VIDEO: Jonathan Brickman: Masters Candidate in Civil Engineering

Posted on April 07, 2017

The latest in our series on Queen's engineering graduate students. Jonathan Brickman is pursuing his MEng degree. Perhaps his story will help you to navigate your own decisions about graduate school? For more information on graduate studies at Queen's visit the School of Graduate Studies and the Department of Civil Engineering at Queen's University.

  • Video transcript:

    Hi, I'm Jonathan Brickman. I'm currently completing the Master of Engineering Program at Queen's University and I'm being supervised by Dr Ryan Mulligan.

    Right around Grade 11 or 12, I knew that I was going to pursue engineering. I was heavily involved with FIRSTRobotics in high school, so I knew that was kind of the path I wanted to take.

    When I got to first year, though, I had a bit of trouble choosing the right discipline for me, so I ended up initially choosing mechanical engineering, then had a change-of-heart and switched into electrical engineering and finally, on a whim, between first and second year, I switched into civil engineering which, to me, is one of the best decisions that I ever made. But it really wasn't until the end of third year, heading into my fourth year that I started to really enjoy particular aspects of civil engineering and, to be honest, by the time go to the end of fourth year, I really didn't feel like I was finished. I felt like there was more for me to gain from this department and the faculty we have here.

    So, when I heard about the Master of Engineering Program, which was recommended to me by Dr Mulligan, it seemed like the next natural progression for someone who really got a lot out of the undergraduate side of civil engineering but wanted to just push it a little bit further without having top narrow myself down to one specific topic. I could kind of keep my options open.

    The Master of Engineering is generally geared more toward career advancement and professional development. The class sizes are so much smaller, that halfway through a semester, you don't feel like you can hide and you don't feel like your professor doesn't know who you are. I haven't taken a single class, a single graduate class, with civil engineering that's been more than six people. And in every single one of those courses, I've been able to get to know my professors, and the other students in my class very, very well. One of the things I found really, really great is that graduate degrees in general account for up to 12 months of the 48 required months to become a PEng in Ontario.

    So, because I'm completing my MEng in eight months, those eight months will qualify towards my 48, so including my summer work experience, by the time I graduate and start working, I'll already have 16 months towards my 48 months, which I've also heard from a lot of employers who have interviewed me that it's a highly desirable trait because they don't have to start from the ground up and you can become a PEng sooner.

    What I decided to do for the MEng was pursue a whole bunch of different areas that I can get a little bit more specific in as it relates to a career that I hope to begin immediately after graduating from this program. The focus that I've had through my courses has been in coastal engineering, like water waves tsunami prevention, and breakwater design. Then environmental engineering, which is mostly hydrogeology, contaminated site remediation, and ground water flow mechanics. The third kind of pillar is advanced hydrotechnical engineering: so, the advanced fluid mechanics, and water network design and analysis. In addition to this course work, I've also undertaken a research project which only lasted a term, with Dr Ryan Mulligan. So, while it's not thesis-based, I ended up writing about a 25-page report that we're hoping to present at a conference in May.

    And so that project involved picking up some of the past research that's been done on our landslide flume at West Campus and I've been adapting a numerical computer model to simulate those landslides which create tsunamis in that flume that we have set up.