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Joint partnership to foster impactful research 

Develop structural monitoring technology for a safer and better world


The fabric of the world’s cities is changing. With urban centres expanding, the last few decades have seen the rise of mega buildings and civil engineering structures, from towering skyscrapers to sweeping long-span suspension bridges. To protect our cities and their people, it is vital to find ways of helping these new kinds of civil infrastructure to withstand natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis.


Rising to this challenge, an interdisciplinary research team at PolyU developed a pioneering structural monitoring system that provides

real-time “health checks” for mega structures throughout their life cycles. Using this comprehensive and highly synchronised system, the owners and operators of high-rise buildings and bridges can ensure that the structures remain safe, functional and robust even under extreme weather conditions.

Testifying to the success of this ground-breaking technology in making our cities safer, landmark structures such as Hong Kong’s Stonecutters Bridge and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange building are already benefitting from its real-time structural health monitoring. The researchers were even invited to contribute their expertise and experience to the development of China’s first set of Structural Health Monitoring Standards, designed to ensure the safety and resilience of urban structures nationwide.

They are also currently working with industry partners to explore ways of applying the system to other critical areas of urban infrastructure, such as water pipes and wind turbines.

Partnerships like this are at the heart of PolyU’s efforts to cultivate high-impact, application-oriented research of significance to Hong Kong, the nation and the world. Since 2017, research excellence in the field of structural engineering has reached new heights with the support of the Yim, Mak, Kwok & Chung Endowed Professorship in Smart Structures, set up by 1990 PolyU graduate Mr Yau Kwok-fai.

I have chosen to endow a professorship in smart structures at PolyU to leverage its expertise in structural health monitoring and vibration control technologies.
Mr Yau Kwok-fai
CCTV Tower and Tsing Ma Bridge

It is difficult to imagine a more capable appointee than Ir Prof. Xu You-lin, Dean of the Faculty of Construction and Environment and PolyU Chair Professor of Structural Engineering. Prof. Xu has published extensively in the field of structural engineering for more than three decades, and played a pivotal role in high-impact knowledge transfer mega projects such as Beijing’s 51-storey CCTV Tower.

With PolyU’s support, Prof. Xu is ready to take his own research on smart structures to new levels, and most importantly to foster pioneering efforts like the one above.

Under PolyU’s Endowed Professorship Scheme, philanthropists like Mr Yau have the unique opportunity to partner with the University by setting up posts that advance research and academic activities for the benefit of the wider community. Please contact us to find out how you can contribute to this innovative scheme and be part of PolyU’s efforts to promote research excellence for the good of societies worldwide – in Mr Yau’s words, “making the world a safer and better place”.


Publishing date: December 2019

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