New Graduate Courses in Waterpower

As the world strives for decarbonization, the energy supply is in transition, and waterpower is uniquely positioned 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 imperative for integrated water management in supporting flood mitigation, navigation, and recreation. There are exciting opportunities with new energy storage facilities and investment in small waterpower at the distribution level. The challenges with climate change and balancing water resources are many, but waterpower stations are 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 new curriculum focused on waterpower aims to prepare students for the unique challenges of this technology and growth opportunities in the industry, drawing on its long history and the many lessons learned, especially in the domain of sustainable development.

Industry support: The curriculum has been developed in partnership with the University of Toronto (UoT) and 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 program 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 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 in development, to which the following courses will be core.

CIVXXXX: Waterpower Essentials (NEW: Fall, 2021)

An overview of the waterpower industry, beginning with its historical development, how power stations work and their structural, mechanical and electrical components; followed by operation & maintenance; risk assessment; contract models; dam safety; policy, planning and partnerships; business models; and market participation. The course includes a site tour to a waterpower generating facility.


CIVXXXX: Renewal of Waterpower Facilities (NEW: Winter, 2022)
Prerequisite: Waterpower Essentials

Waterpower infrastructure is both aging 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.

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.


Pathways and Application Process

The waterpower courses are open to graduate-level students and non-degree students.

  1. Enroll in any course as a non-degree student. Up to two courses can be counted towards an MEng degree if you wish to enroll later. Learn more about how to apply for non-degree studies.
  2. Enroll in a Masters of Engineering. Learn more about how to apply for an MEng.

Note: The deadline for applications for the waterpower courses as a degree or non-degree student is December 6, 2021. To be granted this extension, please contact Alison Morley ( and indicate your intention to apply. Alison can also respond to any further inquiries about the application process.  Applications for both degree and non-degree studies require contact information for two referees, a statement of intent, a CV,  academic transcripts, and completion of the online application through the School of Graduate Studies. Don’t delay!

For further inquiries about the waterpower courses, contact Sharon Mandair,