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A Rewarding and Productive Event: International Workshop on Engineering for Extremes 2014

08 December 2014

Attendees at the International Workshop on Engineering for Extremes 2014.

The Department of Civil Engineering was proud to run the International Workshop on Engineering for Extremes (IWEE) on 17 and 18 November 2014.

Held in the New Horizons building at Monash University, the event gave eminent researchers the opportunity to collaborate and share ideas – and to set a research agenda for 2015 and beyond.

Attended by over 60 delegates, the workshop welcomed academic researchers from many national and international universities. 

Australian universities represented included Monash University, University of New South Wales, University of Newcastle, Queensland University of Technology and Swinburne University of Technology. Overseas universities represented included Imperial College (UK), ETH Zurich (Switzerland), Georgia Institute of Technology (USA), University of Maryland (USA), Delft University of Technology (Netherlands), University of Corsica (France) and Kyushu University (Japan).

The workshop also welcomed researchers from several industry organisations including Arup, Ten Cate Geosynthetics Group, CSIRO, Geoscience of Australia and Bureau of Meteorology.

In his welcome address, the Dean of Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of IT, Professor Frieder Seible, acknowledged the wide scope of engineering for extreme research. With over 30 years’ experience in engineering for extremes research, Professor Seibel also delivered an interesting technical talk on ‘Earthquakes’.

Throughout the two-day event, delegates enjoyed many more thought-provoking presentations and discussions. Sessions explored important research themes within the engineering for extremes domain, including:

the design of buildings against extreme loading such as impact and blast, fire, earthquake and tsunami

performance of travel demand management during mega events and evacuation planning during panic situations

improved flood forecast prediction and mitigation, fire spread prediction, and utilisation of geosynthetics to mitigate natural disaster impacts.

Devastation of infrastructure resulting from wind, flood and fire are becoming commonplace in south-eastern Australia - costing a significant number of lives and millions of dollars in repair every year,’ said Professor Jeff Walker, Head of Civil Engineering. ‘We therefore need to develop cost-effective methods to retrofit existing infrastructure, as well as codes for new infrastructure, to ensure such losses do not continue to occur.’ 

All speakers presented three key questions to be addressed over the next decade. And audience members were encouraged to propose fundamental directions in each research area. Key questions, ideas and insights were then shared and explored at the stimulating ‘Brainstorming Session’ on the second day of the event.    

Feedback from delegates was unanimously positive. According to Professor Mario Fontana from ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, ‘the workshop was well organised and very constructive.’

Professor David Nethercot from Imperial College in the UK agrees. ‘The workshop was an enjoyable, rewarding and productive event. Upon reflection, I am confident that many important messages and lessons will emerge and I am committed to helping to turn many of the key ideas into tangible projects.’ 

According to Dr Jean-Baptiste Filippi from University of Corsica in France, ‘One of the most interesting aspects of the workshop was realising the similarities in approaches. For example, engineering for wildfire and fire uses the same tools as engineering for forecasting floods. These similarities suggest strong potential for achieving our ultimate goal: more integrated, multi-risk engineering solutions for improved efficiency in safety.’ 

Mr William Thickett from Arup was also impressed. ‘The workshop was interesting and thought-provoking. The speakers all displayed an in-depth knowledge of their discipline – leading to many healthy debates about the future of engineering for extremes research,’ said Mr Thickett.

For more information about engineering for extremes research at Monash University, please visit the Engineering for Extremes Research webpage or contact:

Dr Amin Heidarpour

Engineering for Extremes Coordinator

Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University

Phone: +61 3 99024435