The Human Building Interaction Lab is always looking for talented, creative, and ambitious engineering students (of all disciplines) to perform innovative research projects. Our projects range from very hands-on to theoretical. See the Projects webpage for typical HBI Lab projects. If you are interested, please submit a current CV, transcript(s), and a sample of writing to Prof. O’Brien ( For the first four projects, also CC Burak Gunay (

Specific positions include, but are not limited to:

  1. Systematic simplified energy modelling of building portfolio. Goal: Develop and apply workflow to convert building details into simplified models that can be systematically optimized to identify operations and retrofit opportunities.
  2. Visualization of building operational energy and impact of retrofits. Goal: Provide greater understanding of multi-scale building energy and GHG flows to key stakeholders (operators, tenants, policy/decision makers).
  3. Measurement and quantification of occupant building utilization. Goal: Identify opportunities for improved space utilization and quantify corresponding energy, GHG, and cost savings.
  4. Text-mining operator logbooks to develop preventive maintenance strategies. Goals: 1.Identify top work-order types and their occurrence frequencies; 2.Analyze how maintenance efforts are distributed in building clusters; 3.Analyze work-order intensities with archived sensor/meter data and look for symptoms in the sensor datasets; 4.Develop recommendations to optimize maintenance efforts.
  5. PhD: Development and testing of novel building controls techniques and field studies in the Health Sciences Building. 
  6. PhD: Design using occupant behaviour modelling and simulation. Use simulation to design and optimize novel building concepts to both reduce energy use and provide a more comfortable indoor environment.
  7. MASc or PhD: Field studies to observe/model occupant behaviour and comfort. Occupants have fascinating and often puzzling behaviours that can only be properly assessed through field studies. This position entails designing an experiment to monitor -directly or indirectly- occupants and their interaction with buildings (e.g., blinds, windows, thermostats, lighting, equipment, etc.) to contribute to the ever-growing field of occupant behaviour modelling and simulation.

Why should you consider graduate school? (brief philosophy by Prof. Liam O’Brien)

Graduate school provides an opportunity to get really good at something and even become nationally or internationally recognized as a leading expert. Generally, in contrast to working in industry, where the bottom line is a nagging motivator, graduate students are given a fair bit of flexibility to ask deeper questions and spend the time needed to truly understand complex problems. The HBI Lab works on a variety of applied problems and often with industry, but in an environment that supports attention to detail, quality of work, and curiosity. As a graduate student, you are largely your own boss and your success or failure depends on what you invest. My own graduate experience was tremendously rewarding (I produced research I’m very proud of, I rapidly built a large network of connections, I travelled the world, and I was ambushed with job opportunities upon graduation). Now, as a professor and PI of the HBI Lab, I have unparalleled flexibility to pursue my interests. I try to reproduce this excellent graduate school experience for my own graduate students, while working with them to customize their path to achieve their ultimate goals. I enjoy working with all types of students, including those who: are keen on theory focus on more mathematically complex problems; want applied hands-on experience focus on projects involving industry or experiments; and, are keen on working in the field typically perform projects that interact with or monitor occupants. But like virtually every aspect of live, graduate students get out what they put in.

Where do our students end up? There is such great demand for professionals with expertise in building performance, indoor environmental quality, and occupant behaviour that our students typically get recruited before they even graduate. Some key examples include:

  1. Burak Gunay, PhD, was recruited by the National Research Council prior to graduation and subsequently was hired by Carleton University as an assistant professor.
  2. Aly Abdelalim, PhD, Assistant Professor, Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport, Egypt
  3. Mohamed Ouf, PhD, Assistant Professor, Building, Civil, and Environmental Engineering, Concordia University
  4. Brent Huchuk, MASc, was recruited by Ecobee as a data scientist and is currently doing a part-time PhD (back with HBI Lab) while working for Ecobee.
  5. Austin Selvig, MASc, is working for Aruborus Consulting in Ottawa as a building modeller.