Graduate Positions 2020

The YorkU fire team has a number of currently advertised graduate positions where we are looking for strong graduate students with creativity and interest in fire related themes.

We are currently recruiting 3 masters students and 1 doctoral student. Both Domestic and International students are being considered and the positions are fully funded and connected to Industry.

Two of our top available positions are the following:

  • MASc advertIn the area of Structural Fire Engineering we are looking on an initial focus on developing performance-based approaches to optimize fire protection for the Canadian construction market. This exciting opportunity is a collaboration with Entuitive, a global engineering firm in Toronto Canada (see Studies would commence mid-2020. This applied research design project will be a collaboration with Matthew Smith P.Eng with opportunities for industry internship and experience. Previous civil engineering education with Canadian engineering material standards (CSA A23, S16, and/or O86) will be considered an asset. The research is tailored for a student with a strong interest to become a consulting fire engineer in Toronto.


  • Model2In the area of Stadium Design for Fire, we are looking at a fire engineering research programme that hybrids all of fire safety engineering together as a proposed PhD project. The work would fall under a multi-collaborative team with industry partner Arup, a multi-national engineering firm. We would be considering the study of an innovative structural system for stadium design and adjoining fire behaviour and pedestrian dynamics. Previous fire engineering education with at least one of these topics of study will be considered an asset. The project is tailored for a student with a strong interest to become an academic/professor in Canada.


  • EJQ9lALXYAAcCcXOther topical areas for graduate project (Both MASc and PhD) consideration include: How compartment (room) size effects the fire dynamics of Timber structures to enable the generation of engineered tool sets; climate effects and resiliency of timber building materials to extreme hazards ; and lastly we are looking for students with interest in heritage materials in fire. Those projects are sponsored by a variety of governmental collaborations and are meant to inform standards and code development cycles.


Each of the above projects will have options for industrial internship and/or opportunities to study abroad for a term of study with our collaborators.

Those interested in these opportunities are encouraged to email Dr. John Gales P.Eng ( with a statement of interest and CV.

About YorkU Fire

We are situated in Toronto,, at Canada’s third largest university. Home to the YorkU High bay lab, we have recently received CFI funding in order to expand our fire testing facilities (see Our group uses some of the most advanced instrumentation technologies for strain and deformation measurement in fire. Our graduate team is currently 6 strong with an equal representation of undergraduate researchers. Graduate courses offered are Human Behaviour in Fire, Fire Dynamics, Structural Fire Resilience, and Fire Modelling.

York Fire Lab

Our fire lab funding was made official with a CFI-ORF grant this September. This funding advances equipment and technology for material study in fire and conducting data collection in HBIF studies with modern camera equipment. The grant will allow the fire testing lab at York University in Toronto, Canada to scale up fire testing technology. This tech will allow for testing using load and heat on realistic building frames to make buildings safer and more cost-efficient. A demonstration ‘blue-light’ fire test at York University was performed as part of the funding announcement by the government ministry. More Details here:



Evacuation Study of a Cultural Centre

abstracts1Our team’s recent human behaviour in fire research in collaboration with ARUP will be presented at Interflam in London, UK this July. Two of our multi-disciplinary papers represent an ongoing research project performed over the last three years: “Fire evacuation and strategies for cultural centres.” And “The effects of Linguistic Cues on Evacuation Movement Times”. In this research project we characterized three evacuations that occurred at a Cultural Centre over the course of three years. This project has been a major focus of our group for some time however one which requires significant consideration. We are now introducing the project to the fire community for the first time this summer for preliminary feedback as we continue to advance this very important project in the long term.

abstracts2Interflam is one of the leading fire conferences this year so the venue serves a great location. Part of our outputs are towards a comprehensive database of group based movement and decision making characteristics. We followed this with extensive surveying of linguistic evacuation cues at that centre conducted over several months to interrogate themes we observed. These results are being utilized to inform the development of evacuation modelling in our future work and collaborations.

Presentations of these papers will occur July 2nd, papers will be posted soon!

Heritage Materials in Fire

torontoAt York University, our fire research team studies heritage materials and their response to fire. Our focus has been to consider timber and masonry. Doing these studies we are in the midst of preparing revised international guidance for these important structures. More recently the events in Paris have emphasized why this is such a serious topic of research to consider. For the last two years we have focused our efforts to really understanding timber performance, and we have done this by procuring real materials (columns, beams etc) from structures undergoing renovation (adaptive re-use) or sadly demolition. The importance of this study is now even more profound given this weeks events.

Stadium Pedestrian Flow Research: Emergency Fire Evacuations

Our team’s human behaviour in Stadia project in collaboration with ARUP (a multi-year NSERC Collaborative Research Development Initiative), will be presented at Interflam in London UK this July 2nd. This student led paper by Danielle Aucoin and Tim Young represents an ongoing research project performed over the last two years. To date we have studied ingress and egress behaviour in four stadiums. We have focused on Tennis, Baseball, Soccer and Football, and our preliminary results that we can share are just appearing now.

Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Conference – Toronto 2019

The more conferences I go to that are themed around women in science and engineering, the more hopeful I become that engineers are ready to tackle problems of diversity and inclusion head on. The Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) annual conference took place this year on January 26th and 27th in Toronto. It is a society- and community-led conference, as opposed to a research-intensive conference, and it is organized as an outreach initiative. WISE 2019 has been my favourite conference on diversity and inclusion in engineering so far, precisely because of its focus on outreach and problem-solving.

2018 IAWF 15th International Wildland Fire Safety Summit and 5th Human Dimensions Conference

This past month I had the pleasure of representing the Lassonde Institute of Fire Engineering at the 15th International Wildland Fire Safety Summit and 5th Human Dimensions Conference in Asheville, North Carolina. Organized by the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF), the conference was a glowing success despite the unexpected snowstorm that threw a wrench in many attendees’ travel plans. The fact that only one presentation had to be cancelled as a result of these challenges highlighted to me just how determined and passionate the presenters and event organizers were to share the important research being conducted in the field of wildfire safety and human factors in the wildland urban interface (WUI).

The five-day conference ran from December 10th – 14th and consisted of a wide range of workshops, presentations, poster sessions, and networking opportunities. The conference went outside the box to offer various types of presentations, ranging from plenaries and panels that allowed for dialog and diverse perspectives, to deep-dives that encouraged in-depth learning and participation, to themed sessions of 20-minute presentations exploring new and innovative research being conducted. The conference also provided a unique opportunity for academics and practitioners to learn from each other, discuss partnerships and challenge assumptions. As a young academic entering the field, it was invigorating to be immersed in such a supportive environment.

Athena SWAN and Other UK-Canada Collaborations on the Topic of Diversity and Inclusivity

The month of October has been incredibly productive for our women in engineering project (led by yours truly, Natalie). Early in the month, I had the pleasure of attending the Athena SWAN conference hosted by York University, and just a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to England to link up with professionals in the engineering discipline that are working toward positive change.

Athena SWAN is a recent initiative spearheaded by the UK to increase representation of women and minorities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields. It is a program designed to reward institutions who consistently work toward promoting diversity and inclusivity, and its success lies in its rewards not being permanent. Institutions that carry Athena SWAN medals must continue to support inclusivity and diversity, else lose their medals for lack of improvement.20181009_061248This focus on accountability and endurance of effective programs and practices over time is precisely what our research in Canada is targeting. The Athena SWAN conference held at York University sought to understand how to bring the Athena SWAN framework to Canada, as many of our resources and problems are similar but there are marked differences that must be acknowledged. Key themes that emerged from this conference were the need to acknowledge the differences between recruitment, development, and retention in our research and discussions about diversity; the need for initiatives and collaborations to run at a national level; and the need for institutions to be transparent to the public about both their successes and failures. I hope to embed these themes in our continuing work on the retention of women in engineering across Canada, and to involve more and more institutions in our research program. It is clear that incentives to participate in the drive to include underrepresented folks in STEM are being developed more and more, and that means that we will hopefully start seeing the people who need to be participating start participating, to avoid preaching to the choir.

2018 Fire and Evacuation Modeling Technical Conference – Maryland

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the 2018 Fire and Evacuation Modeling Technical Conference (FEMTC). It was hosted by Thunderhead Engineering and held in Gaithersburg, Maryland, right around the corner from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This three day event spanning from October 1st to 3rd was a single-track agenda which allowed participants to watch all presentations and engage with all speakers. Attendees ranged from engineers to geo-scientists to researchers and a few students. The presentations were a fantastic balance between technical material and more high-level fire and modeling topics. I presented on the first day on stadium egress modeling our team has been conducting over the past year in collaboration with ARUP. The open access version of the paper can be found here and the presentation video at the bottom of this blog post. Our research was well-received and represents stage one of the project, in which stage two will be built upon over the next eight months. One of my favourite aspects of the conference included the fact that many of the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) software developers were in attendance. Since many of the presentations were geared towards certain aspects of FDS, a lot of the Q&A periods not only consisted of audience questions, but also of comments from these FDS developers of precise recommendations and precautions to take when utilizing FDS for specific purposes.

The Experiences of Women in Undergraduate Engineering

The following is a guest post by research assistant and team member, Natalie Mazur. This June, Natalie is presenting The Experiences of Women in Undergraduate Engineering at the 9th Canadian Engineering Education Association’s Annual Conference., Vancouver, Canada. The paper can be downloaded here . 

A long-standing issue in the field of engineering has been the representation of women. Of the students that pursue undergraduate studies, half are women. However, to this day, women make up only 21% of engineering undergraduate students in Canada. This number has not significantly changed in almost 20 years. Additionally, women make up only 17% of newly licensed engineers nationally. As we look higher and higher up the corporate ladder, fewer and fewer women are visible.