Sustainable civil engineering from a global perspective

"Remain curious and never stop searching."

Haibo Feng

Haibo Feng

  • Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
  • Grad year: 2021
  • Program: Civil Engineering
  • Campus: Okanagan

I am an Engineering researcher that is always interested in construction technologies, and that is why I have my major in construction management from Bachelor to PhD degrees. I am always excited to see the construction progress, as there are new things happening everyday on site. While I was working in the Middle East as a site engineer, I enjoyed the 400m panoramic views on top of Al-Hamra tower and the overnight working to meet the milestones. As an Engineering designer in BC, Canada, I struggled with the CAD drafting techniques while enjoying the coordination time with the clients, city planners and construction managers. In academia, I cherished the moment when the paper was published, and enjoyed the deep discussion with the peer-researchers and anybody interested in my research topic of sustainable construction. During my spare time, I like to have outdoor activities with my friends and enjoy some hot-pot and BBQ with full happiness.

Why did you choose to go into your field of study at UBC?

I am always interested with the theories behind all the engineering infrastructures we live in, and I am also enthusiastic to communicate with people based on my personality. The construction management program under civil engineering in UBC is famous globally due to its close link with industry and practical course setup that trains the class to be ready for work right after graduation. Of course, I should also mention the beauty of the campus and UBC ranking. All of these made me decide to spend 6 years of my life here doing wonderful research on sustainable construction and support the local community on green city development.

What has made your time at UBC memorable?

First of all, I want to show the gratitude to my MASc supervisor Dr. Kasun Hewage again who brought me into UBC construction management program, as well as all the other professors and colleagues that brought me the best life experience.

The first thing I missed the most after I left UBC is the research environment that I enjoyed in the Life Cycle Management Lab. There are more than 30 researchers from different countries with similar research background. We all work on different projects with the local authorities as well as industries, and share the fun moments and tough challenges. The friendship developed during the research made the journey much more joyful.

The second thing I missed the most is the friendly relationship among the professors and staff from the School of Engineering. All the professors are available for research and personal life discussions. Furthermore, the supporting staff are considerate and creative which makes our life as a research student much easier.

The third thing is all the teaching opportunities we can apply to either as a teaching assistant or module leader throughout the graduate studies, which makes a huge difference when we look for academic jobs.

There are a lot more to remember, but I have to mention all the Wednesday chicken wings and annual culture nights we had among our research colleagues. Cheers!

What advice would you give a student entering your degree program?

“Work hard, play hard” is the basic principle I applied into my life.

It would be challenging in the beginning no matter whether you enter the undergraduate or graduate program, since you are joining a new level of academic studies. There are so many excellent professors in varieties of research areas that are changing the world. Don’t panic and take your time, you will get used to the pattern very soon. For certain, you should always try your best.

On the other hand, do find some time to meet new friends and join the social events happening on campus. There are so many new graduate students like yourself that are looking for someone to meet. Don’t be shy— be proactive and talk to the people you meet at the graduate lounge or on the grass. I am sure they will return you with a lot of great stories and nice company. These are the best surprises that keep you moving during the graduate studies.

The last thing I want to mention is: talk to your lecturers. They have so much more to offer to you if you work hard and prove yourself.

What are your future plans to make a difference in our world?

As an assistant professor in Northumbria University in the UK, I already started applying the knowledge I learnt in UBC to help locals for carbon emission reductions through digital constructions. I am working on a project to use IoT systems to improve the resilience of urban infrastructure, and I am also involved with a proposal to test the impacts of existing building renovations on indoor air quality through sensors.

With the sustainability concepts I learned from UBC, I will practice as a promoter on sustainable construction through technology and digital applications. I am going to conduct related courses, such as construction technology, that include the advanced sustainable technologies in construction to the undergraduates and graduates. Then, the students I teach will bring this information to the industry and push the industry towards sustainability. On the other hand, I will keep seeking research collaborations with the local authorities through public grants and private sector integrations.

In the long run, I will keep working on and learning about sustainable construction, meet new colleagues globally in the same research field, and contribute to the global research community to achieve a better environment and healthier society.

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