Michael Hendry

Michael Hendry

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Alberta

Chair title

NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Railway Engineering

Chair program

Industrial Research Chairs program


Associate Chairholder since 2018


The railway industry in Canada is an integral component of our nation’s transportation network and contributes significantly to its GDP. In an era of increasing train traffic, heavier axle loads and longer trains, the industry must maintain and operate Canada’s 48,000 km of rail lines to meet the demands of a safety-conscious society. Through the NSERC Associate Industrial Research Chair (IRC) program, the University of Alberta and its partners are collaboratively developing new technologies to assess and improve the performance and reliability of the railway system, and to establish a risk management framework for railway operations.

The research program for this IRC program has been developed through direct consultation with railway engineers and is supported by the federal regulator, Transport Canada. This strategic collaboration combines expertise and resources from each partner, which will:

  • lead to a robust and innovative platform to advance scientific knowledge at the University of Alberta;
  • develop and evaluate Canadian-led technical and methodological solutions to support and enhance the Canadian railway industry’s operations; and
  • provide evidence-based research to inform railway industry standards, increasing the industrial relevance of the University of Alberta’s research programs.

A focus of the IRC program is the training of highly knowledgeable and skilled highly qualified personnel (HQP) to ensure the continued growth and prosperity of Canada’s railway transportation system. Through the IRC research program, the University of Alberta will play a leading role in innovation, training and cooperation with the railway industry and its regulator.

Dr. Michael T. Hendry, the IRC Chairholder, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Associate Director of the Canadian Rail Research Laboratory at the University of Alberta. Over the past 12 years, Dr. Hendry has been a leader in advancing technical and methodological solutions to enhance the railway industry’s management of the risk associated with ground hazards across North America. He has also led interdisciplinary research combining engineering applications of risk assessment with the impact on people and communities. In 2017, Dr. Hendry was asked to deliver the Canadian Geotechnical Society’s Colloquium Lecture in recognition of his accomplishments as one of Canada’s emerging geotechnical researchers/scholars. The same year, Dr. Hendry was one of the leaders of a collaboration between the University of Alberta's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Geological Survey of Canada chosen by the International Programme on Landslides as a World Centre of Excellence on Landslide Disaster Reduction, the only such centre in North and South America to receive this prestigious recognition, which is in effect from 2017 to 2020.

The IRC program will provide breakthrough research, methods and technologies for the railway sector in Canada. The joining of forces among the University of Alberta, Canadian National Railway, Transport Canada and the National Research Council Canada to establish this IRC program reflects a shared commitment to the safety of Canadians and their quality of life. A large proportion of Canada’s integrated transportation system and economy relies on the fluid operation of its extensive railway system. Thus, proactive maintenance and overall safety of railway infrastructure is of significant concern, and the IRC program will address these issues.

The results of the IRC program will be immediately applicable to railway operators and will inform new and improved industry standards for implementation across the sector. A collaborative science-based approach between industry, academia and government will provide Canada with research expertise and know-how on the application of new monitoring and assessment methods and technologies to positively influence industry best practices for managing the risks and challenges associated with railway operations in Canada.


  • Canadian National Railway Company
  • Transport Canada
  • National Research Council Canada

Contact information

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta



Contact Newsletter

Get highlights of things happening at NSERC delivered to your email inbox. View all Newsletters

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Youtube
  • Instagram