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Designing roads… and reducing pollution!
March 13, 2017
Luc Pellecuer, a Civil Engineering Researcher.
Constructing roads while striving to reduce the impact of pollutants, greenhouse gases and noise may seem paradoxical, but not for Luc Pellecuer, a Civil Engineering Researcher whose interests extend beyond engineering to other disciplines, such as geography and psychology.
These interests have taught him that the various elements of road design, including the number and width of lanes and the visual environment created by trees, green spaces and the street furniture, produce a significant impact on drivers, to the effect that they tend to reduce their speed, and therefore, generate less noise, pollutants and greenhouse gases.
Having a concrete impact on society
Luc often asked himself how, as an engineer, he could contribute to the development of society. He found the answer while working on his Master’s program while teaching at the Bachelor level. He could impact the world by integrating the principles of sustainable development into his teaching: “In the first place, engineers are not well trained in terms of integrating the principles of sustainable development into their work. It is not because of a lack of desire to do so, but rather a lack of methods and knowledge”, he explains.
Luc’s desire to transpose the methods and knowledge associated with sustainable development onto the engineering and university worlds was the driving force behind his interest in research. “University is a good starting point for introducing long-term change. We can have a definite impact on society and the environment by increasing awareness among and educating future generations with respect to sustainable development”, he adds.
Knowing how to challenge preconceived notions and thinking outside the box
Truth be told, the image of the lone researcher entrenched in his laboratory is far removed from his experience. “In order to be effective, a researcher must enjoy putting his ideas up against others. He must be able to work as part of a team, to express his own thoughts and understand how researchers in other disciplines think. This is how an engineer will be able to think outside the box and offer innovative solutions to problems that are all too real”, he concludes.
On the cuff
1. How can students prepare themselves for research?
By meeting with doctoral and post-doctoral students, by doing a work term at a research centre. They can also cultivate a scientific culture by watching science-related shows and documentaries intended for the general public.
2. What qualities do you look for in a student?
Motivation. A student who is motivated by my field of research and who demonstrates curiosity. Sometimes, I even recruit talented students from one of my courses.
3. How should students prepare themselves before meeting with you?
The same way they would prepare for a job interview. They should be themselves.
4. What is the impact of research on our everyday lives?
Research establishes a link between the designers and the decision-makers.
5. When will you be starting you research work?
In the summer of 2017. I am currently working on my research plan. At the beginning, it will involve establishing links between the traces left by drivers’ GPS signals and pollutants.
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