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Student Engineering Project May Be World's First

The largest urban renewal project currently underway in Europe, has been the buzz of excitement and learning for civil engineering undergraduate students who designed a major portion as part of the final year design project of the engineering curriculum. Sixty-three University of Calgary Civil Engineering students celebrated what could be the largest class project of its kind anywhere in the world - a design proposal for a full-scale urban renewal development in Lisbon, Portugal.

The students' involvement in this gigantic project was brokered by Mr. Joseph Leung, P.Eng., a U of C senator and Vice President of Calgary's Marquis Communities Development Inc. and Dr. Chan Wirasinghe, Dean of Engineering. The project was formally evaluated by Dr. Tom Brown, Head of the Department of Civil Engineering, and selected as the fourth year design project for 2002/3. The project was funded by SGAL (Sociedade Gestoria da Alta de Lisboa), STDM (Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau), Schulich School of Engineering, and the Department of Civil Engineering. Dr. Janaka Ruwanpura, and Dr. Andrew MacIver, civil engineering professors, managed the course. A record number of 24 industry advisors, and 17 academic advisors assisted the students to design and manage this project.

Led by the Portuguese developer SGAL, this urban renewal project is situated on the northern boundary of Lisbon and is one of the last large undeveloped areas of the city. Students were required to incorporate housing, shopping, green spaces, city amenities, office space and related infrastructure into their design proposals.

The two student teams (named as "Benfica" and "Sporting" to reflect Lisbon's leading soccer teams) were subdivided into sub-groups that were responsible for "Area 5" of this development, which is approximately 12 hectares in size. These sub-groups consisted of at least one group looking at each of the following aspects: transportation, environmental, project management and infrastructure, geotechnical, and structural. Each of the two teams appointed a management committee consisting of the overall project manager and one member from each of the sub-groups. This committee was responsible for overall management of the team's activities and ensured liaison between the sub-groups. Twelve students and four academic advisors visited Lisbon in September 2002 to start this project.

The 63 students eagerly approached all communication, design, and management challenges during their 8-month academic year. They graduated from U of C with real life experience including an international flavour, that is significant for both its magnitude in terms of project size, as well as the multi-disciplinary teamwork that was involved with their fellow students, industry advisors, university faculty support, and Lisbon contacts. Rarely do Canadian or any academic institution offer a final year design project that is international and emphasizes technical, human resources, business, project management, and mainly civil engineering design aspects including structural, environmental, geotechnical, water resources, materials, transportation and construction. During the second week of May, 13 students from both teams, four academic advisors, Dean of Engineering, and 2 industry advisors were in Lisbon to present the students' design details and related project management issued to project developers and sponsors including Dr. Manuel Fernandes, Chairman of SGAL, Engineer Fransisco Borges of SGAL, Dr. Ambrose So, Director of STDM, and Mr. Manhin Choi, Director of Estoril Sol.