An Engineering student of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at GUtech has been selected for a scholarship to participate within a group of 30 students in an interdisciplinary international workshop “Engineering for Development (E4D) – Science & Technology for the South” at Delft University of Technology, known as TU Delft. The University is part of the prestigious European IDEA League of universities, that includes as well ETH Zürich (Switzerland) and RWTH Aachen University (Germany). The Summer School is sponsored by the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development.
The topic of the Summer School revolves around the depleting resource sand and the question of how to develop alternative building materials for future cities in emerging countries. “Sand is a component of any product we use in our lives such as glass, concrete, computers, detergents and even toothpaste. During the workshop we will learn how to use sand for the future of our cities,” said Balaj Fazal, 4th year Engineering student at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at GUtech. He will be one of the few Bachelor students attending the workshop that is mainly designed for Master’s and PhD students. Balaj who has been participating with the Shell EcoMarathon team in 2015 in Manila, attended a summer workshop by Veolia last year in its headquarters in Paris. “Given all those possibilities for studying abroad, I am grateful to GUtech. Without the support of the university and especially my professors in Engineering and Mathematics it would have been impossible,” said Balaj, who is a holder of a scholarship of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). He just completed his Bachelor thesis on ‘Modelling and control of the HIV virus”, a topic closely linked to biomedical engineering. After completion of the Summer School, Balaj hopes to apply for a Master’s programme in ‘Management and Technology’ at TU Delft.
The E4D Summer School was created in 2014 for students from various scientific fields such as engineering, architecture and natural sciences. The two weeks workshop aims at developing an integrated vision to a global challenge of today’s construction industry through three workshops such as bio-cementation, crystallization and 3D printing, where the acquired knowledge will be tested and applied. According to the organizers, sustainability in the construction industry has been perceived as the optimisation of existing material and energy production. However, the fundamental energetic and material character of these base resources has not been questioned so far. Due to population growth and increased construction activities around the world, the speed of consumption of construction materials has been increasing constantly.
“Sand can be used as an alternative to concrete. But not all sand is suitable for construction,” said Balaj while explaining that only sand with a rough shape and size, that is found in river beds, lakes and oceans can be used as a building material. During the workshop Balaj and the other students will conduct field excursions to neighbouring countries and have a variety of seminars on the geology of sand, building with sand, alternative materials, planning for the future and building with seawater.
Professors and experts from around the world will share their knowledge and give insights in their field of research, including Aurel von Richthofen of ETH Zurich, who was Assistant Professor at the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design at GUtech. He will conduct a discussion entitled “Sand: an (in)finite resource?”. Through those discussions, the students will not only acquire theoretical knowledge about this resource sand but experiment with current and future technologies to sand and its alternatives.