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Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction

Transforming infrastructure through smarter information

PhD student at the Laing O'Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology receives research fellowship to continue work in satellite monitoring of infrastructure.

Sakthy Selvakumaran

We are delighted to announce that Laing O’Rourke Centre student Sakthy Selvakumaran has been awarded the Isaac Newton Trust/Newnham College Research Fellowship in Engineering. This new five-year Fellowship is for outstanding early-career female researchers, and Sakthy will also contribute to teaching both in Newnham College and in the Engineering Department. Sakthy is a Newnham graduate and the College is delighted to be able to welcome her as a Senior Member.

Sakthy is a chartered civil engineer with nine years professional experience working in design, contracting, international development and R&D roles across various countries and project types - spanning mega-projects on the UK rail network to working on housing reconstruction following earthquakes. She is listed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe List, served as an ICE President’s Apprentice (now ‘Future Leaders Scheme’) and has been appointed to the Young Professionals Panel of the National Infrastructure Commission in the UK. 

In 2015, her varied and accomplished professional career led her to return to the University of Cambridge to embark upon a PhD in the Laing O’Rourke Centre, supervised by the Centre’s Director Professor Campbell Middleton.

Sakthy’s PhD research explored how rapidly advancing radar satellite imagery technologies, which can detect millimetre scale changes on the earth’s surface, might transform our ability to monitor infrastructure assets, and possibly predict signs of impending failure and collapse. This work has been funded by the EPSRC and National Physical Laboratory (NPL), received additional funding from the Laing O’Rourke Centre, and technical support and data from the German Aerospace Centre (Deutsches Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR) and Satellite Applications Catapult.

This research has outlined both the opportunities and limitations of using satellite measurements and developed methodologies for translating data into useful information for asset owners. The demonstrated potential of Sakthy’s research has attracted significant interest in her post-doctoral plans to carry this research agenda forwards. Sakthy will use her Fellowship to establish and lead what will be a growing research group in satellite monitoring of infrastructure within the Laing O’Rourke Centre. The plans for this group are being developed in close partnership with a number of key industry and academic players, including the Centre for Digital Built Britain and the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC).

By harnessing the power of industry-academia collaboration and fast-developing satellite based services, this promises to be an exciting and productive new programme. We look forward to reporting on the progress and advances to follow.

For details about the developing research group, please contact Sakthy at .


This article first appeared on the Laing O'Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology website