Two University of Southern Queensland researchers have been named among this year’s prestigious Advance Queensland Industry Fellows, with their work set to strengthen the state’s infrastructure.

Through the fellowship program, Dr Hamid Ahmadi received $240,000 to investigate the application of newly developed composite materials to improve the resilience of marine infrastructure. Dr Andy Nguyen was awarded $360,000 to develop a novel AI technology to monitor the structural and health conditions of Queensland’s transport tunnel network.

Part of the Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland strategy, the Advance Queensland Industry Fellowships program facilitates collaboration between research and industry on major technological, environmental and social challenges, helping the state’s scientists to create the industrial engines needed to make Queensland a global innovation economic powerhouse. Dr Ahmadi’s project will address issues caused by the 2022 East Coast Floods, which led to $5.5 billion in damage to critical infrastructure, including parts of Queensland’s marine navigation system that allows boats to safely traverse coastal areas and waterways.

Dr Ahmadi will be joined on his project by engineers from Wagners Composite Fibre Technologies and Maritime Safety Queensland as well as three UniSQ postgraduate students. “As part of this project, we aim to develop a new aid-to-navigation structural system made of composite material which is highly durable against fluctuations in the marine environment,” Dr Ahmadi said. Currently, Queensland’s aid to navigation systems are built using steel, a material highly susceptible to corrosion. Dr Ahmadi and team will investigate the use of a material incorporating glass fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP) as a steel substitute.

Dr Andy Nguyen, an engineering specialist, will use his fellowship to develop a novel AI-powered automated structural condition and health monitoring technology to advance condition management and digital engineering of the transport tunnel network in Queensland. The technology will rapidly and accurately uncover the structural condition of tunnels in real time in the field to enable rapid assessment and decision making and ensure greater public safety than what the current condition assessment methods offer.

The project promises to deliver strong outcomes for Queensland including a significant reduction in maintenance costs and the creation of an AI-driven technological platform for upskilling civil and asset engineers in Queensland in years to come.

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