Emphasis in Waterpower

Hydropower iconAs the world strives for decarbonization, the energy supply is in transition and waterpower is in a unique position to support this change. As the oldest form of  low carbon energy, waterpower’s role is becoming even more important. The energy transition is demanding more flexibility to support other renewable technologies, upgrading of aging infrastructure that not only support the electricity grid, but are also imperative for integrated water management around flood mitigation, navigation and recreations. There are exciting opportunities around new energy storage facilities, and investment in small waterpower at the distribution level. The challenges are many, but waterpower stations are uniquely suited to tackle these challenges, embedded in communities and ecosystems all across Canada. They are long term assets, in a world of short-term investment. A emphasis focused on waterpower aims to prepare students for the unique challenges of this technology and growing opportunities in the industry, drawing on its long history and the many lessons learnt, especially in the domain of sustainable development.

Industry support: The curriculum has been developed in partnership with the Ontario Waterpower Association (OWA). The OWA is a non-profit organization representing the collective interest of the waterpower sector. Their membership includes generators, engineering firms, environmental consultants, legal, project financing and insurance firms, First Nations communities and other organizations.

 “Educating the next generation of waterpower professionals has been an ongoing need for some time,” said Bill Touzel, OWA Board member. “This new University of Toronto Master’s emphasis has specific hydropower-focused courses that aim to bridge the gap between engineering students, industry professionals, and those who are interested and passionate about the unique attributes that waterpower technology can bring to the table to solve future challenges.”

“Providing an academic pathway for waterpower professionals is of the utmost importance to our industry,” said Paul Norris, President of OWA. “Waterpower has been the backbone of the electricity system for over a century and now, more than ever, newly trained waterpower professionals are needed to balance the ongoing complexities of economic, environmental, and social challenges we face as a society.”

The curriculum is being designed and delivered in close collaboration with an OWA Advisory Committee, including two new graduate courses, which will be offered in the 2021-2022 academic year. The OWA is also consulting with faculty to introduce waterpower specific content to the existing CIV550. Finally, a new Technical Emphasis in Waterpower is now available for CIV and MIE MEng students.


MEng students in the Departments of Civil and Mineral Engineering, and Mechanical and Industrial Engineering can earn an Emphasis in Waterpower by completing four courses: APS1410: Waterpower Essentials (formerly CIV1398), plus at least one course from Set A, and the remainder from Set B.

Students who complete this emphasis will have it notated on their transcript.

Some courses may satisfy the requirements of multiple emphases. Students may double-count a maximum of one course towards the requirements of any two emphases.

Students cannot earn more than two emphases.

Core course:

  • APS1410: Waterpower Essentials (formerly CIV1398) (does not count towards ELITE Emphasis)

This course presents an overview of the waterpower industry, beginning with its ecological and historical contex, how power stations work, and their major components. After a site tour, students will consider the major decision making factors in the design of a waterpower facility: policy and planning considerations, the business case, commercial markets, and risk management. With this, the finer details of power station design are introduced: turbine selection, electrical and control components, as well as how these components work. Further, students are introduced to operations and maintenance considerations, contract models, and dam safety. A course project will mirror these topics, as students evaluate the feasibility of a greenfield waterpower facility. With the support of industry professionals, students will work through the complexity and ambiguity of a development project.

Fall 2024 Schedule: Sept 11 - Dec 18, Wed 3-6pm in BA2195

Set A:   Choose at least 1:

  • APS1411: Renewal of Waterpower Facilities (formerly under CIVXXXX Special Topics) (does not count towards ELITE Emphasis)

Waterpower infrastructure is both ageing and being repurposed. This course looks at how the design of waterpower dams, structures and equipment has been shaped by technological change over time. Students will learn to analyze the upgrade potential of an existing plant; review the tools and data available to understand site condition and to be aware of modernization scope for structures and equipment.

Winter 2025 Schedule: Jan 8 - April 9, Wednesdays 3-6pm, Online course, Synchronous delivery

  • CIV550: Water Resources Engineering (Fall, 2021)

This course covers global, national and regional water issues, law and legislation; Hydraulic structures; Reservoir analysis; Urban drainage and runoff control: meteorological data analysis, deterministic and stochastic modeling techniques; Flood control: structural and nonstructural alternatives; Power generation: hydro and thermal power generation. Low flow augmentation; Economics and decision making.

Set B:  Choose 1-2:

  • APS1024: Infrastructure Resilience Planning
  • APS1032: Introduction to Energy Project Management
  • CIV1001: MEng Project (project must be approved by Sharon Mandair)
  • CIV1252: Infrastructure Renewal (Concrete)
  • CIV1303: Water Resource Modelling
  • CIV1420H: Soil Properties and Behaviour
  • CIV1163 - Mechanics of Reinforced Concrete
  • CIV1171 - Principles of Earthquake Engineering and Seismic Design
  • CIV1275 - Construction Modelling Methods
  • CIV1279 - Construction Contract Documents
  • CIV1281 - Asset Management: Quantitative Tools and Methods
  • CIV1399 - Special Studies in Civil Engineering: Large Scale Infrastructure and Sustainability
  • CIV401: Design of Hydro and Wind Electric Plants
  • CIV514: Concrete Technology
  • CIV523: Geotechnical Design
  • CIV580: Engineering and Management of Large Projects
  • AER1410HF: Topology Optimisation
  • ECE520H: Power Electronics
  • ECE1049H Special Topics in Energy Systems: Power System Protection
  • ECE1059H Special Topics in Energy Systems: Fundamentals of Power-Flow and Modeling of Electric Power
  • ECE1093H Electrical Insulation Design and Coordination
  • ECE1094H Mathematical Methods in Power Systems
  • ENV1001: Environmental Decision Making
  • ENV1701: Environmental Law
  • ENV1703: Water Resource Management and Policy
  • MIE1201: Advanced Fluid Mechanics
  • MIE1207HF: Structure of Turbulent Flows
  • MIE1210 HS - Computational Fluid Mechanics & Heat Transfer
  • MIE1222: Multiphase flow
  • MIE1241HF: Energy Management

For further inquiries, contact Sharon Mandair, sharon.mandair@mail.utoronto.ca