Engineering breakthrough recognised by Portuguese president

30 Apr 2019

A civil engineering team from The University of Queensland, led by Associate Professor Dilum Fernando, has been recognised for their outstanding innovative work by the President of the Portuguese Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in the city of Guimarães.

The team won the inaugural World Innovation in Bridge Engineering (WIBE) award for their innovative hybrid fiberglass-concrete-steel bridge construction technique that can reduce major urban bridgeworks projects from months or even years to just three days, set to save time, money and inconvenience worldwide.

Associate Professor Fernando said their “Novel bridge system for durable, low-cost and rapid construction” was a third of the weight of anything currently available, as well as stronger and faster to put up.

“The bridge design used a double-skin tubular arch system,” he said.

“It is three times as strong as conventional reinforced concrete bridges, yet only a third of the weight,” he said.

“Because it’s light, the bridge can be pre-fabricated and transported to site where it can be put up in about 72 hours.

"This means projects that previously caused up to six months of disruption can now be completed in just three days.

"The $50,000 award recognises our design as a game-changer, coming in ahead of designs involving more than 200 authors from 50 countries.

"It was amazing to attend the BERD-FEUP WIBE award ceremony in beautiful city of Guimarães and it was truly an honour to receive this award from the President of the Portuguese Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

"We are happy that our innovation has received such recognition, but this is only the first step.

"Next step is to see this technology being used worldwide."

The Head of the School of Civil Engineering Professor Simon Washington said it was extremely rewarding to see UQ’s researchers recognised internationally for their outstanding achievements.

“At UQ we foster a community that encourages and values innovation, and we’re lucky to have talented academics like Dilum and his team driving this culture forward,” Professor Washington said.

The WIBE Prize was sponsored by the Faculty of Engineering at The University of Porto in Portugal, and BERD, a project, research and engineering firm specialising in bridges.