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Laing O'Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology

Sensor Systems

Smart sensor systems are providing us the opportunity to gather data throughout all stages of the infrastructure life cycle - providing real-time information on infrastructure operation and performance.


Project: Staffordshire Bridges Long Term Performance Monitoring of Fibre Optic Sensor System

The Laing O’Rourke Centre and Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC) have been involved in a highly successful demonstrator project involving the installation and monitoring of two recently built railway bridges over the West Coast Mainline in Staffordshire. The deployed fibre optic monitoring systems are capable of measuring changes in strain in real time and have already provided fundamental data useful for determining static and dynamic load response. Network Rail has now funded the installation of two new fibre optic analysers that are needed for this long-term performance monitoring system.

Sponsor: Centre for Digital Built Britain, (CDBB)/CIH

Partners: Network Rail, Laing O’Rourke, CSIC, CDBB, Alan Turing Institute, Microsoft

Laing O’Rourke Centre involvement: Principal Investigator Prof. Cam Middleton, Computer Associate Paul Fidler, Senior Research Associate Dr Farhad Huseynov

Dates: June 2019 – May 2021


PhD project: Data-centric engineering for instrumented bridge structures

This research focuses on the integration of monitoring and modelling for bridge performance evaluation and digital twin development, using two instrumented railway bridges in Staffordshire, UK, as a case study.

Researcher: Simon Cong Ye

Supervisor: Prof. Cam Middleton

Funding: Cambridge Trust (PhD student in FIBE-CDT)

Dates: October 2018 – March 2022


PhD project: An anomaly-detection system for cast in-situ concrete structures using fibre optic sensors

The aim of the project is to develop an anomaly-detection system based on detailed understanding of heat transfer as well as strain development and distribution within cast in-situ structures (diaphragm walls/piles) during the concrete hydration process using fibre optic sensors. 

Researcher: Jason Qianchen Sun

Supervisor: Dr Mohammed Elshafie

Funding: Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action (ITN-FINESSE)

Dates: October 2017 – September 2020


Project: WindAfrica - Developing performance-based design for foundation systems of wind turbines in Africa

Africa is facing the challenge of generating more power to meet existing and future demand. The continent is well endowed with renewable energy resources, but there are challenges hindering the development of infrastructure for harnessing wind energy in Africa. An identified challenge includes suitable areas underlain by expansive soils which are sensitive to moisture changes. The WindAfrica project aims to provide design for the foundations of wind turbines in unsaturated expansive soils.  [Further information]

Sponsor: EPSRC (Global Challenges Research Fund)

Partners: Multiple academic institutions. Project led by Principal Investigator Ashraf Osman, Durham University.

Laing O’Rourke Centre involvement: Dr Mohammed Elshafie is leader of the first work package – Field testing of foundations – supported by research associates Dr Talia Da Silva and Dr Khalid Alhaj Abdalla.

Dates: May 2017 – April 2020

Online material for further information:


PhD project: Monitoring scour at bridge foundations

This research focuses on developing an efficient and cost effective structural health monitoring system for bridge scour detection.

Bridge scour refers to the removal of soil from around structural foundations located in a river due to the erosive action of water. In contrast to traditional scour monitoring techniques, vibration-based scour monitoring utilises the structural dynamic response of a bridge as an indirect measure of scour. When a bridge is instrumented with several accelerometers, the ambient vibrations due to the passing vehicles can be used to estimate the dynamic properties of the bridge. The bridge research group at Cambridge University conducted one of the first field trials to study the feasibility of this technique. A bridge with pre-existing scour in Bradford UK was monitored throughout a repair program, which involved the controlled raising of the riverbed level (i.e. scour in reverse).

Researcher: Kasun Kariyawasam

Supervisor: Prof. Cam Middleton

Funding: Gates Foundation (Gates Cambridge scholarship)

Dates: October 2016 – October 2019

Online material for further information: