College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Civil Engineering Lecturer Visits German University on Gambrinus Fellowship

Dr Oladimeji Benedict Olalusi, a researcher and lecturer in Civil Engineering, recently spent time at the Technical University of Dortmund (TU) in Germany on the institution’s 2019 Gambrinus Fellowship.

The fellowship is awarded to renowned international academics who visit TU Dortmund as guest professors to enhance co-operation in teaching and research. Olalusi is one of the youngest academics to have received it.

Olalusi was based at the university for three months as a guest professor and spent time with Junior Professor of Fastening Technology, Panos Spyridis, who nominated him for the fellowship.

‘It was a great honour to receive such a prestigious award, especially at this early stage of my career, and I consider this a great accomplishment,’ he said.

Olalusi contributed to research and teaching activities, presented a university-wide lecture, and engaged with students to share experiences and enhance co-operation between TU Dortmund and UKZN. The lecture, which was well received by staff and students, focused on the safety performance of stirrup reinforced concrete beams designed according to the Eurocode 2 shear design provisions. Olalusi noted that his presentation confirmed most of his listeners’ reservations about the European Design Standards, especially when used in practice.

During the visit, he and Spyridis conducted various studies on concrete fasteners and the application of machine learning and developed a research proposal on the probabilistic assessment and calibration of a fastening design method, which will be submitted as a grant application to Germany’s national research foundation.

Olalusi and Spyridis also contributed to curriculum content for a course on performance-based design which will be jointly presented at TU Dortmund in the second semester of 2020. They visited Spyridis’ collaborators at City University of London in the United Kingdom and were given a tour of their state-of-the-art wind laboratory. They also attended a leading international event for innovation and technology in the built environment known as “digital construction week”, and visited the expansion and modernisation project of the London Underground’s Bank Station, which Spyridis has worked on, enjoying the unique opportunity to walk the huge construction site for the new tunnel system under the heart of the city.

Spyridis and Olalusi also developed timelines for several forthcoming joint publications.

The visit was a wonderful opportunity for Olalusi to promote collaboration and co-operation in teaching, research, student and staff exchange between TU and UKZN, and resulted in several studies on fastening to concrete, exploration of new research areas and the establishment of collaborative efforts between researchers in South Africa, Greece, Germany and the UK.

Olalusi joined UKZN in August 2019. His research focuses on the design of fasteners for use in concrete. With colleagues, he is working on the structural reliability performance of the available design models, Finite Element Modelling of its structural behaviour and response under different conditions, and the application of Artificial Intelligence to predict failures in fastening systems.

‘The fastening system is an intrinsic component of vital structures and infrastructure systems that are necessary for our regular lives and paramount to our society,’ he explained, adding that these systems aim to ensure safe and stable structures.

Olalusi’s PhD research at Stellenbosch University, focused on structural reliability and risk analysis. His professional experience includes more than five years in Civil Engineering, risk consulting and structural software development.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied