Engineer awarded prestigious fellowship


30-04-2019

Dr Ioannis Brilakis, Laing O'Rourke Reader in Construction Engineering at the University of Cambridge, has been awarded a Hans Fischer Senior Fellowship in recognition of his contributions to the area of ‘Digital Twins for the Built Environment’.

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.

Dr Ioannis Brilakis

The Fellowship carries a €60,000 cash prize and was awarded by the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) at the Technical University Munich (TUM). It is an award for outstanding international scientists who explore innovative, high-risk topics in their scientific research areas together with a TUM Research Group.

Dr Brilakis and his Construction IT group have made pioneering scientific accomplishments in ‘twinning’ infrastructure scenes. For example, extracting a rich digital copy (Digital Twin) of real world infrastructure (such as buildings and industrial plants, bridges, tunnels, roads and railways), so that the Digital Twin can then be used for managing, maintaining and retrofitting the modelled assets.

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.”

The 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).

Dr Brilakis added: “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 more than six 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.”

About Dr Ioannis Brilakis

Born in Heraklion, Greece, in 1978, Dr 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 (2005-08) and Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta (2009-12), before moving to Cambridge in 2012 as a Laing O’Rourke Lecturer. He was promoted to University Reader in October 2017. 

Dr Brilakis 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 and Leverhulme International Fellow (2018-19). 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.

This article has been edited from the Construction Information Technology Laboratory website.

Reproduced courtesy of University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering

To read more information, click here.

The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

University of Cambridge