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The Centre for the Effective Design of Structures

The Centre assists industry in the development of cost-effective products and construction processes through sponsored and collaborative research. In addition, it is a goal of the Centre to increase recognition of the value of effective design to include optimum design, including timeliness of completion of construction.



The initiative to establish the Centre for Effective Design of Structures has resulted in the following visible impacts:

  • A tenure-track University funded faculty position was created and has been filled by Dr. Samir Chidiac.
  • The Ontario Masonry Contractors' Association donated $1 million to help endow the Martini, Mascarin and George Chair in Masonry Design.
  • Joe Ng and JNE Consulting have donated $1 million to help endow the Joe Ng/JNE Consulting Chair in Design, Construction and Management in Infrastructure Renewal.
  • Canadian Masonry Contractors' Association has contributed $500,000, the Ontario Concrete Block Association has contributed $125,000, Sobotec Ltd. has contributed $100,000, Canadian Plastics Industry Association has contributed $45,000, Atlas Block has contributed $80,000, and Brampton Brick has contributed $150,000 towards a $1 million endowment for a Chair in Effective Design of Structures.
  • Funding through the Centre created a new research technician position.
  • Funding through the Centre has supported 8 research engineer / post-doctoral fellow positions.
  • Funding through the Centre has provided financial support for 71 graduate students. For the past year, enrollment included 49 graduate students in structures.
  • Funding through the Centre has provided financial support for undergraduate summer research engineers each year, 25 students have been supported so far.


The basic objective of the Centre is to link research with education to produces engineers who:

  • understand durability of materials.
  • possess advanced analytical skills.
  • can identify client-specific needs.
  • can integrate design with the construction process.
  • can integrate sustainability considerations including maintenance and service life.
  • can include building envelope and services considerations.

The Centre will assist industry in development of cost-effective products and construction processes through sponsored and collaborative research. In addition, it is a goal of the Centre to increase recognition of the value of effective design to include optimum design, including timeliness of completion of construction. Also, the Centre will focus on practices that satisfy the need for comprehensive evaluation and documentation of design to limit extra costs, delays, compromised utility, and high operating and maintenance costs.


Research Areas

McMaster will continue to serve the traditional structural research needs in concrete and steel construction and modern solid mechanics and structural analysis areas. In addition to serving identified needs of the 21st century, the Centre will focus on the following areas which help to differentiate McMaster University from other Canadian Universities:

Masonry: Materials, Design and Construction.

This long standing area of strength and of extensive industrial collaboration is being expanded to provide leadership and a unique ability to assist the masonry industry. Targeted educational efforts and practical application of the results of research are progressing.

Earthquake Engineering.

McMaster's historical strength in this area, which was reduced through recent retirements, is being re-established. The increased importance of earthquake loading in design signifies the continuing importance of research and education in this area.

Investigation and Remediation of Structures.

Canada's built infrastructure is aging and has reached the point that repair or replacement is a growing requirement. Methods to investigate the condition of structures and to analyze current conditions and retrofitted conditions are required. This includes upgrade and / or repair of the building envelope. In addition, retrofit techniques need to be developed and refined for effective strengthening and development of effective resistance to seismic forces.

Enhanced Use of New and Under-Utilized Materials

Construction is a very traditional area making it difficult for new materials to gain market acceptance. Plastics, fibre reinforcement, and new composites are examples of emerging new materials. In addition, some materials that have existed for some time have potential that has only been partially developed. Over the long term, this focus area is likely to become the largest area of collaboration with industry.

Some of the general thrusts that will be incorporated into the above focus areas include:

  • Service life modelling (including life cycle costing)
  • Construction Methodology and Management
  • Integration of Building Science / Building Envelope


Endowment of the Martini, Mascarin and George Chair in Masonry Design was an initiative of the Ontario Masonry Contractors Association unparalleled in the history of the masonry industry. The chair was named for three OMCA founding members in recognition of their service to the industry: Peter L. Martini of North York, Tiberio Mascarin of Toronto and Eugene George of Kitchener.

The Association, established in 1971, represents contractors who specialize in installing masonry as well as manufacturers, suppliers and dealers who are involved with masonry materials, equipment and accessories.

The Martini, Mascarin and George Chair in Masonry Design will help ensure that current and future undergraduate and graduate engineering students are taught cutting-edge masonry design.

It will also enable researchers to build on the current body of knowledge for building codes and standards.

"Masonry design has been under-represented at universities around the world," said McMaster civil engineering professor Robert Drysdale, who has been named to the chair for a five-year term. "This funding will enable us to investigate, assess and build upon current practices within the industry and, ultimately, help to make the buildings that we live and work in better and safer. Our work will also lead to greater efficiencies in building construction and design."

"We are proud of the leadership our employers are exhibiting in the establishment of this chair. Industry, consumers and future generations of masons and engineers will benefit greatly from this initiative," said OMCA associate executive director John Blair.

Ontario's brick, concrete block and cement-manufacturing companies will also benefit.

"This partnership with the Ontario Masonry Contractors' Association is a vote of confidence in McMaster's Faculty of Engineering, which is known worldwide for its innovation in research and education. Engineers at McMaster and at universities around the world will benefit from the advances this funding will provide," said Mamdouh Shoukri, Vice President, Research. "Industry will also benefit from a pool of highly qualified and talented graduates who will have a better understanding of masonry design."

(Reprinted from The MacEngineer with permission)

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Phone:   905-525-9140 ext. 24917 
Fax:       905-529-9688
Location : JHE 301 

Centre for Effective Design of Structures 
Department of Civil Engineering
McMaster University
1280 Main St. West, JHE - 301
Hamilton, ON   L8S 4L7