Engineer earns high-profile research fellowship



Dr George Vasdravellis

The Royal Academy of Engineering has named a Heriot-Watt academic for a prestigious fellowship.

Dr George Vasdravellis, from the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society, is one of just seven outstanding engineering researchers announced by the Royal Academy of Engineering for the Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowships. The structural engineer, who is based at the University’s Edinburgh Campus, was chosen for his work in 3d-printed structural nodes for sustainable and resilient steel buildings.

Metal 3d-printing enables the manufacturing of steel components using complex and highly-optimised geometries that would be impossible using traditional manufacturing techniques. This technology offers tremendous opportunities in the construction sector, such as the ability to combine 3d-printed critical parts with traditional beams and columns.

Dr Vasdravellis’ research project aims to develop optimised steel nodes that will have inherent structural properties to allow for reusability of structural components as well as offer an additional layer of safety against rare extreme events such as earthquakes and progressive collapse.

The fellowships allow awardees to focus on full-time research for up to a year by covering the costs of a replacement academic to take over their teaching and administrative duties. This helps mid-career engineers to reinvigorate their research interests and also give other junior academics an opportunity to gain valuable teaching and administrative experience by stepping in to do those duties in the awardee’s place.

Commenting on the achievement, Dr Vasdravellis, said: “I am very excited for this award, as it will give me the opportunity to focus entirely on a new line of research during the next year. The project will explore the feasibility of employing additive manufacturing techniques, also known as 3d-printing, to create hybrid steel buildings with superior sustainability and resilience against extreme events.”

The Leverhulme Trust is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing over £60m a year. It provides funding across a range of academic disciplines such as arts, sciences, engineering and social sciences, with an aim of supporting talented individuals to realise their personal vision in research and professional training.

Professor Stephen McLaughlin FREng FRSE, Chair of the Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowships selection panel, said: "Academic career progression can result in increased administrative and teaching commitments, at the expense of the time available for personal research projects. The Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowships are awarded to enable mid-career academics to focus on such projects while relieving them of additional workload responsibilities.

"I am very pleased to see such a diverse range of topics covered by this year’s awards, from tackling environmental issues such as monitoring water pollutants, sustainable development in drainage and construction, and innovative developments in healthcare provision. These are research projects that could deliver significant benefits to society and the economy."

Academics selected for this year’s Fellowships represent a range of engineering projects, which include producing green hydrogen and using AI to design sustainable drainage systems to creating neural interfaces for stroke and spinal injury rehabilitation.


Craig McManamon

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