Deanna Burgart is an Indigenous engineer (Indigeneer) passionate about creating culturally safe spaces for Indigenous perspectives into engineering. After 20 years in the oil and gas industry focused on regulatory compliance, risk management and organizational culture and leadership, she joined the University of Calgary as Teaching Chair focused on weaving Indigenous Perspectives in Engineering. Deanna is a proud Kokum (grandma) and mom to three children ages 26, 16 and 9 and lives in Treaty 7 territory with her husband, Jonathan, and their 70 lb Australian-Shephard Poodle cross, Schrödinger.
Deanna is both an engineer and technologist who began her career in 1998 as a technician analyzing oil sands in a Calgary laboratory. She brings over 20 years of experience in energy and pipelines, and is passionate about global energy transitions, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She helps STEM-focused organizations meaningfully welcome perspectives and knowledge from Indigenous peoples in Canada and the United States. She is a Senior Instructor at the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering.
Her lived experience as a child expatriate in Singapore, First Nations adoptee and youth mentor led to a love for finding cross-collaboration opportunities between youth, government, Indigenous communities and industries. Due to her experience from a young age as a formally trained pianist, vocalist and musical theatre performer, Deanna believes that incorporating the Arts in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math will engage future diverse perspectives into STEM (STEAM).
Deanna is co-founder and co-president of IndigeSTEAM, an Alberta based non-profit focused on creating ethical space for Indigenous youth and professionals in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). As a Board Member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) she co-leads the Education and Professional Development committees. She also serves on the Board of Contemporary Calgary Arts and the Canadian Heavy Oil Association as well as several Indigenous advisory groups across Canada and the United States.
- Classical and quantum gravity
- Quantum information
Training: Dr. Rezai obtained his BSc in Mechanical Engineering, MSc in Electrical Engineering (Microsystems Technology), and PhD in Mechanical Engineering (Bio-Microfluidics) in Iran, Sweden, and Canada, respectively. He was an NSERC Visiting Fellow at the Public Health Agency of Canada in Guelph, ON before starting his academic career at York University in 2013. Currently, he is an Associate Professor and the director of the Advanced Center for Microfluidic Technology and Engineering (ACµTE) at Lassonde School of Engineering, York University in Toronto, ON, Canada.
Research: Dr. Rezai’s research is in the field of microfluidics and Lab-on-Chips (LoC). His research has resulted in substantial external funding, training of students, and dissemination of knowledge in many papers, conference presentations, patents, and book chapters. The research of Dr. Rezai and his group has been appraised by awards and recognitions including a 2019 Early Researcher Award, a 2021 IW Smith CSME Award, a 2021 President’s Emerging Research Leadership Award, and a 2022 CSME Fellowship; as well as cover articles at Soft Matter, Lab-on-a-Chip, Colloids and Surfaces B, and ACS Omega journals. Dr. Rezai is an Editorial Board member of Nanotechnology for Environmental Eng. journal, an Associate Editor at Frontiers in Lab on a Chip Technologies journal, a Topic Editor of Biosensors and Fluids journals, and a Guest Editor of Micromachines Journal.
Dr. Rezai’s research interest is in the fundamental understanding of interactions between fluids and nano- to micro-scale biological substances in their micro-environment habitats using biomimetic microfluidic devices and to employ this knowledge to devise microsystems for facilitating research and development in human health and safety applications. His group has developed
(i) micro-electro-mechanical sensors and actuators to exploit composite functional polymers and nano-structures as sensing materials in LoC devices;
(ii) LoC for quantitative investigation of sensory-motor responses of disease model organisms (e.g. D. melanogaster, C. elegans, and D. rerio) to various physical and chemical cues; and
(iii) microfluidic platforms for multiplexed sorting and detection of microorganisms and biomarkers in fluidic samples (Point-of-Care and Point-of-Need Biosensors).
- Micro and Nanofabrication
- Micro and Nanofluidics
- Lab-on-Chips and Bio-Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems
- Organisms- and Organs-on-a-Chip for Disease Studies and Drug Discovery
- Particle and Cell Separation and Sorting for Point-of-Need Sample Preparation and Biodetection
Senior Project Engineer Transportation – BridgesHossein Azimi finished his BSc and MSc in Iran in 2006, focusing on structural and earthquake engineering. He worked in a consulting firm in Iran during his MSc and after. He then moved to Canada in 2006 and started his PhD at Concordia University, during which time bridge engineering became his new interest. He then moved to Toronto and worked at Ryerson University, focusing on applied research in bridge engineering for the Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO). This work was a great transition, as Hossein wanted to work in the bridge industry in Canada. He then moved to Calgary and was hired by WSP Canada. Hossein is currently a Senior Project Engineer with more than 11 years of professional engineering experience and 7 years of applied research experience. He holds a PhD in the area of bridge engineering, has authored a book in bridge analysis/dynamics along with several bridge-related technical publications in peer-reviewed journals and conferences, and has won several awards. Hossein has excellent capabilities in project management, structural analysis and design, superstructure and substructure design for major new bridges, retaining wall design, bridge condition assessment and rehabilitation design, construction supervision, tender preparation, seismic analysis, and culvert design and construction. He also has experience in the condition assessment and structural and foundation design of steel and concrete buildings in Canada and Iran.
Junior Geotechnical Engineer
Amin Bigdeli is a junior geotechnical engineer at WSP Canada Inc. in Vancouver, BC. Amin received his BASc in Civil Engineering in 2010 and his MASc in Geotechnical Engineering in 2013 at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) in UAE. Amin continued his education and received his PhD in Geotechnical Engineering in 2018 from UBC. Since joining WSP in 2018, he has worked as a geotechnical engineer in a broad range of projects, including bridges and highways, mines and dams, industrial, and pipelines.
Amin has geotechnical engineering experience in subsurface investigation, shallow and pile foundation design, retaining wall design, settlement analysis, slope stability assessment, seismic site-response analysis and liquefaction assessment. He has also developed numerical and modeling skills with variety of geotechnical software such as Rocscience Package, LPile, Slope/w, DeepSoil, CLiq, Plaxis, and FLAC.
Spécialiste en changements climatiques / Climate Change Specialist Changements climatiques, résilience et développement durable / Climate Change, Resilience & SustainabilityYann is a climate change specialist with a strong academic background in climate sciences and climate modeling. After completing a bachelor's degree in physics in Switzerland and Germany and a master’s degree in climate sciences in France, he received his PhD in climate modeling in 2016. Yann has extensive experience in modeling complex systems, analyzing large datasets, and managing projects regarding climatology, climate change, and climate impact assessments. At WSP, he uses his skills to inform various projects across sectors and disciplines of the expected consequences of anthropogenic climate change, to conduct climate resilience assessments for infrastructure and industry projects, and to design climate adaptation plans for various communities. Among others, he contributed to the large-scale climate vulnerability assessment of all public infrastructure of the 33 communities of the Northwest Territories in Canada. This assessment is now a key starting point to assess the climate resilience of any infrastructure projects in the territories. Yann managed research projects on the evolution of extreme weather conditions in Canada, and the impacts of climate change and precipitation regimes. He joined WSP Canada in 2019 after two years of post-doctoral research on the economic impacts of heat exposure. With a solid sense of ethics and a strong scientific background, Yann is passionate about solving problems that climate change can cause to buildings of new infrastructure, the health and the productivity of human societies, and the maintenance of ecosystems.
Ikenna H. Ezenwajiaku
Ikenna received his B.Eng. in Polymer & Textile Engineering from Federal University of Technology, Owerri in Nigeria in 2010. He then moved to Canada in 2014 to pursue an M.Eng. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Ottawa before transferring to Queen’s University in 2015 to pursue his PhD in Chemical Engineering. He collaborated with BASF as part of his doctoral thesis project to investigate the copolymerization kinetics of water-soluble cationic monomers and utilize the results to develop mechanistic models. After graduation in 2020, Ikenna worked on as a postdoctoral researcher first on a Queen’s University-BASF partnership project where he developed polymeric surfactants for coatings and industrial applications and then on a McMaster University-Suncor Energy Inc. partnership project where he focused on polymer synthesis for anti-infective coatings applications as well as development of bio-based nanocarriers for transportation of bioactives in agricultural formulations. Ikenna currently works at International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) as a Research Polymer Scientist. In addition to his academic and professional pursuits, Ikenna is passionate about STEM outreach in the community, in particular as it relates to solving environmental problems.
Lakshmi Varaha Iyer
Dr. Lakshmi Varaha Iyer is an Engineering Manager with Magna International’s Corporate R&D division. Dr. Iyer is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Windsor. Dr. Iyer holds MASc. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of Windsor, Canada and a B.Tech. degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from SASTRA University, India. He has been innovating in the area of electric machines and power electronic systems for electrified automotive and renewable energy applications since 2008 in the roles of Intern in Infineon Technologies; Graduate student, Research Associate, Research Scientist and Industry Liaison Officer, Adjunct Professor at the University of Windsor; Technical Specialist and Engineering Manager at Magna International Inc. Dr. Iyer has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers in international conferences and journals has published over 20 patents. He was a recipient of the 2017 Governor General’s Gold Medal in Canada and one among North America’s “30 under 30” honored by Society of Manufacturing Engineers in 2018. He was also a recipient of NSERC CGS and OGS awards in 2014 during his doctoral studies at the University of Windsor. He is an Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics and Senior Member of IEEE.
Senior Geotechnical Engineer Team Lead, Pavements and FoundationsNikol is a senior geotechnical engineer and team lead for the geotechnical roads and highways team at WSP. She has more than 17 years of experience in the transportation and civil infrastructure sector, and has been involved on multiple major urban freeway upgrade projects in the Greater Toronto Area (Ontario), numerous civil infrastructure projects in Ontario and Alberta, several geohazard projects within the National Parks of Canada and in Alberta, and mining projects in Alberta and the Dominican Republic. Nikol completed her bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Toronto and her PhD at Hokkaido University in Japan, with her research focusing on the microstructure of clay. In practice, Nikol has worked in multiple sectors, focusing primarily on infrastructure.
Project Manager, Bridges
Nima Mahmoudi, PhD, PEng, PMP, is a Lead Structural Engineer/ Project Manager at WSP with over 12 years of structural engineering experience in design, evaluation, rehabilitation, seismic assessment and retrofit, fatigue analysis, inspection, and construction liaison of a variety of structures such as highway, railway, LRT and pedestrian bridges, culverts, and retaining walls.
He received his PhD from McGill University for his research on seismic fragility assessment of highway bridges. His research covered different aspects such as seismicity estimations, structural analyses and evaluations, field tests, model verifications and validations, developing probabilistic models, fragility assessments and machine learning applications. His research proposed a probabilistic machine learning system to predict vulnerability of highway bridges under seismic events.
Eskedil Melese is a Professional Civil Engineer with more than fifteen years of active industry and academic experience. He got his:
· BSc degree in Civil Engineering from Arba Minch University, Arba Minch, Ethiopia in 2005
· MSc degree in Road and Transport Engineering from Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa Ethiopia, in 2014 and
· PhD degree in Civil Engineering from University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada in 2020.
From 2005 to 2015, Eskedil had been working as a Pavement/Materials Engineer for a civil engineering consultant in Ethiopia. During this period he had involved in several road and airport pavement design and construction supervision projects.
In 2016, he came to Canada to start his PhD program. He did his PhD in pavement rehabilitation with full-depth reclamation technology and graduated in 2020. He then started his career in Canada as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Waterloo in March, 2020. In Sept. 2020, he joined PSI Technologies Inc. as a Materials Engineering Analyst and worked there for a year and half. Currently, he is working for WSP Canada as a Pavement Engineer.
In his spare time, Eskedil enjoys watching movies and soccer games, reading books, and spending time with friends.
Project Engineer Transportation & Infrastructure – Bridge EngineeringNasim Rezaei is a project engineer with over seven years of structural engineering experience in design, evaluation, rehabilitation, seismic and reliability assessment, cost estimation and construction liaison of a variety of structures such as highway and railway bridges, retaining walls, overhead electric transmission lines, and marine structures. Nasim received her PhD from McGill University following the completion of her research in reliability assessment of overhead electric transmission lines subjected to climatic hazards. Her research covered various aspects such as analysis of overhead electric transmission lines and foundations, sustainability and climate change impacts on reliability of existing transmission lines, application of machine learning methods in developing limit states for systems including multiple interrelated structures (lattice towers connected by cables), development of fragility curves for individual structures, as well as systems, recommendations for asset management and resource allocation strategies during extreme climatic events.
Principal Director, Research & Innovation
Anna is Principal Director, Research & Innovation at WSP Canada, where she creates opportunities to advance, share, and adopt new knowledge and practice across the company in engineering, science and planning fields. Anna’s technical background is in infrastructure asset management. In her previous role as Technical in the Global Asset Management team, Anna advised public asset owners globally on measuring and communicating the need to invest billions of dollars annually into infrastructure.
Anna’s PhD research focused on the socio-economic implications of infrastructure that doesn’t perform as well as service users would like. She is passionate about the behavioural, smart, and green alternatives to traditional infrastructure.
Ingénieur sénior en géotechnique / Senior Geotechnical Engineer
Civil et géotechnique / Civil and Geotechnical Engineering
Énergie, ressources et industrie / Energy, Resources & Industry
Marc Smith is a senior geotechnical engineer with thirty-six years of experience in dam safety and civil engineering. He worked with Hydro-Québec from 1986 to 2019 and joined WSP in 2019. He was involved in the design and construction of numerous large embankment dams as well as surveillance and monitoring of structures during the impoundment and operation phases. He realized various specialized dam safety analyses and reviews in Quebec and in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Mr. Smith conducted many geotechnical research projects with Hydro-Québec’s Research Institute and the Industrial Research Chair on Embankment Dams of Université Laval where he is an Associate Professor. He is also a lecturer at the École Polytechnique de Montréal for graduate courses on dam engineering and serves as a Canadian representative in the European Working Group on Internal Erosion. Mr. Smith was involved in the Risks Technical Committee of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering. He participated in many activities for the promotion of scientific careers and is actively involved in his community. Mr. Smith has won awards recognizing the excellence of his research and his community work.
Thanks to his extensive experience in design, construction, and analysis of embankment dams along with his work in applied research projects, Mr. Smith developed a wide and varied expertise in the field of geotechnical engineering and dam safety.
Engineering Consultant in Safety, Risk, Reliability and Licensing
Nuclear Power, Petrochemical & Urban Transit
Keivan Torabi holds four chemical engineering degrees, including a BSc (Shiraz University), a MSc (Sharif University of Technology), a MASc (University of Toronto), and a PhD (University of Toronto). Keivan’s diverse educational background includes areas such as mathematical modelling, computer simulation of simultaneous momentum, heat and mass transfer in multicomponent distillation columns, quantitative FTIR polymer characterization, and application of data mining tools, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques, combined with computer vision, for real-time image analysis and object detection in manufacturing. Keivan was a seasonal instructor at the University of Toronto and Ryerson University for a few years after his PhD was completed.
Keivan has more than 25 years of engineering experience in oil & gas, nuclear power generation, and transportation. He has worked in refineries and petrochemical plants for 5 years, the Canadian nuclear industry (CANDU) for 20 years, and he is currently working on safety certification of urban transit systems conducting Safety, Risk and Reliability assessment (RAMS) for large and complex driverless subway systems in Canada and internationally.
Keivan has worked at Shell and Esso refineries, Ontario Power Generation Pickering and Darlington nuclear stations, Atomic Energy Canada Limited (AECL), Candu Energy (SNC-Lavalin), AMEC, Thales, and WSP Canada.
Keivan’s primary expertise is in advanced data analysis, including statistical data analysis, data mining, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), computer visions, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). His thesis in the application of artificial intelligence in real-time image analysis in polymer film manufacturing and mechatronics was published 15 years ago, when AI was not fad or a buzz word, and AI applications in engineering were mostly unnoticed. His papers in diverse areas are cited by other researchers in different fields globally.
Keivan has always worked in multidisciplinary and heavily regulated industries and is currently working on Safety and Reliability (RAMS) of driverless Communication-Based Train Control (CBTC) systems, developing Engineering Safety Case, conducting deterministic and probabilistic safety analyses, and Quantitative Risk-Assessment (QRA), based on CENELEC standards for European and North American train operators.
Keivan is a Professional Engineer (PEng), and has served as a Regional Councillor between 2018 to 2020 at the Association of Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), a self-regulating body of professional engineers in Ontario, Canada.
Responsable des relations avec les Autochtones | Indigenous relations leader
Conseiller en milieu humain | Human environment adviser
Science de le terre et environnement | Earth and environment
Paul Wattez is the Indigenous Relations Leader at WSP Canada. He is in support of the human environment team in various provincial and national mandates regarding environmental and social impact studies, environmental monitoring (social issues), anthropological studies, ethnological studies, land use studies, traditional knowledge and consent in Indigenous communities. It’s with the Iyiyiwch (Crees of Quebec), with whom he has worked for the last twelve years (2008-2020), and other First Nations in Quebec, notably the Atikamekw Nehirowisiwok, the Innu and the Waban-Aki, as well as the Indigenous community of Montreal, that Paul developed his experience as a professional. Paul holds a PhD in social and cultural anthropology from the University of Montreal (2020). Based on an ethnographical work, his thesis focused on the alternative ways the Iyiyiwch engage with the western process of heritage making by implementing their own epistemological, ontological and political principles to transfer their iyiyiw local knowledge and values. His research also focused on relations to the land and communities, intra and intercultural conflicts, as well as collaboration and decolonization of research and education.