Carleton's ATLAS and Infrastructure Protection Research Gets Major Boost with $8.9 Million in CFI Grants

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Carleton University’s leading research on infrastructure protection and ATLAS, the scientific apparatus that enabled discovery of the Higgs boson, received an $8.9-million boost today from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) as part of its Innovation Fund.

“Carleton researchers strive constantly toward producing knowledge and understanding of critical issues,” said Kim Matheson, vice-president (Research and International). “The infrastructure enhancements made possible by these CFI grants will help Carleton solve real-world problems well into the future.”

Physics Prof. Gerald Oakham in the Faculty of Science has been awarded more than $6 million to establish detectors for the exploration of new frontiers in high energy physics with ATLAS. The largest collider detector ever constructed, ATLAS was one of two experiments that discovered the Higgs Boson at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN).

“Carleton is proud of the leadership our ATLAS physics group has contributed to the discovery of the Higgs boson,’’ said Dean Malcolm Butler. “This generous funding support from CFI will allow them and their Canadian partners to help lead in the pursuit of the next goal – to better understand the nature of the Higgs and to search for the physics behind and beyond the standard model of particle physics.”

Carleton, which contributed to the construction of ATLAS, is leading the deployment of an ATLAS project called the New Muon Small Wheel (NSW), keeping the university on the cutting-edge of science internationally while also engaging students in research.

Carleton is one of 10 Canadian institutions working on ATLAS and will collaborate with TRIUMF (Canada’s National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics) and the Universities of Victoria, Simon Fraser, Montreal and McGill on construction of upgrade components.

This high-profile international project provides a rare opportunity for hands-on training and employment of young Canadians and will have an enduring impact in inspiring both technological innovation and education for all citizens about the nature of our universe.

Carleton will collaborate with the University of Victoria, McGill University and Simon Fraser University.

David Lau, Carleton professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and Design, will receive more than $2.9 million to establish a multi-hazard test facility for built infrastructure protection and resilience.

“Our research-intensive Faculty of Engineering and Design is very proud of its researchers,” said Dean Rafik Goubran. “We are confident that the research will lead to novel solutions that will make our world a better place.”

Recognizing that Canada’s core public infrastructure represents a valuable public asset worth more than $500 billion, the new facility will help develop breakthrough technologies, products and techniques that will enhance the resilience and reduce the cost of constructing and maintaining future and existing Canadian infrastructure.

Previous research in the protection of infrastructure has considered separately the effect of natural and man-made hazards such as earthquakes, fires, floods, landslides, extreme cold, thawing permafrost, blasts and wind. Yet, these different hazards do not usually occur separately. For example, earthquakes often cause fires, and blasts may cause impact damage.

The new facility will leverage and integrate existing and unique strengths for fire safety, earthquakes, blasts, geotechnical, business finance, economics and public policy. This research will improve the safety and security of Canadians with better built infrastructure which also will enhance long-term economic sustainability by minimizing cost requirements. It will also better protect the environment by preventing leakage from oil and gas pipelines.

Carleton will collaborate with the University of Ottawa on the project.

The latest CFI grants were announced in Montreal by the Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology). The foundation is devoting more than $333 million for new research infrastructure.

“Our government continues to make the investments necessary to push the boundaries of knowledge, create jobs and improve the quality of life of Canadians,” said Holder. “Today’s announcement will strengthen Canada’s reputation in science and technology by supporting research infrastructure that will attract world-class talent, train a new generation of students and make discoveries that benefit Canadians in remarkable ways.”

Through the 2015 Innovation Fund, CFI seeks to support promising and innovative directions in research or technology development in areas where Canada currently is, or has the potential to be, competitive on the global stage. The CFI will support initiatives that allow institutions and their researchers to build on and enhance an emerging strategic priority area, accelerate current research and technology development work or take established capabilities to a globally competitive level.

About Carleton University:

Located in the nation’s capital, Carleton University is a dynamic research and teaching institution with a tradition of leading change. Its internationally recognized faculty, staff and researchers provide more than 25,000 full- and part-time students from every province and more than 100 countries around the world with academic opportunities in more than 65 programs of study, including public affairs, journalism, film studies, engineering, high technology, and international studies. Carleton’s creative, interdisciplinary and international approach to research has led to many significant discoveries and creative works in science and technology, business, governance, public policy and the arts. As an innovative institution Carleton is uniquely committed to developing solutions to real-world problems by pushing the boundaries of knowledge and understanding daily.

About the Canada Foundation for Innovation:

The Canada Foundation for Innovation gives researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate. By investing in state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in Canada’s universities, colleges, research hospitals and non-profit research institutions, the CFI is helping to attract and retain the world’s top talent, to train the next generation of researchers, to support private-sector innovation and to create high-quality jobs that strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life for all Canadians. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter: @InnovationCA.

Media Inquiries:
Chris Cline
Media Relations Officer
Carleton University
613-520-2600, ext. 1391
christopher_clineatcarleton [dot] ca