Cambridge reseaches smart infrastructure Dec 2010
Cambridge University New Release
- A £17 million (US$26.4 million) grant to Cambridge University in the UK is set to initiate radical changes in the construction and management of infrastructure. Application of the most up-to-date developments in intelligent sensing and information processing will provide for cradle-to-grave monitoring of infrastructure and the opportunity to develop more efficient and economic methods of management and construction.
- Funded through a £10 million government grant from the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Technology Strategy Board, and with £7 million in contributions from industry, the research on 'Smart Infrastructure and Construction' will be conducted through an Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) based in the University's Department of Engineering.
New sensors monitoring the London Underground
- Professor Robert Mair as Principal Investigator of the grant explained the initiative for the research. "Much of our national infrastructure is more than 100 years old. Resilience against systemic failure of that infrastructure is weakened significantly through ageing. Infrastructure owners therefore have a strong interest in emerging technologies in sensors and data management to quantify and define the extent of ageing and the consequent remaining design life of their infrastructure."
- "The IKC will focus on smarter construction and production processes, decision support, manufacturing strategy and reconfigurable building blocks," continued Professor Mair. "The aim is to transform the industry through a whole-life approach to achieving sustainability in construction and infrastructure, covering design and commissioning, the construction process, exploitation and use, and eventual decommissioning."
- The IKC will complement a second new research programme at Cambridge. The Laing O'Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology is a multi-disciplinary centre of excellence working to advance the engineering profession and leverage innovative thinking to benefit the construction industry.
- IKCs are centres of excellence with five years' funding to accelerate and promote business exploitation of an emerging research and technology field. A key feature is a shared space and entrepreneurial environment, in which researchers, potential customers and skilled professionals from both academia and business can work side-by-side to scope applications, business models and routes to market. The Smart Infrastructure and Construction programme will harness the full potential of combining business knowledge with the application of emerging technologies.
- TTalking about the two new centres, EPSRC's Chief Executive, Professor David Delpy, said: "Taking exciting research from the university laboratory to the commercial sector through close collaboration with user stakeholders is vital to ensuring the UK's economy continues to be innovative and globally competitive. EPSRC is strongly committed to supporting universities in commercialising their outstanding research and I applaud the innovative approach taken by the successful applicants, and all competing universities."
- The Technology Strategy Board's Chief Executive, Iain Gray, said: "These two new Innovation and Knowledge Centres are highly important for the UK and economic growth because they harness specialist academic knowledge and business expertise in areas where we have proven capabilities and we know that we can do well. By pooling know-how, capability, and expertise in one centre, the UK maximises the opportunity to innovate effectively and generate economic growth."
- As Principal Investigator of the grant, Professor Mair is joined by Professor Kenichi Soga of the Civil Engineering Division of the Department of Engineering in leading the Cambridge IKC on Smart Infrastructure and Construction. Professor Duncan McFarlane of the Department's Institute of Manufacturing (IfM) will also play a leading role and Dr Paul Heffernan of the IfM will be the full-time IKC Director. The IKC will bring together four leading research groups in the Cambridge Engineering Department and the Computer Laboratory, along with staff in the Judge Business School and the Department of Architecture.
Cambridge University Department of Engineering
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Technology Strategy Board
Laing O'Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology at Cambridge
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