Austin Engineering staff photo from 2017.

Innovative Kootenay partnership wins clean energy award

The award is being given for their unique partnership that has developed innovative solutions

TRAIL — Austin Engineering Ltd., together with Selkirk College and FortisBC are winners of the Clean Energy BC ‘Operational Excellence’ award, which will be presented at the Clean Energy BC Generate 2017 Conference in Vancouver later this month.

The award is being given for their unique partnership that has developed innovative solutions to support the future operations of one of FortisBC’s ‘extreme consequence’ dams, as well as build opportunities and access for Selkirk College students to work with industry.

Austin Engineering works closely with students at Selkirk College to develop 3D printed models of FortisBC’s Corra Linn dam, an ‘extreme consequence’ dam on the Kootenay River.

Students have access to Austin Engineering’s dedicated research and development lab, as well as their office, to create 3D printed models and schematics of the dam that FortisBC then uses for future work planning, improved stakeholder engagement, evaluating cost-effective solutions and developing improved environmental outcomes for their facility operations.

“It is tremendously exciting to expand Austin Engineering’s services in the 3D printing and hydraulic modelling of dams with FortisBC and Selkirk College”, says Mary Austin, Director of Business Development at Austin Engineering. “We are so proud to receive Clean Energy BC’s Operational Excellence Award and look forward to continuing our work together with this great team.”

This partnership is bridging gaps between education and industry and providing state-of-the-art innovative solutions for a large hydropower company through a local engineering company — a first of its kind in Canada.

“We are happy that FortisBC, Selkirk College and Austin Engineering are being recognized for this cutting-edge project”, says Darren McElhinney, Senior Project Manager, Generation, FortisBC Inc.

“This technology provides real-time modelling of the Corra Linn dam against numerous factors, which is a powerful tool in portraying project concepts and details to diverse audiences. Our team believes that 3D modelling is a cost-effective and innovative method that can be used on projects from concept through to completion, and we are excited to see how it develops.”

Jason Taylor, Selkirk College Instructor says, “Applied Research at Selkirk College has benefited tremendously from this project. Working with such a great team of industry partners and having our student, Ben Marken, play such an important role has been truly inspiring.”

Instructional Dean, Rhys Andrews echoes those sentiments and says, “It is a great honour to receive Clean Energy BC’s Operational Excellence Award.”

As a student working with the team, Ben says, “I’ve gained valuable skills partnering with Austin Engineering, FortisBC, and Selkirk College. Being able to contribute to projects beyond the scope of school assignments has been an amazing and rewarding challenge. I’m excited to be a part of what comes next”.

Austin Engineering is further advancing this idea by collaborating with Applied Laboratory for Advanced Materials and Structures (ALAMS) at UBC’s Okanagan campus where shake table tests will be conducted on 3D printed and digitally fabricated gravity dams to determine the potential damage during seismic events, and to identify critical locations for possible retrofitting.

Dr. Shahria Alam of UBC says “he is excited to collaborate with Austin Engineering where our graduate students will be exposed to real-world research problems in identifying the critical locations for seismic retrofitting of a concrete dam.”

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