Cichocki wins Queen's Engineering 125th Anniversary photo prize

Posted on April 16, 2019

Robert Cichocki, a PhD candidate in Professor Ian Moore’s research group in the Department of Civil Engineering, is the winner of the Queen’s Engineering 125 Anniversary Prize in this year’s Art of Research Photo Contest.

The $500 prize was awarded to the submission that best demonstrates how engineering-specific research pursuits are likely to affect positive change in all our daily lives. Civil engineering professor Kevin Mumford and mining engineering professor Julián Ortiz selected the winning image. Cichocki’s winning photograph, A New Light, shows a UV light train ready for application on a section of corrugated steel pipe at the GeoEngineering Lab on West Campus.

“I’m working on a testing series for cured, in-place pipe liners for my project,” says Cichocki. “We’re trying to come up with different design methodologies for using these liner systems.”

There are, for example, likely hundreds of thousands of culverts in the Province of Ontario alone. These are mostly sections of corrugated steel pipe buried under roadways that allow water to pass beneath. Most of these were installed more than 40 years ago and are beginning to need replacement. If a culvert collapses, it can pull the roadway it supports down with it, creating a deep, watery trench across the road and a dangerous hazard for drivers.

The traditional approach to repairing a weakened culvert is to close the road, dig up the old section of pipe and replace it with a new one. On a major 400-series highway that can be hugely expensive and disruptive for motorists. Several companies and researchers over the past few years have developed systems to repair and reinforce culverts in place without having to close the roadway over-head. Cichocki is working among Professor Moore’s group to test the efficacy of these systems.

It’s work that can keep roadways open, save hundreds of millions of dollars for taxpayers, and help add decades to the service life of existing infrastructure.

“They blow up a big sock filled with thermo-setting liquid resin inside the pipe,” says Cichocki. “Then they pass an ultra-violet light train through the pipe to cure the resin. With UV exposure, the hardened resin becomes a stiff liner inside the pipe, reinforcing its strength. It’s the train with all its UV lights you see in the picture. It’s outside the pipe while researchers were testing it to make sure it is operating effectively.”

Cichocki says he’s planning to put the prize money toward the cost of a new camera.

“Every day here is pretty different and it’s really hard to explain what we do sometimes,” he says. “It’s better to take photos and videos of what you’re doing because it helps to explain what all these words mean, so people can understand.”

See all the winning of this year’s Art of Research Photo Contest.


TESTING NEW METHODS: “The Art of Research contest is a great opportunity,” says PhD candidate Robert Cichocki. “I didn’t have anything to enter last year but when I saw the competition open this year, I knew I had to submit something.”


PRIZE PICTURE: Robert Cichocki’s winning Queen’s Engineering 125th Anniversary Prize entry shows a light train arrayed with ultra violet lights for hardening liquid-resin liners inside corrugated steel pipes.

FULL TEST: A time lapse video shows the a full round of testing of the liquid-resin liner system on a pipe section. (Robert Cichocki video)