The First Middle East Conference on Smart Monitoring, Assessment and Rehabilitation of Civil Structures (SMAR 2011) took place recently at the American University in Dubai (AUD). The conference was jointly organized by AUD and EMPA- Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Testing and Technology.
The conference venue was AUD’s campus, which welcomed around 300 scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and construction specialists. They discussed current developments and trends in the fields of structural health monitoring and rehabilitation of structures.
They also had the opportunity to line up new international partnerships. Specialists from 30 countries combined theory and practice and presented approximately 170 research papers. Alongside the conference, there was a trade fair featuring local and international businesses.
The Conference’s Chairman, Dr. Masoud Motavalli from EMPA, highlighted that, “Dubai not only holds the record for the tallest building, it also has many unusually designed buildings with unique dimensions. This gives experts the chance to collate knowledge and to use the Emirates as a kind of research laboratory. EMPA brought a wealth of experience relating to various modern technologies to the conference. A number of presentations looked at the retrofitting of buildings with CFRPs (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymers), composites of CFRP and concrete, pre-tensioning of reinforcement and structural monitoring of buildings using wireless networks of sensors. EMPA has been working in all these areas for some time already.”
On the importance of organizing SMAR 2011 at AUD, Dr. Elias Saqan, Chair and Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at AUD, and Chair of the SMAR 2011’s Local Organization Committee (LOC), indicated, “The conference served as a platform for researchers and engineers from more than 30 countries to exchange findings and to explore new ideas in the areas of structural health monitoring and rehabilitation of structures. Dubai is the ideal place for this conference because of the unprecedented need here to continuously monitor and assess the performance of the world’s most unusual structures.”
Commenting on the organization of such an event he added, “We are very glad to organize the conference with EMPA and to have paved the way for continued research cooperation between AUD and EMPA. Having the conference on the AUD campus was also an edifying experience to our students who attended the conference’s technical sessions and assisted in their organization.”
The conference opening ceremony was attended by the Swiss Ambassador, H.E. Wolfgang Amadeus Bruelhart, who spoke on the “Emirati-Swiss Friendship Platform,” and by the Swiss Consul General in Dubai, Mr. Walter Deplazes. The Ambassador’s speech was followed by welcoming remarks by the Provost of the American University in Dubai, Dr. Jihad Nader.
The first keynote presentation was given by Mr. Ahmad Abderazaq, the Executive Vice President and Head of High-rise and Complex Building Division at Samsung C&T Corporation, who was involved since the early stages of the design of the Burj Khalifa during his tenure at Skidmore Owings & Merrill, a civil engineering consulting firm in Chicago, as well as during the construction of the Burj. Mr. Abderazaq shared his experience with regard to the construction and operation of the skyscraper. He explained how architects and builders had to meet considerable challenges in the project. He emphasized that permanent monitoring of such buildings is imperative. The conference also featured five other keynote presentations by well known international researchers in the fields of structural health monitoring and rehabilitation of structures.
One hundred and forty SMAR 2011 participants attended a post-conference tour of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building which stands at a towering height of 828 meters. During the conference, novel materials and innovative techniques for monitoring and assessment of structures were introduced by international companies which exhibited their products during the three days of the conference.