Meet Hammad Ahmad

2024 Winner of the Graduate Dean’s Student Leadership Award


Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering

Research Supervisors

Dr. Rehan Sadiq & Dr. Kasun Hewage


Lahore, Pakistan


  • UBC Okanagan Graduate Dean’s Student Leadership Award
  • UBC Okanagan Graduate Research Scholarship
  • International Four-Year Doctoral Partial Tuition Award
  • Special University of BC Okanagan Graduate Award

Award Impact

During my time at UBC Okanagan, I have stayed dedicated to improving the graduate school experience for my fellow students. I have organized over 70 events, initiatives, and resources of varying natures and advocated at different platforms for my colleagues. Moreover, I participate in different clubs including the Engineering Graduate Students’ Society (EGSS), the Graduate Student Committee (GSC), the Muslim Students’ Association and the Tennis Club. I restarted the Tennis Club at UBCO, which has catered to the needs of undergraduate and graduate students alike since March 2022. Furthermore, I volunteered at UBCO occasions like Convocation, Orientation, and campus tours for graduate students. Additionally, I won the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition at UBCO (first winner from Engineering) and represented the university at the Western Canada Regional competition hosted by the University of Winnipeg.

The Graduate Dean’s Student Leadership Award is a long-awaited acknowledgement of the leadership and volunteer work that I have done at UBCO over the years for students in general and graduate students in particular. I am delighted to receive this recognition and I hope it will encourage more students to take up leadership roles and contribute toward enhanced graduate student experiences at UBC Okanagan.

What inspires you about your research?

I completed my bachelor of civil engineering and master of structural engineering from the University of Engineering & Technology Lahore-Pakistan. My master’s thesis was focused on strengthening the concrete damaged by elevated temperature and mechanical loading. In the final stages of my work, I was introduced to the concepts of sustainability and life cycle assessment (LCA) through literature and seminars. Life cycle assessment is a tool to investigate the environmental impacts of any product throughout its life cycle stages. Further, I realized that the area of life cycle assessment is underdeveloped in my country and it is vital for the construction industry where construction and use phases get more attention than the preliminary and final phases of a building’s life. This inspired me to pursue the newer area of LCA to challenge myself with new learning and contribute toward the betterment of the construction sector and university education in the region.

The construction industry is one of the major industries globally with marvelous infrastructure, bridges, and skyscrapers demonstrating the evolution of human creativity and complexity of engineering design. Global construction projects not only provide housing and other facilities to its occupants and users, but they also employ millions of people. Despite the widespread benefits of the construction industry and its importance to the economy, it is considered to be one of the major contributors to global socio-environmental problems, including greenhouse gas emissions, construction and demolition waste, high energy consumption, socio-economic impacts, and other emissions (Chang et al., 2011; Flower & Sanjayan, 2007; Yeheyis et al., 2013). Consequently, there is an ongoing effort worldwide to incorporate sustainability in construction materials and practices to combat the aforementioned problems.

Numerous alternatives have been explored including supplementary cementitious materials, recycling of waste and geopolymers. In my research, I focus on the use of natural fiber-based biocomposites in construction, their structural integrity, and sustainability. Whenever a new material enters the research arena and subsequently the market, it comes with uncertainties and questions. My research attempts to answer these questions by following interconnected methodological steps:

  • Identification of commercially viable biocomposites and their potential application in building construction;
  • Evaluation of structural performance of the selected biocomposites;
  • Assessing the environmental and economic impacts of the selected biocomposites throughout their life cycle;
  • Development of a decision support framework to integrate the structural and life cycle evaluations to rank and select suitable material.

This incorporative decision support framework aims to provide useful insight to researchers, civil engineers, government, policymakers, and people associated with agriculture and forestry.

To learn more about my research, you can either stop me on campus or reach out to me

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

Ever since I started my undergraduate studies, I have been continuously associated with academic institutes in different capacities including being a student, government officer, and a teacher. The pleasant experiences with my students, colleagues, and friends helped me thrive and shine in a university environment. My motivation to pursue an academic career at a university was the primary driving factor to undertake a PhD program abroad. I can comfortably say that not only has it trained me to become an experienced researcher, but it has also provided an opportunity to enhance my teaching, community engagement, and leadership skills. Moreover, it gave me a platform to understand the diverse perspectives by working in a multicultural environment.

Why did you choose to come to UBC Okanagan?

Three major aspects played an important role in my decision to pursue my PhD at UBC Okanagan. First, like many prospective graduate students, I was hoping to get admission at one of the top-ranked universities in the world after securing the first position in my master’s program. UBC is not only one of the highest-ranked universities in Canada, but also in the world. Second, my master’s thesis was under the structural engineering theme and I wanted to learn and incorporate the concepts of sustainability in general and life cycle assessment in particular to my research. This led me to join the Life Cycle Management Lab (LCML) under Dr. Sadiq and Dr. Hewage. LCML is one of the best and most unique labs in the area of life cycle assessment and management. Third, the medium of instruction for my previous education in Pakistan was English, which also played a small role in selecting Canada as my destination, because a PhD is a long journey and not having a language barrier makes your journey significantly convenient.

Please share a little bit about yourself.

From early childhood, I had the appetite to explore and engage in different hobbies. Since my school days, I have participated in competitions and activities of a diverse nature including poetry, speeches, debates, national songs, exhibitions, presentations, and general knowledge quizzes. Moreover, I have always been an avid sports fan. I am fond of playing tennis, cricket, and badminton, but am always open to trying different sports. In Pakistan, I represented my university’s tennis team as captain during my undergraduate and master’s programs while also competing in provincial and national level competitions. In Kelowna, I have also been fortunate to win multiple tennis and cricket competitions at the university and regional level. Apart from this, I also like content creation, photography, travelling, hikes, and summer activities (paddle boarding, kayaking, etc.). In short, if you want to be friends with me, you have to either be a person of (slightly) artistic taste or you have to be a sporty person.

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