I’m fortunate that my job allows me the time to be creative, and time to teach. I mentor a dozen young engineers and geoscientists, I write a few technical papers or articles each year, often with clients and our staff and other consultants, I’m an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta where I help a different crowd of graduate students. And to further get the message out, I’m working on a new book, Sustainable Mining NOW, with my colleague Rob Abbott.


Professor Gord McKenna lectures to groups large and small

Professor Gord McKenna, Belo Horizonte, Brazil 2014


At BGC Engineering we only hire the best people, most of them fairly young in their careers. I’m fortunate to mentor a dozen or so in the early parts of their careers as we work on various investigation, design, construction and research projects in various geotechnical and landform projects for the mining industry.


Short courses

One of my favourite ways to teach is through shortcourses, offered either internally to BGC, for mine staff out in their offices or mine sites, and through conferences.  I’ve put on over a dozen over the years. My focus is on teaching students the basics of landform design, tailings, sustainable mining, and giving the confidence and the imperitive to go out and practice at their own sites.

I’d really like to provide a short course for your group or have you attend one of my upcoming conference short courses.

Available short courses


Students work in groups of 3 or 4 to do an actual landform design for an actual mining landform during their one day course.

Students work in groups of 3 or 4 to do an actual landform design for an actual mining landform during their one day course.


I’m a newly mined adjunct professor at the University of Alberta Department of Renewable Resources working with Professor Anne Naeth. My focus is helping students in the mine reclamation program, particularly in the Land Reclamation International Grad School (LRIGS). I provide a few lectures every year, sit one the mangement board, and work one on one and with students in small groups. Prior to that, I was an adjunct professor at the University of Saskatchewan College of Engineering working with Professor Lee Barbour. I also provide a landform design lecture at BCIT and UBC each year to their undergrads.

It is good to stay connected with universities, support their hardworking professors and staff, and help the next generation of bright students. My goal is the promotion of good landform design, so that reclaimed landscapes can better meet the needs of society and the mining companies.


Instrumented watersheds for reclamation research

Much of my work also involves working on instrumented watersheds for reclamation research. I’ve been involved with a half dozen such watersheds, typically 10 to 50 hectares, building them from the ground up, and learning their mechanisms and evolution over 5 to 20 years. At any given time, each watershed has a few PhD and a half dozen MSc students and their professors. Set up properly, these watersheds provide timely answers for landform design and mine reclamation, train the next generation, and enhance the fields of science and engineering. They are not for the faint of heart —  they require several full time scientists or engineers to manage, and cost $2m to $10m per year. Learnings are generally worth 100x the investment. Much of the work centres around a watershed water balance.

You need to learn a lot from the lab, from modelling, from small plots, but most of the big questions are answered by a combination of these activities with the flagship of a real world mining watershed. Let me teach you how to do this.



I’ve written two theses — an undergraduate thesis identifying flowslides on the Fraser River delta front near Vancouver and a PhD thesis developing the new discipline of landscape engineering (which I’ve since renamed landform design to attract more interest among non-engineers who tend to outnumber the engineers involved 5:1).

There is a page of this website dedicated to each thesis, and a place you can download your copy.


Articles and papers

Encouraged by an insightful professor during my undergraduate days at UBC, I have endeavored to write at least two technical articles or papers each year. Please check out my list of publications with links to pdf files.


 Sustainable Mining Now

Watch for — Sustainable Mining Now, a new book I’m writing with Rob Abbott.

Sustainable Mining Now Book cover

Sustainable Mining Now Book (in progress)


A quiet breakfast and a chance to write in Margaret River, Australia (2007)

A quiet breakfast on the beach and a chance to write in Margaret River, Australia (2007)