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Construction Information Technology Laboratory


Dr Ioannis Brilakis, Laing O’Rourke Reader in Construction Engineering, was elected to receive a Hans Fischer Senior Fellowship that carries a €60,000 cash prize by the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) at the Technical University Munich (TUM).


The award was made in recognition of Dr Brilakis’ contributions to the area of “Digital Twin for the Built Environment”. His Construction IT group has made pioneering scientific accomplishments in “twinning” infrastructure scenes, i.e. extracting a rich digital copy (digital twin) of real world infrastructure scenes, such as a) buildings and industrial plants, b) bridges, c) tunnels, d) roads and e) railways, such that the digital twin can be used for managing, maintaining and retrofitting the modelled assets.


Dr Brilakis said: “It is possible to model existing building and infrastructure assets today, yet the process is rarely performed in practice. Less than 2% of buildings in developed countries have an updated digital copy and much less for horizontal infrastructure. The reason is that modelling/twinning is extremely labour-intensive with the software tools currently available in the market. A bridge model takes several weeks to complete on average, while a complicated industrial plant often means over 6 months of work for a team of 10 or more modellers. This makes the modelling cost prohibitive when compared to the perceived value of the resulting Digital Twin.”


This fellowship directly contributes to the mission and objectives of the Centre for Digital Built Britain, the Laing O’Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology, and the National Research Facility for Infrastructure Sensing at Cambridge, as well as the TUM Centre of Digital Methods for the Built Environment (Leonhard Obermeyer Centre).


Born in Heraklion, Greece, in 1978, Ioannis Brilakis graduated from the University of Patras with a Civil Engineering Diploma in 2001 and from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with an MSc (2002) and a PhD (2005) in Civil Engineering. He then worked as an Assistant Professor at the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2005-2008) and Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta (2009-2012) before moving to Cambridge in 2012 as a Laing O’Rourke Lecturer. He was promoted to University Reader in October 2017. He has also held visiting posts at the Department of Computer Science, Stanford University as a Visiting Associate Professor of Computer Vision (2014) and at the Technical University of Munich as a Visiting Professor & Leverhulme International Fellow (2018-2019). He is a recipient of the NSF CAREER award, the 2018 ASCE John O. Bickel Award, the 2013 ASCE Collingwood Prize, the 2012 Georgia Tech Outreach Award and the 2009 ASCE Associate Editor Award. Dr Brilakis is an author of over 190 papers in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and chairs the Board of Directors of the European Council on Computing in Construction.


Dr Brilakis said: “I'm truly delighted to be chosen as a recipient of the Hans Fischer Senior Fellowship and honoured to follow in the footsteps of so many eminent Senior Fellows. As an engineer who is passionate about the process of digitising our built environment, I'm driven to understand how we can exploit the strengths of machine learning and computer vision to automatically capture infrastructure scene geometry and then apply such insight to generate or update Digital Twins of real world assets. This combination of information and civil engineering spans many boundaries, but inevitably converges on how we can achieve a digital version of our built environment and ultimately generate national digital twins serving the needs of engineering professionals and the general public.”


About the Hans Fischer Senior Fellowship

The Hans Fischer Senior Fellowship is an award for outstanding international scientists who explore innovative, high-risk topics in their scientific research areas together with a TUM Research Group. This award carries a €60,000 cash prize and is named after TUM professor Hans Fischer (1881-1945), who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1930 for his pioneering work on hemoglobin and related structures. In addition to the cash prize, Hans Fischer Senior Fellows receive support for one doctoral candidate at TUM for three years, who will be co-advised by the TUM Host professor and the Hans Fischer Senior Fellow. Hans Fischer Senior Fellows have the right to award doctorates (Promotionsrecht). They also receive an extra €50,000 for travel, housing and research related costs, such as the organization of workshops etc. A further €50,000 can be allocated to the Fellowship if required (e.g. projects with special experimental needs). The Fellowship lasts 3 years with the expectation that the Fellow will spent a total of at least 9 months at TUM. In this way, TUM-IAS intends to further a lasting and productive connection on an international level. Hans Fischer Senior Fellows automatically receive the benefits of a TUM-IAS Visiting Fellow for the year following the end of their tenure with up to €10,000 for travel expenses. They are eligible for further visiting expenses thereafter. Previous recipients of the award include:


Marta Cristina Antonelli, Universidad de Buenos Aires

Angela Casini, Cardiff University

Krishnendu Chakrabarty, Duke University

Kelly J. Clifton, Portland University

Noelle Eckley Selin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Paolo Giommi, Italien Space Agency

Leonidas Guibas, Stanford University

Johannes Lehmann, Cornell University

Bernhard Schrefler, University of Padova

Maya Schuldiner, Weizmann Institute of Science

Henrik Selin, Boston University

Takao Someya, University of Tokio

Jelena Vuckovic, Stanford University


Further information is available here.

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