The urge to become an engineer hits many people early on in life. Dr. Hicham Fihri-Fassi first felt the call as a young high school student. “I’ve always liked to innovate, and engineering enabled me to do just that,” he says.
Dr. Fassi has since taken those teenage ambitions and made an impressive career of them—today he serves as professor of mechanical engineering at Morocco’s University Hassan First, and is a member of the Faculty of Sciences and Technologies in Settat (FSTS).
Dr. Fassi with some of his engineering students.
True to his drive for innovation, he’s also responsible for establishing a new research and innovation center at the university, pulling together interested experts from various industrial companies to promote the use of mechanical simulation and other engineering tools, informing and educating his students in the process.
Dr. Fassi is also very focused on the wealth of architectural and archaeological sites in the surrounding area, and has become a strong advocate of preserving them. One of the tools he uses for this work is Abaqus FEA software from SIMULIA, the Dassault Systèmes brand for realistic simulation.
Dr. Fassi and fellow researchers at University Hassan First were faced with compatibility problems when replacing centuries old masonry with modern construction block and mortar while restoring heritage buildings.
Fortunately, realistic simulation helped the university identify internal compressive stresses between dissimilar materials.
The masonry on the left was repointed with compatible mortar, the one on the right with mortar of greater rigidity. Note the stress lines extending into the structure—these will eventually crack or even crush the legacy material, leading to structural failure of an important artifact.
Restoration workers were able to fine-tune repair materials in advance, match the physical properties of legacy materials and avoid potential damage to important architectural structures.
3DEXPERIENCity, Wind Simulation for Singapore City, Singapore
Traditional models of urbanism are challenged today by the growing and increasingly diversified population in cities. Urban planners will find they need a new planning model that takes into consideration the needs of hyper-dense cities. They will need to re-think how we imagine, plan, design, analyze, simulate, realize and manage cities in order to better plan for the future. New urban planning tools also are needed to foster better communication among governments, business and citizens.
One solution with the potential to transform urban planning is the 3DEXPERIENCE city map. By creating a data-rich virtual model of the city in all its complexity, and linking it back to actual existing conditions in real-time, we can understand through simulations the potential effects of various systemic changes before implementing them.
The ability to visualize the built environment is critical to the design and construction of civil construction projects. While 3D simulation is widely used in the design phase of infrastructure projects, it is still gaining momentum in the construction phase.
Advancements in 3D and 4D simulation technology, however, now make it possible for project stakeholders to better visualize the construction process of complex buildings and infrastructure projects. This advanced visual communication provides a valuable asset to the building design process and is one that civil engineering projects should adopt.
More construction project sites now use virtual design and construction simulation. Virtual simulation provides a 3D and 4D computer-generated representation and offers a very realistic view of buildings, bridges, infrastructure, and other graphical models.
The process begins by either leveraging the included Civil Engineering Catalogues (i.e. smart tools, reusable components, and IFC-compliant objects which speed up the creation of the skeleton), or the design can start from scratch.
As the global population continues to rise, worldwide spending on civil engineering projects is expected to grow. Emerging markets such as China, the Middle East, and Latin America will be looking to facilitate rapid increases in infrastructure projects quickly and cost-effectively.
To keep pace, civil engineering and infrastructure professionals will need to address industry challenges, such as managing costs and schedules, reducing waste, and improving efficiency.
One key reason for inefficiency in AEC infrastructure projects is fragmentation. An integrated, collaborative environment would eliminate fragmentation, address business challenges, achieve higher quality, and improve efficiency.
The reconstruction of the Yanggao South Road covered the area between the current Century Highway and the Pujian Road cross-route bridge, and measures a total of 1.95km (1.2 mi).
The road, tunnel structure, Zhangjiabin Bridge, rain sewage pipeline, traffic sign and lines, signal lights, ventilation, monitoring system, power transmission and distribution, architecture, greening, and related equipment—as well as the initial greening and pipeline relocation—cost RMB ¥1.455 Billion in construction and installation, with the total investment amounting to RMB ¥2.47 Billion [USD $386 Million].
The Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE platform version R2015x was selected as the BIM platform for the entire process. SMEDI realized the following benefits by adopting the 3DEXPERIENCE platform:
SMEDI is particularly strong in designing bridges, having designed almost all the major bridges in Shanghai. Of course, SMEDI’s work goes way beyond the city of Shanghai. One notable example is the Ganjiang Second Bridge in Jiangxi Province, which has a “fish-like” design that fits very well within the surrounding landscape.
The complex structure of the bridge comprises of a steel upper part, a concrete lower structure and in the middle, a mixed concrete and steel section.
The Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute (SMEDI), one of China’s top municipal engineering companies, has completed 12,000 projects including water treatment plants, as well as road, bridge, rail, urban landscape, fuel gas and geotechnical engineering projects.
Compass spoke with Lv Wei Zhang, association chief engineer in SMEDI’s IT Center, and Junwei Wu, deputy director of SMEDI’s BIM Center, about their work to develop IT solutions for civil engineering’s unique challenges.
COMPASS: What challenges are SMEDI facing in executing its work?
LV WEI ZHANG: In China, it is common for major infrastructure projects to be carried out with design and construction happening in parallel. Typically, only 50% of the project is designed when construction begins. During construction, owners are able to plan the rest of the project with greater precision. So they modify their design as the project evolves. This is one of the ways to adjust projects.
Despite these benefits, there are challenges in adopting BIM.
One major obstacle is that it involves changing people’s habits, often needing to overcome a significant degree of resistance.
When new ways of working are proposed within a corporation, this can result in internal clashes or even paralysis while processes are reconfigured. Bottlenecks can also occur while designs are being refined and assessed.