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Off-site Construction Research Centre


Meet the team

OSCO Research Chair in Off-site Construction and OCRC Scientific Director

Zhen Lei is an assistant professor in the department of civil engineering, the OSCO Research Chair in Off-site Construction and scientific director of the Off-site Construction Research Centre (OCRC) at the University of New Brunswick.

He received an M.Sc. and PhD in Construction Engineering and Management from the University of Alberta and then worked at PCL Industrial Management Inc. prior to joining the OCRC team at UNB.

Dr. Lei’s main research areas includes:

  • construction process simulation and optimization
  • Building Information Modeling (BIM) and emerging digital technologies
  • work process improvement in off-site construction

Email | LinkedIn | Publications

Innovation Director

Brandon Searle is the innovation director for the Off-site Construction Research Centre (OCRC) at the University of New Brunswick. Born in Moncton, N.B., he completed a BScE in civil engineering and a diploma in Technology Management and Entrepreneurship at the University of New Brunswick

Before joining UNB in his current role, Brandon worked on capital projects from both the owner and contractor side followed by a four-year position with WSP where he was an asset management consultant. While with WSP, he worked toward an M.Eng. focusing on level of service in infrastructure management and completed a broad collection of courses in economics, project management, business, finance and engineering.

Brandon serves as the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE)Western NB Section Past-Chair, CSCE Atlantic Region Treasurer and sits on the Canadian Network of Asset Managers (CNAM) Board of Directors.

He is also involved in philanthropy work with a variety of organizations. Brandon is keen to collaborate and work with industry partners to grow the Off-site Construction Research Centre and to create innovative ideas that will transform the construction industry.

Email | LinkedIn

Research Associate (RA) and Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF)

Dr. Ala Suliman, Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF)

Dr. Ala Suliman has a strong engineering background with B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Civil Engineering with a focus on Construction Surveying & Photogrammetry. In 2017, he completed a Ph.D. degree in Geospatial Data Processing from the Department of Geodesy & Geomatics Engineering at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). In 2019, he earned another M.Sc.E. degree in Construction Management from the Department of Civil Engineering at UNB.

Ala’s professional experience is a combination of academia and consulting: in the academic environment, he has a demonstrated record of teaching and research experiences at different universities. In teaching, Ala lectured a diverse set of (under)graduate Civil, Surveying, and Geomatics engineering courses/labs as a teaching assistant, stipend instructor, and a university lecturer. Research is a big part of his experience. Ala has authored and co-authored 18+ journal articles, conference papers, and a book chapter about the subject of urban geospatial data processing (Urban Remote Sensing). He has also delivered many technical presentations at international symposiums. In the consultancy profession, Ala delivered numerous surveying training programs to many local consultancy firms in Libya. He also cooperated, for 3+ years, with several construction companies as a surveying specialist for housing construction projects in Libya.

Ala is currently a Research Associate in the University of New Brunswick department of civil engineering and postdoctoral fellow at the OCRC. His research interests include the innovative applications of geospatial and digital technologies in construction engineering & management.

Email | LinkedIn | Publications

Structural Research Engineer

Samira Rizaee

Dr. Samira Rizaee is a structural research engineer at the Off-site Construction Research Centre (OCRC) at the University of New Brunswick.

She received her PhD from the University of Calgary in 2021, where she studied the bond strength of adhered thin masonry veneers when subjected to extreme weather conditions. Dr. Rizaee completed her MSc at the University of Calgary in 2015, where she had studied the behavior of reinforced concrete masonry shear walls. Prior to joining the OCRC team, Dr. Rizaee worked on solving structural engineering, masonry and building envelope problems with Alberta Masonry Council for over five years and Stantec Consulting Ltd. for two years.

Dr. Rizaee has been also involved with the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering-Calgary chapter since 2013 and served in different roles such as vice president of memberships, vice president of events and recently as the vice president of sponsorship.

Email | LinkedIn | Publications

Lab Technician

Tony Guimond is a Red Seal Machinist, born in Chatham, N.B., currently working as the Technical Operations Officer for the Department of Civil Engineering and Lab Technician for the Off-site Construction Research Centre.

Prior to joining the OCRC, Tony spent 11 years working as a Technician for the Ballistics and Mechanical (BAM) Test Lab at UNB. While working at the BAM Test Lab, Tony conducted tests for the aerospace industry. These include bird strike testing for aircrafts, high speed impact testing on satellites (velocities up to 8 km per second) and many others.

With the OCRC, Tony is focused on building the research testing capacity of the structural, impact and building envelope testing program.

Participating faculty members

Participating faculty member

Dr. Jeff Rankin

Dr. Rankin is a professor and holds the M. Patrick Gillin Chair in Construction Engineering and Management in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of New Brunswick. Prior to joining UNB, Dr. Rankin was the Executive Director of the Construction Technology Centre Atlantic, an innovation broker for the region’s construction industry.

Dr. Rankin’s construction experience has included various project and construction management roles in many types of construction projects including high-rise buildings and larger infrastructure projects such as the Confederation Bridge. He received his PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of British Columbia. Dr. Rankin’s current research focuses on improving the performance of the construction industry through innovation: the appropriate adoption and implementation of advanced technologies and sustainable practices for the delivery of public infrastructure. | LinkedIn

Participating faculty member

Dr. Alan Lloyd

Dr. Alan Lloyd is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and a co-director of the University of New Brunswick Ballistics and Mechanics Testing lab. He has been working with the university in a variety of roles for over 5 years.

Dr. Lloyd received an MA. Sc. and PhD in structural engineering from the University of Ottawa, where his research focused on blast resistant structures. His research interests include ballistic and impact response of structures and materials, reinforced concrete structures, precast concrete structures, and fibre reinforced polymers (FRP) for retrofit of structures. 

Participating faculty member

Dr. Lloyd McCara Waugh

Dr. Lloyd McCara Waugh is a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). He began teaching at UNB in 1984 and was the civil engineering department chair from 1998-2003. Dr. Waugh received a B.Sc. Civil Engineering from UNB, and a M.Sc. and PhD in Construction Engineering and Management from Stanford University.

Dr. Waugh’s career in construction started in the late 1970’s as a laborer, then progressed as he became a job foreman, project manager and construction manager with a general contractor. Since then, he has been President of Swift Mechanical Contractors Ltd, President of AEC Innovations/FocalTrack Inc., and President of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering, as well as an executive director and board member of the Construction Technology Centre Atlantic and board member of the New Brunswick Chapter of the Canadian Construction Research Board. He is currently a research and development advisor for Bradley Engineering. In addition to his construction industry and civil engineering experience, he has been a president and chief negotiator for the Association of University of New Brunswick Teachers.

Historically, Dr. Waugh’s research interest has been innovation in the architecture-engineering-construction industry; more recently, it has been high visual and spatial resolution virtual reality in the AEC industry. | LinkedIn

Participating faculty member

Dr. Trevor Hanson

Dr. Trevor Hanson is an associate professor at the University of New Brunswick in the department of civil engineering, with a specialization in transportation. Dr. Hanson obtained his BScE, MScE and PhD from UNB.

His primary research focuses on planning and forecasting tools for age-friendly rural transportation planning, with an initial focus on volunteer transportation. Dr. Hanson’s research was inspired by the transportation challenges he observed while growing up in rural New Brunswick and his volunteer work within a community development group.

With the OCRC, Trevor Hanson is managing a research project that involves smart building sensors as part of a project originated on behalf of UNB by the Smart Campus Integration and Testing Lab at Ryerson University. Dr. Hanson is collaborating with OCRC researchers to help develop the use cases for UNB's data contribution to this project. This project was initiated by Dr. Monica Wachowicz, who continues to work with Dr. Hanson on the project. | LinkedIn


Student Researcher | PhD Civil Engineering

Sergiy Polyachenko

Sergiy is currently working on his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at the University of New Brunswick under the supervision of an interdisciplinary advisory team of Dr. Jeff Rankin, Dr. Dhirendra Shukla, and Dr. Yuri Yevdokimov. In his research, Sergiy is focusing on the competition and innovation capabilities of the construction companies of the Atlantic Canada.

Before joining UNB, Sergiy studied Economics at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and acquired his M.Sc. in Economics in 2011. After that, Sergiy worked as a junior research fellow at Higher School of Economics in Moscow focusing on problems of human capital accumulation, regional economics, and rural infrastructure.

Sergiy’s area of expertise includes quantitative research, data analytics, construction markets, and public procurement. | LinkedIn

Student Researcher | PhD Civil Engineering

Shahrzad Mansouri

Shahrzad holds a bachelor’s degree in Architectural Engineering and a master’s degree in Construction Management from California State University. Before joining the UNB, she was the Director of Operations for a Construction Management firm in San Francisco Bay Area. She was also an Adjunct Professor at the California State University.

Shahrzad is a certified LEED Green Associate and has an Occupational Safety and Health Administration certificate in construction safety and health. She is also an associate member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and has certifications in business applications and data analysis. | LinkedIn

Student Researcher | PhD Civil Engineering

Aryo Faghih

Aryo has graduated with a master’s degree in Construction Management from California State University. He has over 10 years of experience in construction industry and has been managing construction related projects such as LEED, IT, remodeling, ADA, EV charger stations and labs in Silicon Valley, California for the last four years.

He is a LEED Green Associate, OSHA trained, and a member of American Society of Civil Engineers. | LinkedIn

Student Researcher | PhD Civil Engineering

Kamyab Aghajamali

Kamyab is a PhD student in construction engineering and management at the University of New Brunswick. He received his bachelor of science at Amirkabir University of Technology and his master of science at the University of Tehran.

Through his graduate studies, Kamyab worked in TECNOSA R&D Center in Tehran as a programming engineer. In September 2021, he joined the OCRC team as a student researcher.

Kamyab’s research interests include automation, simulation and optimization in construction, and the applications of Artificial Intelligence in construction. | LinkedIn

Student Researcher | MScE Construction Engineering and Management

Shahrnaz Ardalani

Shahrnaz is currently pursuing a masters in Construction Engineering and Management. Her research revolves around building information modelling and the application of digital technologies including construction digital twin and augmented reality in the construction industry. Prior to joining UNB, she worked at Jayne Construction Company, a general contractor company in Iran for more than three years, where she served as a manager of the tender department and technical expert of wastewater treatment plant projects.

She completed her Master of Science in structural engineering at the Iran University of Science and Technology in 2015. In her thesis, she focused on the optimal design of reinforced concrete structures to minimize the cost and carbon dioxide emissions through different phases of a building life cycle using metaheuristic algorithms.

Shahrnaz’s research interests lie in the area of optimization to achieve a more economic and environmentally friendly way of construction. In her spare time, she enjoys cycling, traveling, pencil drawing, and reading books. | LinkedIn

Student Researcher | MScE Civil Engineering

Lucas Marshall

Lucas is currently pursuing a master of science in civil engineering at the University of New Brunswick under the supervision of Dr. Alan Lloyd and Dr. Zhen Lei. His research is being completed in partnership with Strescon Ltd., focusing on the bearing capacity of their precast hollow core slabs, as well as the production process.

Lucas is from Quispamsis, New Brunswick, and had moved to Fredericton in 2017 to pursue his B.Sc.E in Civil Engineering at UNB. Throughout his bachelor’s degree Lucas worked as a student in several summer internships. These included time with Dillon Consulting in Saint John, NB, a term with the Bell Mobility Structural and Maintenance team in Dorval, QC, and an eight-month term with the Off-site Construction Research Centre as an undergraduate research student in partnership with Ocean Steel.

In his free time, Lucas enjoys playing hockey, skiing, golfing, and mountain biking, as well as spending time working with the UNB Canadian Society for Civil Engineering student chapter. | LinkedIn

Student Researcher | MScE Civil Engineering

Nicole is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Civil Engineering at the University of New Brunswick. Originally from Fredericton, NB, she completed her B.Sc.E in Civil Engineering at UNB, and graduated in 2017.

After completing her bachelor’s degree, Nicole worked for J.D. Irving for 3 years in a variety of roles. She began her career with the Process Improvement team within the Woodlands division where she earned her Lean Six Sigma Green Belt qualification and completed a variety of business development and improvement projects. She later transitioned to a company within the Construction & Equipment division, Gulf Operators Ltd., where she gained experience as Quality Manager for the Safe Clean Drinking Water Project, and later as a Junior Project Manager for civil construction projects.

Nicole hopes to continue to develop her technical knowledge throughout the duration of her graduate studies, and aims to leverage past industry experience in her research efforts in the area of off-site construction. Nicole’s interests lie in the areas of project management, process efficiency and improvement efforts to streamline construction engineering and management practices.

In her spare time, Nicole enjoys highland dancing, yoga, reading and travelling. She is an active volunteer within the highland community as current President of ScotDance New Brunswick and chair of the ScotDance Canada Young Professionals Development committee. | Linkedin

Student Researcher | MScE Civil Engineering

Alyssa van de Riet

Alyssa recently graduated with a B.Sc. Civil Engineering student and is now pursuing an accelerated master’s in civil engineering. Alyssa comes from rural Nova Scotia and has developed an interest in off-site construction after working at Shaw Precast Solutions in Lantz, NS.

Alyssa’s first project with the OCRC was partnered with Alantra Leasing. This project focused on improving the productivity of their off-site operations. This project has inspired various projects since this time, including her undergraduate research thesis and her current master’s project. | LinkedIn

Student Researcher | MScE in construction engineering and management

Mahsa Rezvani

Mahsa is currently enrolled in the master of construction engineering and management degree program at the University of New Brunswick. She completed a bachelor of science in civil engineering at the University of Mazandaran followed by a master of science in water resources planning and management at the University of Isfahan.

In 2015, Mahsa started her first work experience as an assistant site supervisor in a 9-story concrete-frame construction with ICF walls system located in Babolsar, Iran. This work experience sparked her curiosity for finding ways to solve existing construction issues and finding ways to leverage technology for more productive construction practices. She started her master studies in May 2021 at UNB off-site Construction Research Center. Under the supervision of Dr. Zhen Lei and Dr. Lloyd Waugh, she is focusing on exploring the technology potentials and applications of digital technologies including augmented and mixed reality in precast concrete production.

In her spare time, Mahsa enjoys running, listening to music and oil painting. She always looks forward to opportunities to join and get involved in voluntary activities and event organizations in the university community and the Graduate Student Association, as she was a member of the Civil Engineering Students Association in her third and fourth years of bachelor's studies. | LinkedIn

Student Researcher | MSce Civil Engineering

Yuxi Wei

Yuxi recently graduated with a master of architecture degree from the University of California and is now pursuing master of science in civil engineering at the University of New Brunswick.

She developed her interest in off-site construction while taking a construction course, which included a semester-long site visit to a modular construction site in Oakland, California. Her current research work with the OCRC focuses on architectural design opportunities in an off-site construction environment. | LinkedIn

Research Assistant

Brandon Beasley

Brandon Beasley is a computer science graduate with a specialization degree in cybersecurity, and he is currently a research assistant with the OCRC. Prior to joining the OCRC, he worked as a full-stack developer for mechThat LLC; he was tasked with developing a secure web application designed to help law firms with case management. Brandon always likes to give a helping hand; with his free time, he has worked as a volunteer for several projects; one of those projects, he was the technical consultant for the 1000 donors Edmonton campaign, tasked with the development of the 1000 donor’s website and API used to track the current blood donation statistics. In his spare time, he enjoys road trips to explore Canada while sampling various cuisine.

His current research is focused on leading the designing and development of a secure application to automize data retrieval of projects. Brandon is also working on a second research project, where he is tasked to lead the design/building and prototyping of a secure application used to automize workflow. | LinkedIn

Research Assistant | B.Sc. Computer Science

Jialiang (Rafael) Hua

Jialiang Hua is originally from Shanghai, China. In 2020, he completed his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at the University of New Brunswick.

Since last summer, Jialiang has been working with Dr. Zhen Lei to develop a System UI/UX workflow and design for Hinton Scaffolding. Jialiang helped to design and develop business intelligence dashboards, a mobile app prototype and data visualizations using Microsoft Power App and Azure SQL server.

Jialiang is always drawn to learning new technology and cool gadgets. His curiosity towards latest innovative technologies made him knowledgeable in the rapid evolutionary tech world we live in. Of course, he also has to get his hands on the latest gadgets! Apart from coding and problem-solving with technology, he enjoys playing basketball and travelling with his friends. | LinkedIn

Research Assistant

Zhuo Cheng

Zhuo Cheng completed her bachelor of science in timber structural engineering at the Nanjing Forestry University (NFU) and her master's degree in forestry engineering at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). During her bacherlor’s degree, Zhuo was the vice president in Student Union of Material Science and Engineering College, NFU. Her responsibilities were focused on marketing and publications including designing posters, managing, and running social media and organizing or participating in student events.

While completing her education, she became fond of BIM, construction management and digital engineering in the early stage of the building lifecycle. As a research assistant with the OCRC, Zhuo is focused on visualization design using 3D BIM, modelling software for architectural drawings and animation software (4D BIM). Zhuo’s projects to date have focused on creating architectural and project simulation drawings for a simulation where housing is manufactured in southern Canada and transported to northern Canada for assembly, erection, and installation. In addition to her research projects, Zhuo is conducting research on the potential of implementing game engine software in the construction field.

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Jenna Eveleigh is an undergraduate research assistant with the OCRC. She is currently in her third year of civil engineering in pursuit of her bachelor’s degree at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). Her summer experience includes conducting quality assurance and control in a processing plant in the agriculture industry and working as a Capital Works Inspector for the City of Moncton (City) for a 4-month co-op term in summer 2021. While with City, Jenna acted as the project coordinator, inspector and liaison between the project engineer and contractors on site.

With the OCRC, Jenna will be focused on Lean construction and value stream mapping (VSM) of a steel fabrication plant. Her role will include statistical analysis, data collections and time studies, process mapping, and exploring the use of augmented reality (AR) in a fabrication environment.

Originally from Newfoundland, she enjoys skiing, soccer, volleyball, and playing the piano.

OCRC alumni

Student Researcher | M.Eng. (part-time)

Nic Thompson, Master of Engineering (part-time) (MEng)

Nic Thompson is currently completing his Master of Engineering at the University of New Brunswick while working fulltime with FCC Construction, a general contracting company, part of OSCO Construction Group, based in Saint John, NB. Nic is completing his masters under the supervision of Dr. Zhen Lei with a focus on the implementation of a case study within FCC to assess the practical advantages of building information modeling. Before beginning his masters, he completed a Bachelor of Science in Engineering at UNB, graduating in May of 2019.

While completing his bachelor’s degree, Nic returned to his home town of Saint John, in the summers to work with the City of Saint John. With the city, he was responsible for collecting data to aid in the development of a 3D flow model of the city’s underground infrastructure. 

Before graduating, he also completed an eight-month co-op term with FCC Construction where he played a key role in the development and submittal of turnover documentation for a 220-million-dollar water treatment facility. In his free time, he enjoys playing and coaching lacrosse, and spending time with friends and family. | LinkedIn

Student Researcher | MScE Construction Engineering and Management

José Daniel is a Colombian engineer with a petroleum and business background. He is currently a Master of Science student in Construction Engineering and Management under the supervision of Dr. Zhen Lei and he is part of the Offsite Construction Research Centre. He completed a Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering at Universidad Industrial de Santander (UIS) in 2014, followed by a degree in Business Management at Universidad de La Sabana in 2017. His research focus involves Data Analytics and Construction Project Optimization and Automation to increase economic and environmental sustainability in the Offsite Construction Industry. His professional experience includes working in the field, managing projects for companies in various industries and developing entrepreneurial projects.

José Daniel is particularly passionate about the application of Data Sciences and AI to enhance productivity in multiple fields. He loves to play and watch sports, most notably soccer, tennis and biking, and he also enjoys cooking, reading, movies and nature. Family and education are the strongest influence and inspiration for his life and career. | LinkedIn

Student Researcher | MScE

Ramtin Azami

Ramtin started his master’s degree at UNB in May 2020, working with the Off-site Construction Research Centre. He has a background in civil engineering specializing in geotechnical engineering. After graduating with a degree in geotechnical engineering in 2017, he started working as a site engineer to expand his knowledge, skills and experience, which triggered his interest in construction management. Following this, he elected to pursue a degree in construction management under Dr. Lei’s supervision. Ramtin is now part of Off-site Construction Research Centre and is working on his thesis focused on optimizing the use of robots in the construction industry.

His skills include soil mechanics testing such as direct shear, triaxial, and cyclic triaxial test; analyzing geotechnical structures using GeoStudio (geo-slope), PLAXIS, and Abaqus; structural design of different buildings using both ETABS and SAP2000 software; and coding in Python.

Ramtin enjoys meeting new people and hearing or learning new perspectives. Please reach out if you are interested in talking about robotics in the construction industry, managing projects, geotechnical engineering or movies. | LinkedIn

Research Assistant

Aziz Alattas

Aziz is a recent graduate from UNB’s bachelor of science in civil engineering program. After completing the first two years of his degree at UNB Saint John, Aziz continued his studies in Fredericton to finish his final two years. While working on his undergraduate degree, Aziz worked at OSCO Construction Group’s Strescon Limited in Saint John, NB, then had a 4-month co-op with Aecon Foundations in Toronto, ON. During this co-op, Aziz was responsible for coordinating and inspecting on-site construction activities. Finally, Aziz completed an 8-month co-op with Stantec Consulting in Fredericton, NB where he worked on hydraulics and hydrology related projects. In this final co-op, Aziz expanded his CAD modeling skills as he worked extensively on software such as AutoCAD, Civil 3D and MicroStation.

Aziz’s interest in off-site construction began after taking a special studies course about Building Information Modeling (BIM) with Dr. Zhen Lei in his fourth year as a civil engineering student. Aziz’s current research work with the OCRC focuses on improving productivity of steel fabrication workstations by using data analytics and lean manufacturing techniques. Aziz has been very passionate about playing sports since he was young, especially soccer and volleyball. When he isn’t in school, researching, or playing sports, Aziz also enjoys reading books. | LinkedIn

Research Assistant | Concurrent BCS/B.Sc. program

Yongde Hu

Yongde Hu is currently a student in the bachelor of computer science/bachelor of science concurrent degree program. At the end of this program, Yongde Hu will graduate with two degrees, a bachelor of computer science, as well as a bachelor of science with a major in physics.

With both physics and computer science as theoretical and practical background knowledge, Yongde takes particular interest in applying simulation and data/business analysis skill in Off-site construction, utilizing Industry 4.0. 

Dylan McKenna

Dylan McKenna is currently completing his Master of Science at the University of New Brunswick under the supervision of Dr. Zhen Lei. Before beginning his master’s, he earned a General Studies Diploma from Lethbridge College while playing college baseball. Following his studies at Lethbridge, Dylan earned an Engineering Diploma from the University of Prince Edward Island before transferring to UNB, where he completed his Bachelor of Science in Engineering, graduating in May 2020.

While completing his bachelor’s degree, Dylan spent two summers working for the City of Summerside as a student site inspector for municipal engineering projects. He spent last summer working as a carpenter’s apprentice for LEAD Structural Formwork Ltd. in Halifax. While attending UNB, Dylan completed two 4-month co-op terms: one as an intern with a geotechnical engineering firm in Stuttgart, Germany, and the other as an environmental engineering student with GEMTEC Ltd. at their Fredericton office. He enjoys golfing, skiing, and spending time with friends and family. | LinkedIn

Research Assistant | B.Sc. Civil Engineering

Pritish Sookar

Pritish was born and raised in Mauritius. He completed his B.Sc. in Civil Engineering at the University of New Brunswick in 2021.

In 2019, Pritish worked as a design management intern for Flatiron Construction, a construction company based in Richmond, British Columbia. During his time at Flatiron Construction, he had the opportunity to work on the design and bidding phase of two Private-Public-Partnership (P3) projects, namely the Pattullo Bridge Replacement project and the Kicking Horse Phase 4 project.

Pritish has also worked as a Civil Engineering intern with the Department of Transportation, Government of New Brunswick and as a technical student with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, Government of Nova Scotia. | LinkedIn