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Jonathan Andal

"I get to set my own timetable. I set my own schedule and time at the lab for testing."


Name: Jonathan Andal

Age: 24

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Program: Master of Applied Science, Civil Engineering

Undergraduate degree: Civil Engineering, Ryerson University


Why did you choose Ryerson for your Master's education?

I chose it for my supervisor. I work with one of Ryerson’s civil engineering professors, Dr. Medhat Shehata. My initial plan wasn’t to do a master’s. I had seen Dr. Shehata at a conference and he approached me and asked me if I wanted to do my master’s. I thought it was a good opportunity.

What is the focus of your current research?

It’s on recycled concrete aggregate (RCA). It’s the concrete that’s been sent back to the plant. Workers typically wash out the truck, dump out all the excess concrete, and once it hardens they crush it back and then reuse it. But my topic is a different form of RCA, because it’s higher quality. Typically the concrete that’s returned is washed out with a lot of water to make it easier to dump. With my research, there is a limited amount of water used to help control the quality of the concrete.

Why does this research appeal to you?

It’s an innovative thing that’s happening in the industry, being able to control the quality of concrete.

Can you give an example of a memorable research experience?

In September or October, I went to a field trial. It wasn’t my own field trial but it was another one of Dr. Shehata’s master’s students.  The student took the research and testing that she did in the lab, and recreated it in an outside scenario. They planned ahead for it, but, because it’s done in the field, some things go wrong. I just like the way they try to figure out how to proceed and how they adjust for different scenarios.  The research was in the same area as mine – RCA – but it’s lower quality, and she was using it as a backfill. So they dug a huge trench and filled it with concrete made from RCA and they waited for it to harden. They wanted to be able to stand on it after it hardened.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully I’ll be working as a materials engineer. My plan is not to be in school after five years, so a PhD’s not really in my future. But,  you never know.

What’s the most rewarding thing about being a graduate student at Ryerson?

Working on an innovative topic, and also being a teaching assistant. I was a teaching assistant for a third-year course, and that was pretty fun. I like talking to the students about concrete, but also about stuff like going into fourth year, doing your master’s and finding a career.

What do you think of Ryerson’s graduate student life?

Being a master’s student, there’s more freedom, but it’s still a lot of work. I get to set my own timetable, and I discuss with my professor about goals and achievements, but I set my own work schedule and time at the lab for testing.

If you could describe your experience so far as a Ryerson graduate student in one word, what would it be?

Incomplete. I still have a lot more research to do. I just finished my first year of the master’s program and I took four classes out of the required five. So, I still have a lot of research and testing to do.

Why should students come to Ryerson?

Our master’s program is really good, and all of the professors are great.

Compiled by Yasmin Jaswal.