masters students Robert Cichocki and Josh Treitz.

Adebola and Cichocki are working towards sharpening design practises for tight fitting liners when rehabilitating pressure pipes (Adebola) and gravity flow pipes (Cichocki), while masters student Treitz is studying rehabilitation with grouted, loose-fitting pipe liners.

To date, student chapter members — past and present — have contributed a total of 137 publications to the field of trenchless technology, including 76 papers in leading international journals, and 25 papers in the North American and International No-Dig conferences.

Robert Cichocki, is a Master of Applied Science student and a research and teaching assistant in the Department of Civil Engineering at Queen’s University.

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