Smart partnership

Smart partnership

  • The Crossrail project
    The Crossrail project

Construction engineering was facing a series of unprecedented challenges that required new ways of thinking, new responses and the questioning of accepted professional practices.

The Laing O’Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering (LOR) is a unique partnership between the Department of Engineering, the Cambridge Judge Business School and Laing O’Rourke, the UK’s largest privately-owned construction company. It combines a Chair in Construction Engineering with a master’s degree programme, a PhD programme, cutting-edge research and undergraduate teaching. LOR was formed five years ago with the aim of generating future industry leaders equipped with the skills and knowledge to negotiate the changing landscape of construction in the 21st century.

The concept for the Centre arose from a realisation that construction engineering was facing a series of unprecedented challenges that required new ways of thinking, new responses and the questioning of accepted professional practices. The combination of a rising global population, dwindling natural resources and increasing urbanisation are just some of the challenges LOR is addressing through a combination of cutting-edge research and excellence in teaching, grounded in real-world experience and with real-world impact.

The vision Laing O’Rourke has shown in supporting academic research, graduate students and practical learning experience demonstrates its commitment to advancing change and revolutionising the construction industry.

David Cardwell, Head of the Department of Engineering

From Crossrail to the Forth Road Bridge

The current research portfolio of the LOR has a strong emphasis on technology and innovation, with particular focus on the key areas of: design for manufacture and assembly, advanced manufacturing, digital engineering, smart sensors and new materials.

There has been much fruitful collaboration between the civil engineering sector and LOR that has had genuine industry impact, from the Crossrail project to the Forth Road Bridge and improvements to the West Coast railway line. Thanks to the work of LOR Director and Laing O’Rourke Professor of Construction Engineering Cam Middleton on smart sensors in bridges, Dr Mohammed Elshafie’s tunnelling expertise and Dr Ioannis Brilakis’ research into placing digital technology at the heart of every building project, the construction industry is getting ‘smarter’ and more sustainable. As Professor Middleton explains: “It has been a pleasure to lead LOR through this exciting launch phase and now our entire team is focused on building upon this foundation and establishing the Centre as the world’s leading centre of excellence for education, teaching and research in construction engineering.”


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