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Matthew Piersanti

"[My supervisor] finds a way to get the best out of everyone."


Name: Matthew Piersanti

Age: 21

Hometown: Maple, Ontario

Program: MASc, Civil Engineering

Undergraduate degree: Civil Engineering, Ryerson University

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

I enjoyed my first four years at Ryerson, and I’m already used to it. I was given the opportunity to work with Dr. Medhat Shehata, and that’s who I was most interested in working with, so I stayed here.

What is the focus of your current research?

I’m looking into concrete that’s been affected by alkali-silica reaction, which is a reaction that happens in concrete and causes expansion within the concrete, leading to deterioration. I’m working on limiting the reaction, as well as trying to reuse the concrete that’s been affected by the reaction for future projects.

Why does this research appeal to you?

After taking Dr. Shehata’s class in third-year, I became interested in materials and in concrete. When I found out I had the opportunity to work with him on my master’s, I knew I would enjoy it because he finds a way to get the best out of everyone and he really stimulated my interest in concrete. Finding ways to make construction more sustainable also interests me, and that’s what this research is trying to do.

Can you give an example of a memorable Ryerson experience?

We got to go to Vancouver to participate in the Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race last year, which consists of student teams from universities from all over Canada racing toboggans down a ski hill with running surfaces made of concrete.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully working as an engineer, either at an engineering firm or with the government.

How do you think grad student life will compare to undergrad student life?

In undergrad, there’s a lot of stress because of the heavy course load, whereas in graduate studies I do a lot of research and time is more flexible. It’s a different atmosphere.

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

Interesting. Going from high school to undergraduate was a lot bigger of a change than I thought it would be; I have really enjoyed my time here.

Compiled by Yasmin Jaswal.