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Engineering students win Sustainability Prize in prestigious Concrete Centre competition 

Student accommodation in Docklands campus

University of East London students win with a hexagonal design solution

A unique hexagonal design solution has won three students from the University of East London the Sustainability Prize in a competition run by the Concrete Centre. 

Ashish Madhukar Mamde, Delia-Elisaveta Marocico and Joseph Jeremiah Fahy (pictured above, left to right), each of whom are studying for master’s degrees in either civil engineering or structural engineering, teamed up to win the award.

For the competition, which was sponsored by Laing O’Rourke, one of the largest construction companies in the UK, the students were asked to design a large floor in a building. They were required to follow certain criteria and dimensions and include a number of columns. The University of East London team took inspiration from Yale University’s Art Gallery ceiling in coming up with an unusual hexagonal design concept.

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 the University MSc Civil Engineering and MSc Structural Engineering courses. 

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.”

This is the third year that University of East London students have won an award in the Concrete Centre’s prestigious Structural Concrete student competition, having come top in 2018 and 2016 in the main Structural Concrete category. The Concrete Centre is the central developmental organisation in the UK for the concrete sector.

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 a master's degree in civil engineering, said he enjoyed working on the project. He said, “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.” 

Delia-Elisaveta Marocico, 24, who was born in Romania and now lives in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, is studying for a master's degree in structural engineering. She started her degree in January and plans to finish the course early next year. She 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 for a master's degree in structural engineering and plans to graduate in 2021, added that when he heard the contest result it was a “moment of joy." He said, "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.”

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.”

The students were presented with their prizes on 12 September at a ceremony at the Royal College of Pathologists.