The CIMM postgraduate programme at the University of Cape Town has a focus on structural and materials engineering with respect to maintenance, rehabilitation and management of civil infrastructure. This is largely based on the expertise of the Concrete Materials and Structural Integrity Research Unit (CoMSIRU) at UCT, which has been developing technologies and procedures for the design, assessment and management of concrete structures for over 20 years. Within the group, there is a marked focus on infrastructure performance and renewal research in the last decade largely in response to industry needs.
Students are to develop a clear understanding of the following aspects:
The concept and scope of civil infrastructure management
Tools used in the practice of infrastructure management, e.g. databases, GIS, information theory and application
Practical application of infrastructure management principles in selected infrastructure systems, e.g. transport, power supply, coastal, and water infrastructure
Design for durability
Service life prediction and performance monitoring of structures
Causes and implications of material and structural deterioration, e.g. concrete and steel
Infrastructure assessment technologies such as non-destructive testing
Infrastructure maintenance and rehabilitation strategies
Principles of life cycle-life assessment as applied to various types of infrastructure
Renewal decision making, relating for example to the effective allocation of limited funds for rehabilitation and maintenance
Project management principles for infrastructure maintenance and renewal
The civil engineer’s responsibility in supporting sustainability in the built environment
Areas of interest
The broad areas of interest cover deterioration science, assessment technologies, and renewal engineering.
Deterioration science examines conditions and processes by which materials and structures break down or deteriorate over time. Our understanding needs to be improved to facilitate effective and rational design, construction and maintenance of structures so as to ensure they are durable, safe, and environmentally sound. Research efforts of the group are focused on developing performance-based design models for service life prediction of reinforced concrete structures, as well as understanding the impact of materials and construction procedures on the durability and serviceability of our infrastructure.
Assessment technologies are needed to evaluate the condition of materials and structures in relation to mechanical performance, structural capacity and deterioration. Research in this area is needed for the development of effective non-destructive evaluation techniques and improved sensor technologies and applications. However, infrastructure management systems should further be based on information about the evolution and the consequences of actual in-service loading and material deterioration. With a comprehensive condition assessment, effectiveness and long-term performance of planned repair interventions can be quantified. Consequently, the economics of interventions such as repair and maintenance can be properly defined. A rational approach to supplement visual inspection-based condition assessment is Structural Health Monitoring, which allows measurement and monitoring of critical structural parameters with the aim of checking if a structure behaves as expected.
Renewal engineering aims at the extension of the life of physical infrastructure and its components, and at the enhancement of load capacities of these systems to meet the increased demands imposed on them. CoMSIRU has a strong research focus on developing and implementing effective repair and strengthening methods using cementitious materials, electrochemical techniques and high-performance advanced composite materials. Research is focused on the performance evaluation of repair and strengthening materials, with the aim of improving specifications, construction procedures and quality control methods.
Dissertations and research projects are supervised by academic staff of CoMSIRU, drawing on their extensive research and industry experience, while benefiting from the research unit’s state-of-the-art laboratory and testing facilities.
The Concrete Materials and Structural Integrity Research Unit (CoMSIRU) is an active research unit in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town.