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Alana Vandersluis, BEng Scty '16

Civil Engineering & Society | Managing the Storm

In a world where pavement prevails and once-in-a-century storms have become once-in-a-decade storms, managing the flooding, erosion, and pollution runoff from stormwater is an increasingly crucial task.

As a stormwater management assistant with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA), Alana Vandersluis is working on the leading edge of that world.

In cooperation with several other Ontario Conservation Authorities, her agency has developed a software tool to help developers, consultants, municipalities, and landowners better understand and manage stormwater impacts. Known as the Low Impact Development Treatment Train Tool (LID TTT), the software analyzes the impact of annual and event-based water runoff volumes and pollutant load removal for pre-and-post-development scenarios.

The tool encourages the implementation of green infrastructure in the development and retrofitting of building sites, to manage runoff and mitigate the impacts of stormwater.

 A 2016 graduate of the Civil Engineering & Society program who minored in Environmental Science, Vandersluis has been involved in developing, testing, and training related to the software, as well as working on other stormwater management and sustainable technology initiatives.

During her university years, she worked in summer co-op positions at several Ontario conservation authorities and says the experience helped drive her interest in stormwater management work and opened the door to her current job. 

Following her graduation from McMaster, she completed a graduate certificate program in Ecosystem Restoration at Niagara College.

“I chose engineering because I like solving real-world problems,” she says. “Some of the tools that I get to work on are currently being used by many stakeholders in Ontario, and even around the world, which is pretty exciting.”

 She encourages students to expand on their university experience with extracurricular activities.

“Of course, make sure you pass all your classes and learn what you need to know – you're going to need it in the real world – but join a club or team or activity that interests you because the friends and connections you make there will last after your university career.”