Wahid Maref

Efficient and intelligent construction

April 3, 2017
Wahid Maref is a professor-researcher
from the Department of construction engineering.
The construction industry is the largest economic sector in Québec, generating approximately $47 billion in investments annually. As is the case with other industries, it must innovate in order to remain competitive and ensure its own survival. The complexity of the construction industry only adds to the challenge.

The construction ecosystem comprises manufacturers that produce new products and systems; contractors who install them; and architects and engineers who select, integrate and assemble them. This is where Wahid Maref comes in. His goal is to help engineers make enlightened decisions that take into account all aspects of a building.

Solving one problem without creating others

For those who want to find the right solution to a problem, the researcher points out the importance of having an overall view of a building. What is the benefit in installing an ultra-efficient heating system if the building envelope is not also energy efficient?

Everything is connected, from mechanical and electrical systems to the building envelope to heating and ventilation systems. And just in case it isn’t already complicated enough, the decisions that are made must also take into account climate change and all of the extreme events that result from it, including monster storms and radical temperature fluctuations.

Understanding the connections

In light of this, the work that Professor Maref is doing leads to a better understanding of the interconnections among all of these elements. “In this context, any engineer with a Master’s degree is well equipped to select the proper materials and components. They know how to solve one problem … without creating another”, Wahid Maref explains. In addition, by arming themselves with highly specialized expertise, engineers are able to make these decisions quickly … much to the delight of developers!

Off the cuff

What are the qualities of a good researcher? 
Honesty and integrity. The ability to think outside the box.

What qualities do you look for in a student?
I have to sense in them a desire to carry out research and a certain curiosity. I also like it when students know what they want to accomplish. After that, it’s up to me to coach them and guide them along the path in order to attain their objectives, along with those that we set together.

What is a Master’s degree worth on the job market?
The broader scope of knowledge that Master’s students possess in the field of building science allows them to solve problems more quickly. Their in-depth knowledge helps them to recognize connections more easily, and to be more confident in selecting solutions, which enhances their effectiveness on the job site.

What led you into the field of research?
I kind of fell into the world of research by chance. I had to study the controls for a ceiling-mounted radiant heating system within the context of a work -term. That was when I realized that I needed to expand my knowledge, not only of the heating system and its controls, but also of the feeling of comfort, which led me to learn more about thermal stratification.

What has research taught you about yourself?
That I am able to persevere and I am not afraid to face challenges, even if I am well aware of the beginning and the end, but not what comes in between. I am not afraid of the unknown. In fact, I welcome it! I also like getting out of my comfort zone.
Pour information
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Chantal Crevier
514 396-8800, poste 7893

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