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Top 10 Under 40: Dr. Sina Varamini from McAsphalt Industries


December 6, 2021
By Rock to Road staff

Topics
McAsphalt IndustriesDr. Sina Varamini, Manager of research and development at McAsphalt Industries

Dr. Sina Varamini, Manager of research and development at McAsphalt Industries, has been named as a recipient of Rock to Road’s Top 10 Under 40.

Each year, the Top 10 Under 40 list celebrates the future leaders of the roadbuilding and aggregate industries.

Sina has made numerous valuable contributions to the McAsphalt Industries and has advanced the roadbuilding industry with his research.

Sina started his career in the industry as a co-op student in Nova Scotia working for General Liquids Canada, GLC (part of Dexter Construction), doing field work and technician work in the labs. After completing his co-op placement and undergraduate and master’s degrees in applied science at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Sina continued to work with the company, becoming increasingly interested in the industry.

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“I proposed an idea to them to use recycled plastic for roads and that became a three-way partnership between GLC, the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and Centre for Innovation in Infrastructure (CII) at Dalhousie University. I presented the research outcome at the Canadian Technical Asphalt Association (CTAA) annual conference in November of 2013. Then shortly after my presentation, a renowned and respected professor (Susan Tighe) interviewed me for a PHD position, and the rest is history,’” Sina recalls.

“I went to the University of Waterloo a few months after and worked under her supervision on a practical and applied science PhD program. This experience not only enabled me to work with different stakeholders and a variety of public agencies, it also groomed me to manage stakeholder relationships. It was a really dynamic work environment, while doing my PhD at a state-of-the-art research facility at University of Waterloo’s Centre for Pavement and Transportation Technology. With the unwavering support of Prof. Tighe, I was able to finish my PhD in record time, about three years.”

PhD thesis

While completing his PhD thesis titled, “Technical, Economic and Environmental Evaluation of Warm Mix Asphalt and Coloured Asphalt for Usage in Canada,” Sina ended up working on a project with a few different companies in the industry, including McAsphalt Industries.

“Right before I graduated, they offered me the job of managing the company’s complex R&D portfolio in Canada. During this time, I have had the opportunity to develop many professional, technical and leadership skills required in developing practical and technically-advanced pavement products and processes. It required a great deal of iterative efforts in balancing what is practical to manufacture and construct,” Sina says.

Despite his busy position with McAsphalt Industries, Sina still finds time to work with students at various universities.

“At the same time, I have maintained strong relationships between McAsphalt and academia. I have adjunct professorship positions at the University of Waterloo, University of Manitoba and University of New Brunswick. This is a non-paid position, but it allows me to be part of cutting-edge research and help with the career growth of graduate students. It also allows me to help graduate students and professors to come up with practical ideas. I am also a part-time instructor at York University in Toronto for the last four years teaching the fourth year Pavement Design and Materials course,” he says.

McAsphalt Industries research

Sina’s research at McAsphalt Industries has helped the company create new solutions for the roadbuilding industry.

“His research, vision and leadership has enabled the company to introduce innovative specialty pavement solutions for many applications and functions including low-volume roads, bridge decks, commercial ports, and airfield pavements,” says Michael Esenwa, design and engineering services manager, McAsphalt Industries. “Sina is known for his passion of sharing knowledge and experience with agency owners responsible for turning tax dollars into sustainable infrastructure for the general public to use – providing solutions in combating climate change effects and ever-increasing heavy traffic.”

Sina also enjoys speaking at industry seminars and lunch and learns so he can share his knowledge and research. He holds a variety of leadership positions within Canadian industry associations including:

  • Vice-chair of the Soil and Materials Committee at the Transportation Association of Canada
  • Second vice-chair of the Canadian User Producer Group for Asphalt (CUPGA), reporting to the Board of Directors at the Canadian Technical Asphalt Association (CTAA)
  • Chair of the Ontario Expert Task Group (OETG), reporting to the Ontario Asphalt Pavement Council (OAPC)/Ontario Road Builders Association (ORBA)
  • Member of ORBA’s Education Committee

“Sina has maintained close connection with academia since his graduation in 2016. He has been actively working with the research team at the University of Waterloo as an adjunct assistant professor. In that capacity, he has been part of research work focused on a wide range of topics, including airfield pavement management, use of lightweight cellular concrete and pavement aggregate evaluations and performance, and the use of non-invasive self-healing materials in pavements. During this time, he has mentored various graduate students by reviewing their work and providing both technical and career advice,” Michael says.

“Sina has authored and co-authored more than 30 technical reports and peer-reviewed publications. Sina’s dedication to the industry and McAsphalt so early on in his career have been invaluable.”

Sina’s main goal is to move the industry towards greater public-private partnership settings.

“That really enables all stakeholders to innovate or allow innovation to play a role. The existing contractual model is really hurting the innovation with the low-bid system. Any innovation comes at a cost, and it comes head-to-head, as long as we have the low-bid system in place. My dream for this industry would be all the roadbuilding jobs involve a degree of public-private partnership, P3 that would allow innovation to flourish ensuring our industry’s resiliency against major changes such as climate” he says.