Sustainable Engineering Student Research Internationally Recognized

Presenting innovative research on sustainable engineering and project management techniques in the construction field, undergraduate and graduate students at AUC were recognized at the 2014 Canadian Society for Civil Engineers (CSCE) conference for their distinctive contributions.

"At the closing ceremony, while there were many acknowledgments being made, the Egyptian group from AUC was the only one recognized among many international student groups," said Nour ELDeeb '14, a construction engineering major. "Feelings of pleasure and excitement hit our group, and that made me enthusiastic about continuing researching for new methods to help us live in a greener environment."

Undergraduate students presented research on diversified topics including mortar that can self-heal with bacteria and the use of cement that contains electronic waste, while a graduate student used genetic algorithms to discover ways to optimize multiskilled labor resources.

Mohamed Nagib Abou-Zeid, chair of the construction and architectural engineering department who served as the academic adviser for the student research and has participated in the CSCE conference for 13 years, pointed out that this year, a record number of AUC students was invited to participate and that they were the only students called to the stage by the head of the organization to receive a special recognition for their “strong participation.” “I was extremely pleased and proud to see how masterful our students were up to the occasion and got themselves involved in fruitful discussions,” Abou-Zeid said. “They were true ambassadors of Egypt and AUC.”

The students, according to Nagib, tackled topics that would have potential impact in the construction industry and the profession at large. “The topics presented were all innovative and included self-healing materials for buildings when damaged, the use of electronic waste in structures, high-performance ductile buildings, more environmentally friendly cement and the impact of skilled labor on construction projects,” Abou-Zeid explained.

The students hoped to contribute to sustainable practices in the engineering field through their research. "Being a construction engineering major and knowing that such an industry contributes to various environmental problems, I decided, along with my group, to devote our research to environmentally friendly cement that will reduce both the carbon dioxide emissions and the energy consumption during the cement manufacturing process, especially that one of the major problems in the Egyptian industry is energy supply and optimization of use," said ELDeeb. "It was a great opportunity to participate in the CSCE conference, as I got to network and share knowledge with multinational visionary leaders in the industry and fellow students, and -- most importantly -- have our work recognized."

Amr Mostafa Fathy, a construction engineering graduate student, explained the potential impact of their work. “Breakthrough innovations related to concrete materials and optimization models were presented at the conference with a good defense, so industry applicators may use our research in developing cost-effective and innovative solutions for engineering problems,” Fathy said. “Researchers may also build on what we have done. ... It was such an honor to be a part of this prestigious conference, let along be acknowledged for our work."

Sharing the same viewpoint, Ibrahim Abotaleb, a construction engineering graduate student at AUC who used genetic algorithms to discover ways to optimize multiskilled labor resources, noted, "I did not realize how good our construction engineering program is until I participated in the conference and discovered that our work is not of less importance or quality than the rest of the top-ranked universities worldwide. Such an acknowledgement made me more proud of our construction engineering department and its ability to produce competitive and distinctive research work. Recognizing us this way made us more enthusiastic and passionate to be involved in future research work."

For Fatma Beder '14, a construction engineering major, "the conference was a fruitful opportunity to engage in high-level discussions with civil engineers of different specializations, and be exposed to the most recent research innovations," she said. "Our research helped me connect with students of similar interests, which expanded my horizons on interesting research topics for the future."

Photo caption: AUC students at the Canadian Society for Civil Engineers conference, with their faculty adviser Mohamed Abou-Zeid (fourth from right)