March 15, 2023
Geomatics Engineering students showcased their talents in the National Geomatics Competition
From March 9th to 12th, two teams of geomatics engineering students from the University of Calgary showcased their talents in the 2023 National Geomatics Competition (NGC) hosted by Université Laval in Québec City. The NGC is a bilingual, student-led consulting engineering competition focused on geospatial topics, bringing together geomatics students and professionals from across Canada.
This was the first year that the problem statement was introduced by a real-world client: The Government of Northwest Territories. Since the 1960s, the Mackenzie Delta region and the Beaufort Sea in the Northwest Territories have been subject to oil and gas exploitation, resulting in over 200 drilling sumps. Initially designed to contain drilling waste in permafrost, these sumps now represent an environmental hazard due to permafrost degradation caused by climate change.
Students were tasked with establishing a data integration plan to strategically guide the acquisition, processing, and structuring of data related to sump monitoring, considering both existing data and new remote sensing opportunities. University of Calgary Team 1, including Seema Mustaqeem, Luc Nicolet, and Kristian Baranski, were the first to present their solution involving the use of a network of IoT ground sensors to measure key indicators within the sumps and flag any potential environmental hazards. These ground sensors would be visualized using a simple GIS web application – for use by the public, government officials, and other stakeholders.
University of Calgary Team 2, including Claire Mah, Hannah Poon, and Mabel Heffring, proposed a solution using microgravimetry and remote sensing for sump monitoring. By installing static accelerometers on top of sumps, changes in the mass distribution below could be detected through observations of the local gravity field. This idea was inspired by literature on micro-gravimetry for similar applications, including sinkhole hazard assessment in mines, mud chamber delineation on volcanoes, oil and gas prospecting, underground aquifer detection, and permafrost monitoring. This solution placed second in the 2023 National Geomatics Competition.
This competition provided students with hands-on experience in engineering consulting, while also raising awareness for Arctic preservation. Other highlights of the weekend include an aerial view of Québec City from L’Observatoire de la Capitale, a walking tour through Old Québec City, and a career fair with technology demonstrations from the NGC sponsors. With teams from Université de Sherbrooke, University of Calgary, University of New Brunswick, McMaster University and Université Laval, NGC was also an excellent opportunity for building connections with other geomatics and geoscience students from across Canada.
Thank you to the University of Calgary team sponsors for making this trip possible, including the Schulich School of Engineering Student Activity Fund, Hexagon and MTE Consultants.