New innovations in Civil Engineering – what can we expect from 2023?
Without a doubt, the development of new technology drives progression within Civil Engineering. Some innovations to date include Building Information Modelling (BIM), photovoltaic glaze (BIPV), Kinetic footfall and Self-healing Concrete.
Not familiar with these engineering advancements?
Read more below...
BIM is a way of doing things, an evolutionary shift in the industry and its work, rather than a piece of software.
According to the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICEP “BIM is the management of information through the whole life cycle of a built asset. It delivers value by underpinning the creation, collation and exchange of shared models and corresponding intelligent structured data.”[i]
So, what are the benefits brought by BIM?
Collaboration of people, processes, and information with technology
Offers one truth for all parties to share
Provides clarification – stating requirements for who presents data, and how they do so
Glazing integrated photovoltaic transforms the exterior of any building into a solar panel, generating electricity.
Polysolar is a company creating solar energy from windows. Their BIPV solutions include parking structures, cladding, forefront canopies, and transport hubs to name just a few.
Value – a marginal additional cost in the construction process
Multifunctional – a varied application
Environmental benefit – addresses the urgent need for new energy solutions[ii]
Pavegen, a UK-based company “on a mission to build a more sustainable world, one step at a time” specialises in tiled flooring, with a crucial difference.[iii] First installed in a Brixton flat, by founder Laurence Kemball-Cook, Pavegen’s patented technology has now been installed over 200 times, in 36 countries. The kinetic off-grid energy created by stepping on the tiles can be used to power anything from LED displays to gamification and more. It’s impact and potential are already being harnessed in busy walkways such as Heathrow Airport, Oxford Street and Chelsea Flower Show in the UK, while on a global scale Pavegen has been chosen by leading organisations such as Abu Dhabi International Airport and BNP Paribas. Notably, in 2018, Pavegen signed a Memorandum with global engineering giant Siemens, where both parties agreed to co-develop smart city projects. Hrag Sarkissian, Founding Partner of Tamar Capital, has highlighted the importance of Pavegen to Smart cities. Looking to the future, Pavegen is developing an ecosystem which will reward people for steps taken on Pavegen walkways. The commercial incentive here is evident, and The Mercury Mall in East London has already seen an increased engagement of 15% since Pavegen’s walkway was installed there.[iv]
A collaboration between the Polytechnic University of Milan and the Italian company Underground Power, Lybra is a tire-like paving technology developed to collect and convert kinetic energy into electricity.[v]
It’s no secret that the world of Civil Engineering, although irrefutably imperative, has contributed to global pollution. For example, cement, the material most widely used in construction projects, is to blame for approximately 7 percent of emissions worldwide.[vi]
The main cause of these emissions? Cracking during construction. Incredibly, Bath University are researching self-healing concrete, which makes use of microcapsules’ bacteria. Once the invention is finalised, the bacteria will germinate in contact with water, plugging any cracks with limestone before oxygen gets the chance to corrode reinforced steel.[vii]
Although the discussion of AI revolutionising Civil Engineering may seem a far-fetched to some, it is soon set to become common practise.
So, what is AI?
A highly simplified definition of AI might be:
“Informational technology that mimics human intelligence.”
For industry-innovators excited about the opportunities that AI presents for construction, AI implementation in the world of Civil Engineering cannot come fast enough.
Understandably, some are cautious… will AI pose a threat to Civil Engineering jobs?
The answer is simple: no.
Well, at least not for this generation.
Narrow AI looks to enhance and develop the ability of engineers by assisting with a narrow set of assigned tasks. As AI advances and becomes widespread, the role of a Civil Engineer will likely develop to utilise more systems, technology and achieve a better outcome, faster. AI looks to build efficiency and value, by multi-tasking, mitigating risks and progressing communication.
To build bespoke AI requires immense skill, vast development and data preparation. Therefore, being able to purchase pre-packaged AI models from leading construction firms makes AI technology more accessible to the wider industry. Permission for third-party vendors to connect systems reduces the difficulty of implementing AI. Increasingly, firms are becoming BIM-compliant, ready to embrace AI.
Get in touch with Unite People today to share your ideas, experiences, and ambitions of AI. We would love you to be involved in future content regarding AI in Civil Engineering. Or, to gain hands-on experience working within the highly innovative world of engineering, speak to our specialist recruitment consultants today!
[iv] Mike Butcher, “Pavegen, which harvests energy and data from footsteps, secures crowd and Hinduja Group funding,” TechCrunch, https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/27/pavegen-which-harvests-energy-and-data-from-footsteps-secures-crowd-and-hinduja-group-funding/?guce_referrer_us=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_cs=eNOVavtlbfWrxjLqMxGFnA&guccounter=2 27 Jun 2019.