Arlin Otto is an I-CUREUS participant in the Architectural Conservation and Sustainability Engineering program.

She says:

My research was in structural fire safety engineering under the supervision of Dr. John Gales. My role in this research was to create the test plan, make the test samples, and perform and analyze the results from the experiments. I specifically looked at the behaviour of laminated veneer lumber (LVL) with external steel plated connections in fire. To do this, I used two pieces of equipment available in the Carleton University fire laboratory; the LIFT apparatus to propagate flame down a sample, and a cone calorimeter to apply a heat flux to a sample surface.

The purpose of this project was to study the behaviour and to develop the imaging technique to help define external connections in fire. Engineered wood products (EWP) are becoming increasingly popular as a construction material when compared to traditional steel, masonry, and concrete construction. Laminate veneer lumber (LVL) is a popular construction material choice in mass timber applications, specifically mid-rise construction, for its strength properties in comparison to traditional timber members. Connections between members are either external connections or internal concealed connections fabricated out of steel or other metals.

two charred boards on paper

Observing the char depth and flame spread rate in laminated veneer lumber for my undergraduate thesis

My research was actually quite different from my coursework as there are not many courses in fire engineering offered at the undergraduate level. I used my knowledge from CIVE 4202 (Wood Engineering) to explore options for different connection styles to test while I was creating test plans. Additionally, I did a comprehensive literary review at the beginning of the research to expand my knowledge base. The research was done for a undergraduate thesis style research project (CIVE 4907) which is similar to the capstone design project (CIVE 4918) for engineering students although is it an elective. It is a two-term class available to students in their final year of engineering and provides credit for an 8-month research project.

Arlin was the primary author on two papers and presented her research at Fire and Materials 2017 in San Francisco, California.

I have gained so many skills from my research project! I have become more comfortable in the laboratory, more confident using both of the testing apparatus’s with the help of a laboratory technologist, and more experienced fabricating test samples on my own. I have gained insight into the profession of fire safety engineering and the behavior of timber in fire. I was also able to collaborate on this research with the National Fire Research Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

I would definitely recommend the I-CUREUS program, it was a way for me to get funding as an undergraduate student for my undergraduate thesis!

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