Beneath the Cranes


University of Alberta
Student Contributor



Editor’s Note: Josh Kjenner is this year’s University of Alberta Faculty of Engineering student contributor to The PEGG. He’ll graduate in May from the co-op program with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering.

Josh, who’s from Fort Saskatchewan, plays a number of sports, including hockey, slow-pitch, golf and volleyball. He also writes for The Gateway – and admits to “solving second-order multi-variable differential equaitions late into the night.”

While strolling about the University of Alberta campus, one comes across a number of things. There are students avoiding homework by playing Frisbee, students avoiding homework by playing cards, students avoiding homework by doing nothing, and, increasingly, there are cranes.

At the bottom of two of these cranes is the almost completed Allan P. Markin/Canadian Natural Resources Natural Resources Engineering Facility. NREF, as it’s known, will be the new home of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and all of its associated divisions.

The completion of this building marks a very exciting time for the department. First, this $65-million building contains over 100 research and teaching laboratories in its nine storeys and 30,000 square metres of floor space, giving students more room than ever. Also included within this space are laser, drilling, rock fracture mechanics and hydraulics laboratories, among others.

One interesting feature of NREF is its “heat wheels.” There is one of these devices in each of the four air-handling units in the building, and they allow for some of the heat from exhaust air to be recycled.

Also, as could be expected, this facility is highly connected: high-speed Internet access is available throughout. In fact, there is enough data cable contained within NREF to stretch all the way from the beautiful U of A campus to the U of C.

Mike Badry did a co-op stint working on the project management side of the faculty’s next new complex – the Allan P. Markin/Canadian Natural Resources Natural Resources Engineering Facility.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this building, at least from the department’s perspective, is that all of the divisions within civil and environmental engineering will now be under one roof. Petroleum, mining, environmental, geotechnical, water resources, structural and construction engineering, previously housed in 10 buildings, will all be calling NREF home.

Myke Badry (civil co-op, ’05) spent his last co-op term working for Stantec Consulting Ltd. on the project management of NREF. When asked what some of the most important features of the new building were from an undergraduate perspective, he immediately mentioned the space allotted for students. “For student groups and study space, it’s excellent.”

For people outside of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the thing that comes to mind about NREF is the striking and visual appeal of the building. “It’s one of the most architecturally pleasing buildings on campus, inside and out,” says Mr. Badry.

Mr. Badry is also happy to see the many branches of the department finally being able to call one building home. “It’s beneficial because everyone can draw upon shared resources,” he says.

The construction of NREF marks another major achievement for the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Alberta. With the recent construction of the Engineering Teaching and Learning Centre, and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Research Facility, the construction of the National Institute for Nanotechnology currently in progress, it is a truly exciting time to be an engineering student at the U of A.


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