Civil Engineering Department


Preamble: Every year, III year civil engineering students are required to participate in a field project that emphasizes the application of engineering knowledge and skills to real life tasks. This field project is part of the curriculum for students enrolled in the Civil Engineering program. Upon completion, students will be assigned a grade that will represent their final mark for CEE 393 Civil Engineering Field School as detailed in Ref. F. This year, through a partnership with Base Construction Engineering (BCE) from 19 Wing Comox, students were involved in projects in the vicinity of Comox, British Columbia.

The aim of this article is to show the importance of this exchange between RMCC and different CFBs and to hi-light the abilities that students showed in the field to do their theoretical course with practical projects on the ground.

Capt Omar Hadad – |Lecturer –  Department of Civil Engineering


III Year Civil Engineering Students Apply Their Skills Into Real-life Engineering Problems At CFB Comox


The Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC) Civil Engineering class of 2015 recently visited CFB Comox in British Columbia as part of their degree required CEE393 Civil Engineering Field School course. The purpose of this course was to apply theoretical principles learned in class to develop possible solutions to real life engineering problems. The Construction Engineers (CE) of 19 Wing, CFB Comox gives us opportunity to the Civil Engineering, RMCC class to assess 4 of their ongoing engineering quandaries.

Prior to deploying, the class was split into 4 Groups of 6 Officer Cadets, where each group was assigned a project and a project supervisor. The intent of each group was to provide detailed, accurate and useful information to 19 Wing CE in order to aid in the development of possible solutions for problem areas located on the base. The 4 problems that 19 Wing CE currently face are: 1) Queen’s Ditch Flooding Control, 2) Shoreline Stability and Erosion Control, 3) Storage Facility Design, and 4) Water Treatment Supply and Distribution. These 4 projects, along with their respective supervisors, would provide the challenge of applying 3 years of acquired engineering knowledge into producing detailed, logical, and practical solutions.

The students arrived at CFB Comox on 03 May 14 and were introduced to their respective areas of responsibility (AORs) following a ground assessment of their objectives. Group 1 was required to analyse the slope stability of the cliffs surrounding the base adjacent to the Georgia Strait waterway. During the week, they examined the water tables, soil types and slopes in the area and recreated an approximation of flow rate into the Georgia Strait from the surrounding cliff faces. As a result, they investigated a variety of options to mitigate the effects of soil erosion on the embankments and made a recommendation of the most appropriate choice. Their choice was presented to 19 Wing CE where many factors were taken into consideration for their design option including both cost effectiveness and safety.

Caption: This image shows the members of Group 2, aka, Canoe Operational Survey Team (COST). Also seen here are the Geomatics tech Larry Harvey (left) and the OPI Capt. Hadad.

The second engineering problem facing 19 Wing CE is the Queen’s Ditch, which was Group 2’s responsibility. The ditch is widely known in the area as “the ditch that nobody wants” because of its many complications, history in the area and its length which is approximately 3km. The ditch entails many legal implications due the surrounding farmer’s fields, residential areas and its habitation by Coho salmon, which means the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) have a stake in any remediation measures taken. The group decided that, due to time constraints, it would be beneficial to both the community of Comox and 19 Wing CE to provide a detailed survey of the Queen’s Ditch.


Caption: OCdt. Barry, OCdt .Clancey, and OCdt. Newcombe survey the Queen’s Ditch by utilising a canoe to get the deep areas.

This survey would show a recent schematic of the ditch cross-section and profile, which could be compared to old surveys of the ditch and would depict changes since 1997 when the ditch was last surveyed. The detailed survey was conducted using the Trimble 5700 Digital Global Positioning System (DGPS) equipment. To obtain the cross-section, 5 points of interest were recorded at the cross section of the ditch; a point on top of each embankment, a point on each side if the mid-section, and a point in the bottom center. The profile was obtained by doing this at 20-meter increments along the length of the ditch. Nearly 1,800 meters of the ditch was successfully surveyed and analysed using AutoCAD producing a detailed product for 19 Wing CE to use when developing a solution to the Queen’s Ditch problem.

Group 3’s project was to design a storage facility, which had to consist of three large bays, and ten small bays. Their first task was to do a ground assessment and determine the best area on the base for the facility. The group designed the facility such that it could easily be doubled if needed and decided upon a masonry structure with interior W-Shape columns and beams. It is approximately 4,160ft2 in size containing ten; 10’x20’ bays and three; 24’x30’ bays and costs approximately $500,000. The loading analysis was conducted for the structure and the appropriate columns and beams were selected and depicted using Revit.

Caption:  Members of Group 4, along with their supervisor Dr. Lamarche, pose with the plaque presented to the Civil Engineering class from 19 Wing CE in appreciation for everyone’s efforts.

The final project was the water treatment distribution and supply located on the base. Group 4 analysed the water flowing into two wells, which were located just off the base and stored in the present storage facility. Some concerns were whether the facility was located in a safe location and if it was constructed from the appropriate material, however; the main concern was which method was the most suitable to properly decontaminate the well water. The group members determined that the well could be contaminated from nearby runoff and that the most cost effective, and safest method; to use to purify the water was chlorine. The chlorine is to be stored in the current storage facility, which the group deemed to be insufficient in both the construction material and its location. The current facility is constructed of fibreglass, which is preferred over steel due to its reactive properties to chlorine. When chlorine reacts with steel, the steel becomes highly corrosive. Fibreglass has no reaction to chlorine, however it is not at all reinforced; therefore susceptible to vandalism or break and entry. Its location is off the base and although it is located inside a locked security fence, it is still unmanned and therefore under threat of possible interference. With all of these circumstances taken into consideration, Group 4 presented a new design and location for the water treatment distribution and supply system.

In conclusion, the 2015 Civil Engineering Field School in Comox, BC was a great way for the third year RMCC class to apply civil engineering skills into real-life engineering problems. The support and knowledge provided by the 19 Wing CE personnel – including Major Kirstead (WCEO), Captain Boyechko (requirement officer)) and Lieutenant Côté  (operations officer) – were greatly appreciated by staff and students of RMCC. The predicaments given by 19 Wing CE were challenging but allowed the cadets to think on their feet and ultimately, provided the Wing with useful analysis that could be used to solve some of the issues presented to the base.