Heuristics in engineering education. A case study application to sustainable bridge management systems

ABSTRACT

This paper deals with the postgraduate course ‘Predictive and optimisation models for concrete structures’, offered at the Masters in Concrete Engineering of the Universitat Politècnica de València. Within this course, engineering students are introduced into different optimization algorithms, such as simulated annealing, neural networks, genetic algorithms, etc. of application in the automated design of concrete structures of any type. In recent times, such heuristic methods have turned out to be of great interest in the resolution of complex and actual engineering problems, such as the sustainable design and management of structures. This communication presents a case study where the ongoing research of the teaching body is applied so as to find the most sustainable management strategy for a particular bridge system consisting of 7 bridges whose lengths vary between 380 m and 1980 m. The optimization problem here aims to minimize both the economic and environmental life cycle impacts derived from the maintenance of the concrete decks of a bridge network by selecting the adequate maintenance intervals for every deck considering annual budgetary restrictions. A multi-objective simulated annealing algorithm is applied to find the set of Pareto optimal solutions for the presented engineering problem. The environmentally preferable maintenance strategy results in life cycle costs 4.9% greater than those related to the cost-optimal strategy, which in turn results in environmental impacts 5.6% greater than those from the environmentally optimized management option. Results are then compared to the optimal strategies considering a single bridge deck, showing that the optimality at the bridge level does not necessarily lead to a sustainable optimum at the network level. From this it follows that, when optimizing maintenance under budgetary restrictions, the network shall be analysed as a whole, and not as an aggregation of optimal strategies for each individual bridge. The case study presented here shows in a nutshell the close connection between the course curricula of the MSc course and the ongoing research of the teaching and research group.

KEYWORDS

Postgraduate education; applied research; heuristic algorithms; sustainable thinking; bridge management system

REFERENCE

NAVARRO, I.J.; YEPES, V.; MARTÍ, J.V. (2018). Heuristics in engineering education. A case study application to sustainable bridge management systems. Proceedings of ICERI2018,the 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation, Seville (Spain), 12th-14th November 2018, pp. 9788-9797.  ISBN: 978-84-09-05948-5

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Methodology to raise awareness of sustainable practices in public procurement of construction

Abstract:

Public procurement has the potential to influence the market in terms of sustainability. For this reason, public procurement in the construction industry is increasingly taking into account social and environmental criteria for awarding infrastructure projects. Universities should raise awareness among students promoting activities that foster sustainability. Therefore, this article proposes a methodology to study sustainable practices in public works procurement. Students assume a public role in order to select the key criteria to be included in the tender procedure. The aim of this research is to boost the awareness of students about the importance of the tender stage to achieve high levels of sustainability through the selection of the construction companies. Students choose the most important environmental and social criteria for a highway project. Besides, they propose an indicator and a metric for each criterion. This activity has been applied to graduate students of the Master of Planning and Management in Civil Engineer at the Universitat Politècnica de València. Students belong to more than 10 different countries of Europe and Central and South America. This active-learning method encourages future professionals to carry out sustainable practices in construction. In addition, this multicultural approach invites to share different points of view and sustainable practices from different countries.

Keywords:

Learning methodology, sustainable practices, multicultural approach, public procurement.

 

Reference:

MONTALBÁN-DOMINGO, L.; GARCÍA-SEGURA, T.; LOZANO, A.; SANZ, A. (2018). Methodology to raise awareness of sustainable practices in public procurement of construction. Proceedings of INTED2018 Conference, 5th-7th March, Valencia, Spain, pp. 5910-5918. ISBN: 978-84-697-9480-7

 

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