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Hexagonal design cements prize in concrete competition for University of East London students

A unique hexagonal shape design solution has won three students from the University of East London the Sustainability Prize in a concrete competition run by the Concrete Centre.
This is the third year that the University has won an award in the Concrete Centre’s Structural Concrete student competition, having come top last year and also in 2016 in the main Structural Concrete category.
The students, Joseph Jeremiah Fahy, Delia Elisaveta Marocico and Ashish Madhukar Mamde, who are studying master’s degrees in either Civil Engineering or Structural Engineering, each received a prize of £167 and certificates.
For the competition, which was sponsored by Laing O’Rourke, one of the largest construction companies in the UK, the students had to design a large floor in a building following certain criteria and dimensions and including a number of columns. They had taken inspiration from Yale University’s Art Gallery ceiling in coming up with an unusual hexagonal design concept to meet the competition’s requirements.
The contest brief was used as the coursework assignment on the students’ concrete design module, which was led by Dr Ali Abbas, senior lecturer in structural engineering and design and course leader for MSc Civil Engineering and MSc Structural Engineering.
Dr Ali Abbas said, “This is a very prestigious competition in which we were competing against other universities all over the country. The brief to design a large floor was a real challenge for the students, who had to come up with structural solutions as part of their coursework. But the final design proposals were both creative and practical and produced to a very high professional standard. They have won the Sustainability Prize this year, which is fitting at a time when the University is strongly focusing on the importance of sustainable growth and diversification as part of its Vision 2028 strategy for the future.”
All three students agreed that “it’s all thanks to the University and the chance to work with incredible teachers that we have won this prize.”
Joseph Fahy (27) from Canning Town, who is studying for an MSc in Civil Engineering part-time, said he had enjoyed working on the project. “It was very interesting and I liked the freedom to come up with our own design solution and then to actually prove its viability through detailing and calculations. It was very rewarding and I was very pleased that we had won.”
Joseph is currently working as a construction manager for a developer and hopes his master’s degree will help him progress into senior project management on larger heavy civil projects.
“The University of East London has helped me expand my knowledge greatly, especially on the design side of civil engineering,” he said. “Without a doubt, Dr Ali Abbas and Dr Karl Micallef are both great lecturers and mentors and I am sure without their teaching our submission would not have been up to the same standard.”
Joseph added that he felt this will definitely help him in the future and with this master’s. “I also hope to obtain Chartered Engineering status with the Institution of Civil Engineers,” he said.
Delia-Elisaveta Marocico, (24) who comes from Romania and lives in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, is studying for an MSc in Structural Engineering at the University of East London. She started her degree in January this year and plans to finish the course early next year and wants to be a structural engineer.
“I enjoyed doing this project very much as I found it a challenge and having quality people to work with was even better,” she said. “It was a real surprise to have won the Sustainability Prize. It is really important as it deals with having a sustainable approach, which is one of the future engineering problems and something which is more and more required these days.”
Ashish Mamde (22), from East London, who is also studying MSc Structural Engineering with industrial Placement and plans to graduate in 2021, added that when he heard the contest result it was a “moment of joy” for him. “I feel honoured to be a part of this success and it has been a great experience. I have learned a lot from this competition.”
The project required sustainability ideas and the students came up with a ‘triangular waffle slab solution’. The team found that this was one of the few structural solutions that would actually work and, as the building was hexagonal in shape, that triangular rather than square ‘waffles’ would be more suitable. After much research, Joseph found an example on the Yale University Art Gallery ceiling which proved to be the inspiration for the design.
Dr David Tann, Head of the School of Architecture, Computing and Engineering at the University of East London, said, “Many congratulations to our very talented student team and our very own superb supervisor Dr Ali Abbas. We are very proud of this fantastic achievement, as they have done our School and the University as a whole proud. I don’t believe any other university has reached this position that we are now in, winning a very prestigious national prize three times and beating the likes of Imperial, Sheffield, Glasgow and others.”