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University academic to help build damage-resistant bridges

University academic to help Opus design and build damage-resistant bridges

May 11, 2014

A University of Canterbury bridge engineer will join one of New Zealand’s leading consultancy companies Opus to help in their new technology bridge building projects, the first arrangement of its kind ever undertaken in New Zealand.

Dr Alessandro Palermo will be seconded to Opus for six months from September to work on New Zealand projects where low-damage technology and innovative materials may be applied.

He will be offering his research knowledge and experience relating to areas such as post-tensioned rocking bridge piers, innovative cost-effective dampers, new materials such as high strength concrete and glass reinforcing bars.

Dr Palermo is currently supporting the Opus design team on a bridge construction project in Christchurch.

"I hope to bring a different way of looking at problems to innovate bridge designs. My experience on low-damage solutions combined with the experience of Opus team in bridge design will help both parties.

"On the other side, by working with Opus I will make my future research more cost-effective then just structural advanced. I see my future teaching enriched by real practical stories and examples which will and inject passion into my students in the world of bridges.

"Opus will get benefits by being updated on recent research. The constant interaction with the team will also help to improve the solutions tested and researched at the University of Canterbury, where we are ranked 19th in the world in civil and structural engineering.

"After six months at Opus, I believe I will be better equipped for teaching engineering undergraduates and postgraduates. At intermediate level and first professional year of civil engineering, I can use this work experience for explaining the real world day to day issues that an engineer has to face.

"This type of academic engineering secondment arrangement has never been done with this industry before. It has been built on a common and ambitious intent from both parties which is to design the world’s first damage-resistant bridge with rocking technology.

Opus Bridging Leader Peter Wiles says Dr Palermo will work on numerous projects to gain a greater understanding of the role of a consulting engineer.

"Alessandro will be considered a national resource within Opus and will work on projects around the country based on where he can add the most value. Essentially he could be designing bridges anywhere in the world depending on which projects we secure and where he can add the most value.

"Having his skills, passion and knowledge added to the team can only strengthen our ability to innovate. Also from his background as a lecturer Alessandro will aid the development of our engineers. This is a win-win for both parties," Wiles says.


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