The training of highly qualified personnel (HQP) is central to FloodNet with over 72% of its budget allocated to HQP. The Network’s aims of increasing Canada’s knowledge and experience on flood impacts and management through carefully designed projects will not only produce much needed scientific and technical outcomes but also boost the number of HQP in hydrology and water resources. In that sense, the excellence of the training proposed by FloodNet resides in the pertinence of the projects, in their innovative qualities, in the leadership of internationally respected researchers that collaborate toward a common goal, and in many and diverse partner organisations that bring to the Network their expertise and a large dose of realism. Numerous hand-picked students and PDFs will thus have the opportunity to learn, grow, and gain valuable experience within a unique framework, unprecedented in Canada.

A multidisciplinary perspective on floods

A fundamental strength of the proposed FloodNet is the broad participation in the research of key scientists/experts from academia, federal and provincial agencies, and many private sector organizations. This offers a unique opportunity for enhancing highly qualified personnel (HQP) training by taking advantage of the multidisciplinary and multisectoral environment. Given that the goal of FloodNet is to develop new knowledge and technology to enhance the capacity for the management and forecasting of floods in Canada, a core component of FloodNet is the multidisciplinary training of the HQP. The future generation of flood forecasters and flood managers must be well-educated and highly qualified to confront the complexities of future flood events in an increasingly changing environment. The FloodNet research program will use cutting-edge information processing technology (e.g., real-time sequential data filtering and assimilation algorithms), advanced system modelling techniques (e.g., probabilistic ensemble prediction, hierarchical Bayesian learning, distributed modelling), and emerging wireless network communication technology to develop a new generation of flood forecasting system. Therefore, the HQP will be exposed to emergent technology and techniques, and will be at the forefront of research in the field. Advanced data mining and dynamic nonlinear system analysis methods will be investigated to improve our fundamental understanding of flood processes across Canada. HQP involved in those integrative studies will benefit from working with a team of experts and experienced operational hydrologists, which is the ideal research environment for such complex topics.

Research exchanges between university laboratories

The research within FloodNet is interdisciplinary with much collaboration embedded in the highly qualified personnel (HQP) training plan. Collaboration between the many researchers involved in FloodNet will help HQP attain their individual goals. HQP in the network will typically develop independent scientific research but will do so in the context of FloodNet’s objectives and in collaboration with other investigators and collaborators from supporting organizations (see below). All research projects are built around a lead scientist but the inclusion of several collaborators from partner universities and supporting organisations will benefit HQP tremendously. HQP will be able to visit and work with partner university laboratories, enhancing scientific outcomes and the quality of their training. Each university and organisation possesses specific skills and tools (models, databases, analysis methods, computer facilities, and more) that will thus be shared to the benefit of the whole Network. For example, McMaster has a vast understanding of hydro-informatics that will be shared with others, while the environmental experience of Trent University will influence the whole team. We thus anticipate that the majority of HQP will directly benefit from multidisciplinary training through exchanges between different academic laboratories.

Partners have committed to participate in HQP training and to co-supervise HQP where applicable. The HQP will thus gain hands-on/practical experience through the opportunities to work directly with public and/or private partners of FloodNet. For example, a student with interest in the management of water resources will typically have a greater management and policy-oriented emphasis to their work and be coupled with a collaborator from a government agency. Where applicable, HQP will also be coupled with private sector partners to allow them to gain industrial research experience. As a result,  they will not only have a better understanding of the needs and issues facing flood forecasters, water resources managers, and policy/decision makers in Canada, but will also have practical skills in real-world problem solving (e.g., hydropower companies) that are highly needed in the job market. 

FloodNet investigators and partner organisations will also, whenever possible, employ undergraduate students as final-year, summer, and co-op students. These programs are an excellent way of introducing students to an industrial work environment and stimulating their interest in pursuing research careers. It will also increase the HQP impact of the Network. 

Relevant Experience

There is an urgent demand for highly skilled graduates trained in water resources with expertise in hydrometeorological modelling, water management, valuation of ecosystem services, and decision-making under uncertainty. In addition to being trained by leading scientists in these fields, highly qualified personnel (HQPs) will be given the opportunity to work on practical water resources problems alongside specialists from the main agencies responsible for hydropower management, policy making, environmental prediction, and weather forecasting. HQP will also have the opportunity to present their results to these specialists and to the scientific community at large.