Laing O’Rourke and The University of Cambridge have today announced the creation of a new multi-disciplinary academic centre of excellence to advance the engineering profession and leverage innovative thinking to benefit the construction industry.
I am excited by the potential of this new centre to develop novel solutions to the challenges of constructing a built environment that is sustainable whilst providing for the needs of society to supply energy, water, shelter, and a transport infrastructure on which economic well-being depends.Professor Dame Ann Dowling, Head of the Department of Engineering
The UK's largest privately-owned engineering enterprise, Laing O'Rourke, will fund the Laing O'Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology at Cambridge as part of their multi-million pound collaboration with the University.
An agreement signed today at Jesus College by Cambridge Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Alison Richard, and Laing O'Rourke Chairman and Chief Executive Ray O'Rourke (pictured) formally launched the new centre, which is set to play a leading role in shaping the future of the construction industry by responding to the environmental and sustainability challenges facing the planet.
The Centre will be a focus for innovative research and teaching, using the insights to help shape the built environment of the future in order to give as many people as possible access to the benefits of sustainable construction.
A new two-year part-time Masters degree in Construction Engineering will be launched in September 2011 by the Centre in the University's Department of Engineering, working with Judge Business School.
This course aims to advance the development of the construction sector through the translation of intellectual achievement into practical outcomes. It will produce engineers and managers who will lead the process of breaking down the traditional barriers between construction, consulting engineering and the client, pushing forward an agenda of innovation and technological advancement.
It will encompass the full spectrum of the industry value chain from the high-level financing requirements of major projects through to the latest innovations in analysis, design and materials technology, with a focus on sustainability and whole-life performance. The programme will be multidisciplinary aiming to embrace a broad range of sectors such as housing, buildings, transport, energy, water and waste.
The Centre, led by the new Laing O'Rourke Professor of Construction Engineering, will also deliver undergraduate education, PhD and post-doctoral research and Executive Education. A key goal is to raise the profile of the construction industry across the UK, attracting more young people to consider careers in this field and fast-tracking them through to senior management positions.
Ray O'Rourke said: "I believe the engineering and construction profession has reached a critical crossroads in its development - it has for too long relied on traditional skills and approaches, often failing to keep pace with the political, social and economic demands of modern society. It must once again attract the very best talent, apply radical thinking, embrace new technologies and innovate in a way that removes waste and inefficiency and creates the greatest value for the world's communities.
"Today's announcement is tangible evidence of the role Laing O'Rourke is committed to playing in this regard, and we are excited by the prospect of sharing our vision and forging an enduring relationship with Cambridge University, in line with our other educational partnerships."
Professor Dame Ann Dowling, Head of the Department of Engineering said: "The department's aim is to address the world's most pressing challenges through our teaching and research. I am excited by the potential of this new centre to develop novel solutions to the challenges of constructing a built environment that is sustainable whilst providing for the needs of society to supply energy, water, shelter, and a transport infrastructure on which economic well-being depends. I am grateful to Laing O'Rourke for their commitment and to Ray O'Rourke for his vision."
The Centre's inaugural Laing O'Rourke Distinguished Lecture will take place at the Department of Engineering in Cambridge on 25 November this year. The speaker will be Bill Baker, the Structural Engineering Partner for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP. Throughout his distinguished career, Bill has dedicated himself to structural innovation. His best known contribution has been to develop the "buttressed core" structural system for the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest structure.