Chris Gräpel appointed as Adjunct Professor at the University of Alberta

November 17, 2022

Chris is Senior Civil/Geotechnical Engineer and Associate with KCB, based in our Edmonton office. He has 29 years of experience working in western and northern Canada on a broad variety of projects, with a focus on dams and highway geohazards. Chris leads KCB’s work on a joint research project in highway geohazards between KCB, Alberta Transportation (AT), and the University of Alberta (UofA). He was recently appointed as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Alberta.

We sat down with Chris to learn more about his work with the University of Alberta and his new role as an Adjunct Professor.

Tell us more about the KCB-AT-UofA highway geohazards research project.

KCB, UofA, and AT identified an opportunity to promote the implementation of innovative and practical tools and approaches for geohazard monitoring with a multi-year research project, the Geohazard Risk Management Program (GRMP). The technology would be applied to the management of geohazards along Alberta highways at other sites. KCB has worked on the GRMP in the Southern, Central, and Grande Prairie South regions of Alberta since 2000.

This initiative accesses the practicality of the best-available technology to assist AT with more efficiently managing geohazard risks to the public highway system. Another goal of the research project is to transfer technology and knowledge to peers and consultants in the highway-geohazard engineering industry, and mentor and train graduate students, and other highly qualified personnel (HQP) specializing in geohazard engineering and monitoring, who will be available to KCB and AT now and into the future.

How long have you been working on the KCB-AT-UofA highway geohazards research project?

I have been working on AT highway geohazards projects since 1998, and previously managed the North Central-Stony Plan GRMP region before joining KCB. I have worked on highway construction and geohazard projects in all regions of Alberta. The geohazards research project was developed through Dr. Renato Macciotta (a former KCB staff member) after we spoke about research opportunities in highway geohazards in 2016. I am KCB’s lead for the research, and I work with UofA and AT on identifying sites that would be suitable for the project. I work closely with UofA and have direct input into the direction of student research on geohazards, as well as reviewing the results of their research and technical papers for conferences and peer-reviewed journals.

How long have you been volunteering with U of A?

I have been volunteering at UofA since about 2006 when I started giving presentations on behalf of the Civil Engineering department on the work of Civil-Geotechnical Engineers. Other ways I volunteer for UofA include making presentations at student-industry networking events, adjudicating senior-year Civil Engineering project presentations as part of a panel of senior engineers, and participating in a committee focussed on the latest review of Civil Engineering curriculum at UofA. Two projects that I have worked on (Hwy 43 crossing of the Iosegun River and the 2016 Reconstruction of the Mayerthorpe Railway bridge) are projects that senior-year Civil Engineering students can work on. I have been volunteering for universities since 2004 when I started doing annual presentations to civil engineering students at Dalhousie University.

I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil engineering (with Distinction) in 1993 from the Technical University of Nova Scotia (now Dalhousie). Recently, I have been participating in senior projects involving agricultural dike projects around the Bay of Fundy in partnership with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Dalhousie University.

What inspired you to work with U of A over the years and how do you hope to continue your work with U of A as an adjunct professor?

Doing my Master of Engineering degree in Civil Engineering (Geotechnical) at the University of Alberta in 1994 was an excellent experience. After graduating, I wanted to “give back” to UofA through my time and experience to the university. I also enjoy working on AT geohazard projects, seeking innovative solutions and methods for the investigation, monitoring, and repair of geohazards to help AT, and of course, working with young engineers. The KCB-AT-UofA research project helps me do all that. The Adjunct Professor position further supports my volunteering efforts and will allow me to participate in thesis defense presentations for the students engaged within the KCB-AT-UofA research project.