Juan Hiedra Cobo

Roles and responsibilities

I joined the National Research Council of Canada to lead the research work on adaptation of Canadian rail and transit infrastructure to climate change effects. I am the Technical Lead for Rail & Transit projects under the Climate Resilient Building Environment initiative at the Sustainable Resilient Infrastructures and Communities (SRIC) unit at the Construction Research Centre.

My fields of expertise include: Transportation engineering (Rail & Transit infrastructure, Roads and Airports infrastructure), Geotechnical engineering (stability of earth dams and slopes), Cold Regions Engineering (permafrost and freeze and thaw cycles), Remote Sensing and on-site monitoring of transportation infrastructure (ground deformation), development of Climate Change adaptation and mitigation measures, and the development of Artificial Intelligence algorithms related to the topics in reference. 

Current research and/or projects

  • Development of an integral transportation model for climate resilient rail based transit and roads in Canada
  • Combined use of satellite data (InSAR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms to map permafrost degradation due to climate change and its effects to Canadian transportation infrastructure
  • Geotechnical aspects of Climate Change adaptation of Dams in Canada
  • Adaptation and Mitigation Techniques to Control Permafrost Degradation

Research and/or project statements

  • Development of an integral transportation model for climate resilient rail based transit and roads in Canada
  • Combined use of satellite data (InSAR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms to map permafrost degradation due to climate change and its effects to Canadian transportation infrastructure
  • Geotechnical aspects of Climate Change adaptation of Dams in Canada
  • Adaptation and Mitigation Techniques to Control Permafrost Degradation

Education

1999: Diploma in Management in Public Transportation Systems at Italian Railway Institute (Italferr-Ferrovia dello Stato), Italy.

1986: Ph.D. in Geotechnical Engineering. University of Surrey, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Guildford, U.K.

1981: Universidad Metropolitana, Caracas, Venezuela. B.A.Sc. in Civil Engineering.

Professional activities/interests

• Transportation Engineering: Rail & Transit Infrastructure, Roads, Airports, Ports

• Geotechnical and Environmental Engineering: Slope Stability, Permafrost, Foundations

• Monitoring and Instrumentation for geotechnical and environmental purposes

Affiliations

2012 - present: Canadian Geotechnical Society

2022 - present: Canadian Dams Association

2018 - present: Canadian Permafrost Society

1986 - present: International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE)

Awards

2023: Finalist to the Climate Action Achievement Award from Transportation Association of Canada (TAC).

2022: Construction Research Centre Director General Innovation Award

2022: Construction Research Centre Value for Canada Award - Major accomplishments under CRBCPI.

2022: Honorable mention for NRC’s Value for Canada Award - Major accomplishments under CRBCPI.

2022: NRC Inventor Fixed Milestone Award.

Certification/Licenses/Trades

2018 - present: Professional Engineers Ontario

Key publications

KEY PUBLICATIONS 

1.     Farhangmehr, V., Hiedra Cobo, J., Mohammadian, A., Payeur, P., Shirkhani, H., Imanian, H. (2023). A Convolutional Neural Network Model for Soil Temperature Prediction under Ordinary and Hot Weather Conditions: Comparison with a Multilayer Perceptron Model. Peer reviewed journal Sustainability, 15, 7897; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15107897.

2.     Imanian, H., Shirkhani, H., Mohammadian, A., Hiedra Cobo, J., and Payeur, P. (2023). Spatial Interpolation of Soil Temperature and Water Content in the Land-Water Interface Using Artificial Intelligence. Peer reviewed journal Water 2023, 15(3), 473; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15030473.

3.     Taheri, M., Schreiner, H.K., Mohammadian, A., Shirkhani, H., Payeur, P., Imanian, H., and Hiedra Cobo, J. (2023) A Review of Machine Learning Approaches to Soil Temperature Estimation. Peer reviewed journal Sustainability, 15(9), 7677; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15097677.

4.     Imanian, H., Hiedra Cobo, J., Payeur, P., Shirkhani, H., and Mohammadian, A. (2022). A comprehensive study of artificial intelligence applications for soil temperature prediction in Ordinary Climate Conditions and Extremely Hot Events. Peer reviewed Special Issue of Sustainable 14(13), 8065; Water Resources Management and Sustainable Environment https://doi.org/10.3390/su14138065.

5.     Maadani, O., Shafiee, M. and Hiedra Cobo, J. (2023). Development of Climate Adaptation and Asphalt Selection Tool (CAAST). Journal Towards the Road of Future - Sustainability and Innovation in Pavement. 

6.     Maadani, O., Shafiee, M. and Hiedra Cobo, J. (2023). Impact of climate change and extreme weather events on asphalt selection-Case study. Journal Towards the Road of Future - Sustainability and Innovation in Pavement.

7.     Roghani, A., Caldwell, R. and Hiedra Cobo, J.C. (2021) Lessons learned from a long-term frost heave monitoring under a railway embankment: Journal of Cold Regions Engineering. 

8.     Roghani, A., Hiedra Cobo, J., Meehan, J., Verluise, F., Charbachi, P (2020). Monitoring Track Surface Deformation during a Freeze-Thaw Cycle, a Case Study. Proceedings of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC, USA.

9.     Le Borgne, V, Roghani, A, Hiedra Cobo, J., Charbachi, P. (2019). Design and installation of a geotechnical monitoring system for monitoring freeze-thaw cycles on a railway track. 18th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering and 8th Canadian Permafrost Conference, ISBN 978-0-7844-8259-9. Cold Region Engineering (ASCE) 2020:153–60 https://doi.org/doi:10.1061/9780784482599.018.

10.   Roghani, A., Hiedra Cobo, J., & Charbachi, P. (2019). Studying the impact of freeze thaw cycles on performance of railway tracks. International Heavy Haul Conference Narvik, Norway (pp. 897-902). , ISBN: 9780911382716.

11.    Taheri, M., Schreiner, H.K., Mohammadian, A., Shirkhani, H., Payeur, P., Imanian, H., and Hiedra Cobo, J. (submitted 2023; under review) A Review of Machine Learning Approaches to Soil Temperature Estimation. 

12.    Shafiee, M., Maadani, O. and Hiedra Cobo, J. (submitted 2023; under review) Comparison between MERRA-2 and CWEEDS for Use in Pavement Mechanistic-Empirical Design in Canada (under review). 

13.    Shafiee, M., Roshani, E., Maadani, O., Shirkhani, H., Hiedra Cobo, J., and Colombo, A. (2021). “A Climate Risk Assessment Tool for Performance Graded Asphalt Cement Used in Airport Pavements: PGAC-CC Software User’s Guide”, Transport Canada and National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, Canada. Available at NRC web site as Online tool: Performance-Graded Asphalt Cement under a Changing Climate (PGAC3) - National Research Council Canada

14.   Cai, X., Mohammadian, A., Hiedra Cobo, J., Shirkhani, H., Imanian, H., and Payeur, P. (submitted 2023; under review) Soil temperature prediction in ordinary and extremely hot weather using genetic programming”, Book chapter in “Intelligence systems for Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences (Methods, Models and Applications)” Elsevier. Also submitted as a journal paper (under review). 

15    Clayton, C.R.I., Symons, I.F. and Hiedra Cobo, J.C. (1991). The pressure of clay backfi­ll against retaining structures. Canadian Geotechnical Journal Vol 28, April, 282–297.

16    Hiedra Lopez, J.C. and Hiedra Cobo, J.C. (1989) Foundations of buildings on deep fills compacted by high energy impacts. De Mello Volume International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE), pp. 177-183. Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

Conference Papers

1.     Hiedra Cobo, J., Cusson, D., and Ozkan, I. (2022) Proposed use of InSAR analysis to monitor vertical displacements of rail tracks and other linear infrastructure. 11th International Conference on Structural Health Monitoring of Intelligent Infrastructure, Montreal, Canada. 

2.     Cusson, D., Ozkan, I., and Hiedra Cobo, J. (2022). Satellite monitoring of bridges from radar imagery – Case study on Samuel de Champlain Bridge in Montreal. 11th International Conference on Structural Health Monitoring of Intelligent Infrastructure, Montreal, Canada. 

3.     Ozkan, I., Cusson, D., and Hiedra Cobo, J. (2022). Satellite Monitoring of Transportation Infrastructure – A Case Study at the Vancouver International Airport. Conference paper for the 11th International Conference on Structural Health Monitoring of Intelligent Infrastructure, Montreal, Canada. 

4.     Cusson, D., Ozkan, I., Hiedra Cobo, J., Greene Gondi, F., Oliver, P., and Stewart, H. (2022) Satellite Monitoring of Bridges Using Radar- & Optical-Band Images – Validation On Champlain Bridge In Montreal, Canada. 11th International Conference on Short and Medium Span Bridges - Toronto, ON, Canada.

5.     Hiedra Cobo, J. (2022) Climate Resilient Dams: Geotechnical Aspects. Presented at the Canadian Dam Association 2022 Annual Conference, St. John’s, NL

6.     Clayton, C.R.I., Hiedra Cobo, J.C. and Symons, I.F. (1987) Lateral pressures induced by compaction of clay backfill. Conference proceedings of the VIII Pan-American Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, Vol 2, 473 - 483. CPMSIF - PCSMFE Cartagena, Colombia.

Previous work experience

2015 - 2017 Geotechnical specialist at NALCOR (hydroelectrical company) in Newfoundland and Labrador. Developed the specialty durability test program for concrete anchors, led the establishment of a site laboratory for the North Spur site and led the site supervision for the roller compacted concrete dam. Also for NALCOR, reviewed the geotechnical design for the foundations of 3223 transmission towers for the 350 kV DC Transmission Line from Muskrat Falls to St. John’s.

2012 - 2015 Geotechnical specialist at Stantec in Newfoundland and Labrador, working on a variety of projects spanning from residential, educational, commercial, and industrial developments as well as mining projects including road/railway assessments and designs. Preparation and peer review/senior review of geotechnical site investigation reports; foundation design (deep and shallow foundations), slope stability analyses (stabilization of the phosphates slag pile tailings dams - Long Harbour, NL); and settlement analysis for mining and oil & gas projects.

International experience and/or work

2006 – 2012  : Senior Geotechnical and Transportation Engineer – Central America. In charge of feasibility and technical studies, highway design, project management and supervision of over 500 km of highways and roads in Central America: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, with ample experience in geotechnical studies for highways, pavement design, and capacity building for projects funded by the European Union, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank. Highly experienced in geotechnical studies for foundation design, as well as supervision, construction, and rehabilitation of highways in Central and South America including design of retaining structures, as well as feasibility and environmental studies.

2001 – 2005  : Senior Geotechnical Engineer and President of Estudios Geotecnicos, C.A. Acted as Geotechnical Consultant and Transportation expert for the execution of Engineering, Procurement and Construction Projects (EPC) such as highways, airports, railways, ports, dams, petrochemical and mining processing facilities, and transmission line projects. Projects included concrete structures, irrigation and flood control projects, river, and marine industrial ports as well as municipal environmental projects for rehabilitation of landfills and closures.

1999 – 2000  : President of the Venezuelan Railway estate company, and Principal Director of the Metro de Caracas.

1987 – 1998  : Geotechnical Engineer at various consulting engineering companies. Project Manager for large construction projects such as railways lines and metro systems. Project Manager for mining projects: extraction of coal, bauxite, and Bituminous Sands Belt in Venezuela. Supervisor and Quality Assurance consultant for mining tailing dams, mine access projects, expansion of iron ore facilities at Ferrominera, FIOR, SIVENSA, and SIDETUR, and processing plant by Venalum.

Juan Hiedra Cobo

Juan Hiedra Cobo

Associate Research Officer
Construction
1200 Montreal Road
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R6
Preferred language: English
Other(s): Spanish, French
Telephone: 613-991-6838

Expertise

Earth Sciences, Remote Sensing, Information Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Prediction, Sciences, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Cold Region Engineering, Transportation, Rail, Track maintenance planning, Road