Sustainable Engineering in Remote Areas

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Program Overview


Providing engineering services in northern and remote areas poses significant challenges and opportunities for Canada’s future. As a result, engineers with an understanding of the issues related to working with Indigenous communities and in remote areas are in high demand.  The NSERC CREATE Program in Sustainable Engineering in Remote Areas (SERA) provides training in sustainable building, energy projects, advanced sensing, cultural sensitivity, law, ethics and business skills through a unique combination of academic training, industry internships, seminars, workshops, and cutting-edge research.  Specifically, the program will focus on the following key initiatives:

  • TRAINING: program participants will take a series of seminars and short courses from leading experts in three core areas, namely A) Indigenous cultural, legal and policy issues, B) business skills, and C) social issues and sustainability standards.
  • INTERNSHIPS: trainees will spend 20% of their time (approximately four months for a two year Master’s student) working with an industry partner through paid internships, gaining practical, real-world experience.
  • RESEARCH: students will work together with faculty supervisors on innovative research projects in two main streams:
    • Renewable energy systems, including advanced monitoring techniques and sustainable technologies such as solar, wind, hydro and biomass.
    • Sustainable and energy efficient buildings, including non-conventional locally available construction materials (e.g. straw bale construction, switchgrass), lightweight building systems and structural health monitoring systems for northern and remote areas.


The NSERC CREATE: SERA Training Program is targeted at engineering graduate students and undergraduate Aboriginal students at any of the four participating institutions (Queen’s University, University of Manitoba, University of Ottawa and the Royal Military College of Canada) with an interest in renewable energy or sustainable building technologies. Students who wish to apply must first be accepted at one of the four institutions. Graduates of the NSERC CREATE: SERA program will be well-equipped to become leaders in their fields as a result of the one-of-a-kind training they will receive through seminars and workshops, advanced technical expertise obtained through high-level research projects, valuable practical experience gained through industry internships, and new perspectives resulting from first hand visits to remote Indigenous communities.