New Construction Engineering Centre is announced

New Construction Engineering Centre is announced

On Monday, 24th January 2011 at the Divinity School in Oxford, Laing O’Rourke and the University of Oxford announced the establishment of a new centre for engineering focusing on interdisciplinary research relevant to the construction industry.

The Laing O’Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering will build on existing expertise at Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science and other departments around the University, such as the Department of Materials and the Oxford e-Research Centre, to improve construction methods and processes.

The founding of the Centre will lead to the creation of two new academic posts: the Laing O’Rourke Professor of Automation in Construction and the Centre Director.

Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science is at the forefront of research in areas such as control engineering, computer vision, and mobile robotics and navigation, with the Professor of Automation in Construction and Centre Director bringing additional expertise in such areas as control, automation, and materials for construction.

Laing O’Rourke are at the forefront of bringing manufacturing and off-site construction methods to bear in the construction industry, with many benefits including improved efficiency and safety. The Centre will also carry out work on fundamental techniques to support the construction industry, for instance the use of integrated decision support systems for the maintenance of technical knowledge, to ensure that experience is properly captured to achieve future benefits.

Ray O’Rourke, Laing O’Rourke’s Chairman and Chief Executive, said: “The global trends influencing the built environment over the next 25 years will demand new and radical approaches to how we engineer and construct buildings and infrastructure in the future. This collaboration with University of Oxford will play a vital role in the research and development of viable and sustainable solutions to meet this challenge, advancing Laing O’Rourke’s already well-established manufacturing and assembly capabilities.

This new construction engineering centre will provide a ‘boundaryless’ and dynamic environment, unburdened by the usual corporate distractions that exist in large organisations, providing the brightest engineering minds with the freedom to explore and innovate for the benefit of our industry and society at large.”

Professor Guy Houlsby, Head of Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science, said: “This new Centre represents a completely new way for the construction industry to engage with research in engineering, and the Department of Engineering Science is the ideal place to respond to the challenges of a rapidly changing industry. We hope to work closely with Laing O’Rourke to bring new manufacturing and automation techniques to the construction industry, as well as working in other areas of common interest.”

In association with the founding of the Centre, a framework agreement has been drawn up for the University to provide professional development services through the Department for Continuing Education, assisting Laing O'Rourke with the development of its staff through accredited programmes and short courses.

Isis Innovation, the University’s technology transfer company, contributed to the framework agreements covering future access to University consulting expertise and intellectual property.

The signing of the Strategic Alliance Agreement was celebrated at the Divinity School in Oxford with key representatives from Laing O’Rourke, the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London and the Royal Academy of Engineering attending the ceremony. The ceremony was followed by lunch and a special tour of the Bodleian Library.