Associate Professor, leader of Steel and Timber Structures research group
Research within Steel and Timber Structures is currently focused on two areas, the first of which is FRP/composite materials for building structures. These are used both for the reinforcement and repair of existing structures and in the construction of new bridges made entirely from composite materials. The second research area is steel structures with applications in advanced assessment methods and innovative bridge elements and production methods.
- Much of the research that's being done nationally around steel and FRP is being conducted here at Chalmers, and we have a strong research team, at international level too.
With composite materials, it's all about optimising the material and obtaining structural benefits and benefits in terms of construction planning, as the FRP materials after production can be transported and lifted into place leading to faster build times with less noise and emissions, fewer machines and smaller sites. Composite materials can be customised to a far greater extent than conventional materials and are cost-effective in terms of life cycle costs.
- The freedom that comes with composite materials, for example being able to create architectonically very interesting structures, requires a holistic approach to address the needs in terms of production, choice of materials, dimensioning and lifespan factors. We're currently working on a major project in this field which involves 15 different partners.
In the field of steel structures, our researchers are looking at advanced methods of assessment which enable structures to be used beyond their theoretical lifespan. One major project that Mohammad and his colleagues are working on involves a brand new innovative concept: steel as a ”sandwich element” for use in different situations where there is a need to maximise rigidity and ensure carefully controlled industrial production.
Link between research and teaching
We offer bachelor's and master's courses and a doctoral course within the Graduate School. The focus areas are fatigue dimensioning and stability in steel structures.
- Traditionally, we've done a lot of work in these areas, so we're very strong on them. And this impacts on our programmes, in that, in principle, we review our courses and course material every year.
The programmes are strongly influenced by research. New knowledge around modelling, approaches and behaviour which result directly from research projects are incorporated into teaching though exercises and experiments. A crossover point where research and teaching meet are degree projects, which in principle are always linked to ongoing research projects.
The year in review and the future
- The most important thing that happened in 2015 was the major collaboration projects that started with excellent partners within industry and research institutions. A key factor was the upgrading of the lab, which took place in 2015. As far as the research group itself is concerned, a high point was Valbona Mara being awarded her doctorate, and, more generally, the fact that the group continued to grow with grants which enabled us to take on three new doctoral students and a new assistant professor.
Mohammad says that, compared with developments in other sectors, not much has happened in terms of applications for structural engineering over the past fifty years.
- What we need to do now, in both steel and FRP, is to develop new concepts, innovations and structures which will meet the challenges being faced by customers and society. It's really important in terms of development that we are a match for the challenges that society is facing.