What’s HappeningNewsInsights from the 2023 Allan Widger Consulting Corporation Grant Recipient

Insights from the 2023 Allan Widger Consulting Corporation Grant Recipient

March 12, 2024

The Allan Widger Consulting Corporation Grant offers up to $4,000 in financial support to young transportation geotechnical engineers. The grant helps the recipient attend key events hosted by the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC), including its spring and fall technical meetings and annual conference.

Read the report by Sarah Bouchard, Eng., Ph.D., Geotechnical Engineer at the Soil Mechanics Section of the Geotechnical and Geology Branch from the ministère des Transports et de la Mobilité durable du Québec. She shares her valuable experience as the Allan Widger Consulting Corporation Grant recipient in 2023.

Report from the 2023 Recipient of the Allan Widger Consulting Corporation Grant

In 2023, I was honoured to receive the Allan Widger Consulting Corporation Grant, awarded by TAC to recognize a young geotechnical engineer 35 years of age or younger working in the transportation field. Receiving this grant enabled me to participate in technical meetings of the TAC Soils and Materials Committee and the Pavements Committee and attend TAC’s annual conference. Participating gave me an in-depth look at issues and advances in road infrastructure and urban transportation.

The spring 2023 technical meetings examined a wide range of issues and topics. Although there were limited geotechnical topics, there were discussions about the challenges and opportunities concerning soils and materials in the transportation field. The technical meeting on soils and materials brought together between 50 and 60 participants. Discussions focussed on the progress of this subcommittee’s work, including follow-up on current projects, budget planning, and deadlines. An example of a topic covered was a presentation by a geotechnical engineer with the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, who discussed the impacts of intense rainfall on road infrastructure, highlighting the challenges encountered and the mitigation measures required. A second example of a topic at these technical meetings was calculating the reduction of CO2 emissions in concrete and asphalt production across the country, illustrating the growing importance of sustainability in infrastructure projects.

Participating in TAC’s annual conference in Ottawa from September 24 to 27, 2023, was also rewarding. This annual conference is the largest transportation conference in Canada, attracting about 1,400 professionals from various levels of government, the private sector, academia, and other organizations. Attending this conference allowed me to network with other players in the transportation sector, share knowledge, and explore current topics and new technologies. The conference gave me an overview of projects and issues across Canada, highlighting the importance of cross-sector collaboration to meet urban transportation challenges.

As a recipient of the Allan Widger Grant, attending the conference allowed me to immerse myself in TAC’s professional network and deepen my understanding of current issues in the transportation sector. The conference was efficiently organized, with several discussion sessions providing an ideal platform for sharing knowledge and ideas and promoting innovation. Participating in this conference has enriched my professional development by allowing me to question myself on a global level and with a broader perspective. Furthermore, the conference made me aware of the importance of sustainable road design, which considers future issues such as climate change and integrates the development of public and inclusive transportation.

In short, participating in the spring technical meetings and TAC’s annual conference were extremely beneficial experiences. They offered insights into the challenges and advances in road infrastructure and transportation in Canada. These events deepened my professional knowledge and established contacts within and outside my department in a context broader than geotechnical engineering.