Callum White, a fourth year ‘MEng Civil Engineering with Industrial Experience’ student from the School of Engineering has recently related his final year research project to the Guardian newspaper in an article featured during Concrete Week.

The Guardian article discussed how concrete, as the world’s most used material after water, may damage the environment in terms of carbon emissions. Projects such as large concrete dams also see an increasing relationship with political systems and the wider community.

In response to the article Callum commented, “I am proud to say I am contributing to change by researching the use of practical FRP-RC rehabilitation techniques for ageing concrete infrastructure. Promoting reuse rather than demolition, through the use of innovative repair and strengthening methods, we can hopefully lessen our impact on the environment in the near future.”  Callum first developed his passion for engineering through the influence and role model, his father, who worked as a Site Manager on local building projects. He studied Maths, History, Music and Physics at A Level and chose the University of Birmingham to study his undergraduate degree after visiting the School of Engineering and seeing the ground breaking research that takes place at the School. Callum explained “it is exciting to play a part in the thriving research taking place at the University of Birmingham, particularly having the opportunity to contribute to issues that are discussed on a national level.”

Callum’s research dissertation is entitled ‘Size Effect in Shear Strengthened Reinforced Concrete Beams’ which is part of a wider theme surrounding concrete rehabilitation carried out at the University. Put simply, buildings and other concrete infrastructure such as bridges become unfit for use over time due to deterioration or requirement changes, for example; a building such as a school can be reused as corporate offices. Instead of demolition, it is possible to bring concrete infrastructure back to a better use utilising the research carried out at the University of Birmingham.  The actual strengthening system is called the Deep Embedment technique and was first developed at the University of Bath. Callum’s research aims to further develop the Deep Embedment technique, analysing its use through a number of tests. By building and testing concrete beams in the School of Engineering laboratories, Callum is able to assess whether beam size impacts on the effectiveness of the Deep Embedment technique.

Callum’s Supervisor, Dr Samir Dirar who is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Structural Engineering and Programme Director for the MSc in Structural Engineering course commented “For the very reasons mentioned in The Guardian’s article, we are helping to reduce and minimise the carbon footprint of concrete. In particular, we are doing research which looks at engineering novel, low impact concretes and extending the lifetime of existing concrete infrastructure. Callum’s work is part of an international project funded by UK-India Education and Research Initiative. The project investigates the use of advanced composite materials for enhancing the sustainability and resilience of existing concrete bridges. It also complements an earlier project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.”

Samir works closely with leading research groups in the UK, USA, Canada, India and elsewhere. He has led and/or successfully delivered research projects funded by EPSRC, Horizon 2020, the UK Construction Industry, the British Council and overseas funders.  Read further about about Samir’s research.