Civil and Environmental Engineering Technical Team receives Engineering Award of Recognition

The Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Technical Team at Western University, composed of Aiham Adawi, Melodie Richards, Caitlin Corcoran and Aly Ahmed, has been honoured with the prestigious Engineering Award of Recognition for 2023.

Their outstanding contributions to academics, research, innovation and public service within CEE department and the broader faculty have set a new standard of excellence.


Reflecting on their recognition, the team shared, "Being recognized for our contributions as technical staff feels incredibly gratifying and affirming. It validates the efforts we invest in supporting and empowering student initiatives. Knowing that our expertise and dedication are acknowledged not only motivates us but also strengthens our bond with the student community."

The team is lauded for their exceptional performance and dedication. In a letter, the chief nominator said, "Their contributions have significantly enriched our department and faculty, demonstrating superb performance in various domains."

The team's interdisciplinary expertise has been a cornerstone of their success, providing invaluable technical support to engineering clubs across the faculty. Notably, they designed an in-house device for prestressing concrete skis, leading the Western Engineering Toboggan Team (WETT) to victory in the 2023 Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR). "Their support was crucial to our success," said a member of WETT. "We couldn't have achieved this without their guidance and expertise."

Additionally, their supervision of the Western Engineering Steel Bridge (WESB) team marked the team’s inaugural participation in the 2023 Canadian National Steel Bridge Competition. The team extended their support to other engineering clubs, including the Western Engineering Concrete Canoe Association (WECCA), Western Baja SAE and the Formula One team, facilitating logistics and offering technical assistance. "Their involvement made a huge difference in our preparations and performance," commented a WESB team member.

The team has also been instrumental in advancing the technological capabilities of the CEE program, including the establishment of the new Smart Cities lab facility. They upgraded their technical skills to learn about new technologies in the field, such as drones, robotics and imaging. "Their adaptability and willingness to learn have been remarkable," said a faculty member. "They've equipped our labs with cutting-edge technology, greatly enhancing our research and teaching capabilities."

The department recently initiated a new program in Transportation Engineering and despite the field's applications being outside the team’s expertise, they provided essential support to establish two research laboratories. "Their ability to quickly adapt and provide support in unfamiliar areas is truly commendable," added another faculty member.

Reflecting on their inspiration, the team stated, "Throughout our journey in achieving this award, our inspiration and support have come from various sources within the Faculty of Engineering. Our fellow technical staff members, faculty leadership and the students themselves have all played significant roles in motivating us and reminding us of the importance of our support in facilitating success."

The CEE department's outreach activities have been significantly bolstered by the team's efforts. They played vital roles in events such as the CEE Open House, Polar Stick Bridge Competition, WindEEE tour, Western Engineering Summer Academy, Western Engineering Graduate Fair and Spring and Fall University Open Houses. "Their initiatives to showcase modern aspects of Civil and Environmental Engineering to first-year students were remarkable," noted a participant in the outreach activities. "They’ve made a lasting impression on prospective students."

The team's outreach efforts extend beyond Western, as they enthusiastically arranged and ran a booth for the department at the 2024 CSCE national conference in Niagara Falls. "Their enthusiasm and dedication in developing materials for the booth have given excellent visibility to Western Engineering," said a faculty member.

The team's commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration is exemplified by their support for research projects across multiple departments and industrial partners. Noteworthy collaborations include their involvement in the "3D printed open-source walker for life-long mobility" project and ongoing support for instrumental, analytical and materials testing for research projects in MME, CBE and with industrial partners. "Their collaborative mindset and technical support have been invaluable to our projects," commented a researcher from the MME department.

The CEE Technical Team provides invaluable hands-on learning experiences for undergraduate students, ensuring they have practical exposure to complement their theoretical knowledge. They offer crucial support to both graduate and undergraduate research projects by facilitating in-depth training, supporting test set-ups, data collection and interpretation of results. "Their dedication to teaching and supporting research projects has enriched our educational experience," said a graduate student. "They foster a dynamic learning environment that encourages critical thinking and innovation."

The team also contributes to teaching undergraduate and graduate-level courses, imparting valuable insights and practical skills to students. "Their involvement in our courses has been transformative," noted a faculty member. "They bring a practical perspective that greatly enhances our curriculum."

Moreover, their efforts in executing successful research contracts with various industries have been emphasized in numerous support letters, which include endorsements from faculty members, students and industry representatives.

"I have had the privilege of working with Melodie, Caitlin, Aiham and Aly for many years. Their exceptional problem-solving, leadership and collaborative skills make them invaluable assets to Western Engineering,” said one industry partner. “Melodie’s initiative and creativity in managing lab equipment, Caitlin’s intellect and hard work in running the Geoenvironmental lab, Aiham’s conscientious and inspiring commitment to research and Aly’s proactive leadership and support for students all contribute significantly to our research and teaching efforts.”

Another partner said, “I have seen firsthand the efforts that the CEE technical team puts in to ensure that experiments run as smoothly as possible, working alongside professors to facilitate setups, demonstrations, training sessions and workshops. Their high level of expertise combined with their diverse set of knowledge as a team guarantees that support is always available.”

The team expressed their gratitude for the recognition, saying, "Recognition inspires us to continue providing high-quality support and guidance to student projects, knowing that our contributions are valued and appreciated."

As for advice to others aspiring to achieve similar recognition, the team offered, "Strive for excellence in everything you do, embrace continuous learning, build strong relationships, be proactive and resourceful, stay resilient and seek feedback and mentorship. By following these principles and staying dedicated to your goals, you can pave the way for success in your career journey."

The CEE Technical Team's unwavering commitment to excellence, innovative spirit and collaborative mindset make them exceptional candidates for the Engineering Award of Recognition. Their contributions have significantly enriched the academic and research landscape within the department and across the faculty. Congratulations to Aiham Adawi, Melodie Richards, Caitlin Corcoran and Aly Ahmed on this well-deserved honour.