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HRH The Duke of York visits the National Research Facility for Infrastructure Sensing

HRH The Duke of York visits the National Research Facility for Infrastructure Sensing

The Department of Engineering welcomed His Royal Highness The Duke of York, KG, when he visited the National Research Facility for Infrastructure Sensing (NRFIS) at the new Civil Engineering Building, on the West Site of the University of Cambridge.

The UK needs to invest in infrastructure and its associated services which are so important to the people using it every day. We welcome HRH to NRFIS and the new Civil Engineering Building which will host collaboration between industry and researchers to improve, protect and grow the UK infrastructure base.

Professor Lord Robert Mair

The Duke of York supports a number of science and technology organisations, including being a Patron of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). HRH promotes and raises awareness of British science, technology and engineering expertise, engaging with organisations to support initiatives which attract increased investment into UK science, technology and engineering.

During his visit to the NRFIS last week (29 October), HRH was welcomed by Professor Lord Robert Mair, Head of the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC), Professor John Dennis, Head of the School of Technology, Dr Shui Lam, Secretary of the School of Technology, Professor Richard Prager, Head of the Department of Engineering, Professor Simon Guest, Head of Civil Engineering, and Professor Giulia Viggiani, NRFIS Academic Lead.

Professor Lord Mair said: “We are delighted to welcome The Duke of York to the National Research Facility for Infrastructure Sensing. Housed in the new Civil Engineering Building, and part of the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) portfolio of collaborative research and innovation facilities, NRFIS marks a significant step in enabling the UK to design, build and maintain infrastructure which is more resilient, adaptable and sustainable. NRFIS is a resource where academia and industry can engage in research to optimise the country’s infrastructure base and support the UK to be a leader in the field of smart infrastructure.

“The UK needs to invest in infrastructure and its associated services which are so important to the people using it every day. We welcome HRH to NRFIS and the new Civil Engineering Building which will host collaboration between industry and researchers to improve, protect and grow the UK infrastructure base.”

HRH watches a demonstration

During his tour of the new NRFIS facilities which focus on the research and application of advanced sensor technologies to optimise the design, construction, and maintenance of the UK's existing and future infrastructure, HRH met a number of academics and researchers who presented a range of innovative research projects and deployments.

Dr Pieter Desnerck, Senior Technical Manager of NRFIS, and Dr Nicky de Battista, Research Associate at the CSIC, gave an introduction to the ‘strong floor’ and presented the instrumentation of the new Civil Engineering Building, which is instrumented with six sensor packages from the roof to the foundations. Monitoring the performance of the new research facility enables researchers to assess this performance against the predictions made during design. Professor Janet Lees introduced HRH to the Structures laboratory and current research including demonstration of concrete elements that mitigate CO2 emissions.

Dr Sam Stanier showed the capabilities of the Geomechanics laboratory before HRH visited the CSIC laboratory where Dee Dee Frawley, CSIC Programme Manager, Paul Fidler, CSIC Computer Associate and Dr Xiaomin Xu, CSIC Research Associate, presented an award-winning rockfall warning system using fibre optic technology. Professor Campbell Middleton, Director of the Laing O’Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology, and Dr Ioannis Brilakis, Director of the Construction Information Technology Laboratory, spoke about the drive to digitise infrastructure and demonstrated a range of technologies including digital twin virtual reality.

The visit concluded with three fast-paced and visual presentations: Sakthy Selvakumaran, Researcher at the Laing O’Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology, presented her research on the satellite monitoring of infrastructure; Dr Timea Nochta, CSIC Research Associate, presented the Smart City Project developing a city-level digital twin; and Ioanna Papanikolaou, a Future Infrastructure and Built Environment (FIBE) PhD researcher presented on nature-inspired infrastructure.

Commending The Duke of York for his interest in and visit to NRFIS, Professor Lord Mair said: “As an ambassador for technology and engineering, His Royal Highness appreciates the significant opportunities offered by advancements in digital technologies. As we face global challenges, including climate change, population growth and rapid urbanisation, it is the work of civil engineers which will provide solutions to these challenges helping to change the lives of millions of people for the better.”

HRH was accompanied by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Mrs Julie Spence OBE QPM, and Lord-Lieutenant’s Cadets, Cadet SSgt Eleanor Phipps and Leading Cadet Matthew Smith, and presented to Councillor Mac McGuire, Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council, and Councillor Gerri Bird, Mayor of Cambridge. 

This article first appeared on the NRFIS website.

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