Civil Engineering faculty and students win Best Paper awards at Canadian Society for Civil Engineering conference

UBC Civil Engineering faculty and students received best paper awards at the 2022 Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) Annual Conference recently held in Whistler, BC.

Professor Tarek Sayed was awarded the Thomas C. Keefer Medal for his paper, “Enhancing unsupervised video-based vehicle tracking and modeling for traffic data collection,” co-authored with Mohamed H. Zaki and Moataz Billeh.

The paper illustrates a new computer vision approach to traffic video surveillance and proposes two major improvements. It also evaluates the effectiveness of these approaches through a case study using real-life traffic video data from three Canadian cities.

The Keefer Medal, established in 1941, is presented annually for the best civil engineering paper in hydrotechnical, transportation, or environmental engineering.

First-year PhD students Weijia Cai and Lei Huang received the Best Student Paper Award, General Conference. Written under the supervision of Assistant Professor Zhengbo Zou, their paper is titled “Virtual Reality-Based Expert Demonstrations for Training Construction Robots via Imitation Learning.”

Weijia Cai (left), Lei Huang (right)

The paper was recognized for proposing a novel approach to training robot arms to conduct construction activities in simulation. It describes in detail how activities such as window pickup and installation can be successfully automated via an imitation learning paradigm that learns from demonstrations collected in virtual reality.

“The integration of robotics into the construction industry is integral to solving current and persistent global challenges such as labour shortage, low productivity, and unsafe working conditions,” said co-authors Cai and Huang.

Earlier in the month, Cai and Huang attended the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Philadelphia, PA, which is the flagship conference on robotics, internationally. At the conference, each student had a paper accepted into the Workshop on Future of Construction: Build Faster, Better, Safe – Together with Robotics.

Congratulations to everyone on your accolades!