Civil Engineers and Innovation

Civil Engineers are key to innovation in the industry and in turn improving our society, as discussed by Alexandra Meldrum (President, Engineers Australia, Sydney Division) in August 2014 (Meldrum, 2014). Meldrum describes innovation stating “Innovation generally refers to changing or creating more effective processes, products and ideas” (Meldrum, 2014). She further highlights why innovation is important stating “Innovation is a key driver of productivity and wellbeing. By improving our innovation performance, Australia can increase living standards and quality of life” (Meldrum, 2014).

Engineers have provided some great innovations lately, including:

  • 3D Printing: “3D refers to any manufacturing process which additively builds or forms 3D parts in layers from CAD data. The technology is significant because it offers direct manufacturing, meaning a design goes directly from you to physical product through a computer and a printer” (Stratesys Direct Manufacturing, 2015).

  • Robotics in Mining: “Mining robots can vary from robots that assist in excavation, to robotic devices with camera systems that detect gases and other materials. Most importantly, mining robots can be used to keep humans out of harm’s way. This is essential when scanning abandoned mines and other mining grounds that are not safe for people” (Superdroid Robots, 2015).

  • Driverless Technology in Vehicles: From cruise control to experimental fully self-driving vehicles, Business Insider’s article provides a good insight into the driverless technology innovation (Business Insider, 2016).

  • Energy Storage Systems: “Energy storage has been labelled the next big disruption technology, changing the way the electricity grid can be used. New battery technologies are at the fore front of reduction of costs and improvements in capacity” (Engineers Australia, 2016).

  • Airport Pavement Modernisation: “Airport pavement expert Dr Greg White has come up with a program of development and implementation for the modernisation of airport pavement engineering to overcome challenges faced by Australia airports, such as changes in bitumen and the introduction of more demanding aircraft” (Engineers Australia, 2016 (1)).

  • Smart Recycling: “Professor Veena Sahajwalla has been focusing on turning waster glass and plastic from cars into value-added material. She says that ‘mining’ rubbish dumps and landfills, you can access ‘ores’ of various materials more concentrated than in greenfield mine sites”  (Engineers Australia, 2016 (2)).

JC Engineers’ Director, Brendan Nielsen is currently undertaking innovative research with the University of Southern Queensland to develop a resilience index for small-road structures in the wake of large scale flood events. Brendan says “after the 2011 Queensland floods, there were many sceptics on the allocation of reconstruction funding”. Brendan mentions “the resilience index considers the vulnerability of the road structure before the flood event as well as the surrounding community’s reliance on the road structure for accessibility, economic and emergency supplies. This then allows reconstruction authorities to quantitatively list each effected area”. Brendan hopes this resilience index can assist reconstruction authorities allocate necessary funding to the communities that need it most.

If you, or someone you know, are considering research into innovation in your area, JC Engineers would like to hear from you.

Phone: (07) 3387 0137 Email: info@jce.engineering

References

Business Insider, 2016. Here's all of the self-driving tech companies are currently using on their cars. [Online]
Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/driverless-technology-in-cars-2016-9/?r=AU&IR=T/#adaptive-cruise-control-1
[Accessed 12 January 2017].

Engineers Australia, 2016 (1). Academia & Research: Dr Greg White. [Online]
Available at: http://innovativeengineers.com.au/academia-research/dr-greg-white
[Accessed 12 January 2017].

Engineers Australia, 2016 (2). Academia & Research: Professor Veena Sahajwalla. [Online]
Available at: http://innovativeengineers.com.au/academia-research/professor-veena-sahajwalla
[Accessed 12 January 2017].

Engineers Australia, 2016. Transport & Infrastructure: 2016. [Online]
Available at: https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/sydney-southern-highlands-and-tablelands-regional-group/transport-infrastructure-2016
[Accessed 12 January 2017].

Meldrum, A., 2014. Engineers play a critical role in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. [Online]
Available at: https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/news/engineers-play-critical-role-innovation-and-entrepreneurship
[Accessed 12 January 2017].

Stratesys Direct Manufacturing, 2015. What is 3D Printing?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.stratasysdirect.com/resources/what-is-3d-printing/
[Accessed 12 January 2017].

Superdroid Robots, 2015. Mining Robots. [Online]
Available at: http://www.superdroidrobots.com/shop/custom.aspx/mining-robots/65/
[Accessed 12 January 2017].

 

Brendan Nielsen