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Representatives of Rochester Bridge Trust were introduced to the latest technology and their applications in assessing the structural health of bridges when they visited the department of Civil Engineering at the University of Greenwich at Medway.

Professor Amir Alani, who holds the Bridge Wardens’ Chair in Bridge and Tunnel Engineering, demonstrated how computerised mapping – taking advantage of ground penetrating radar and vibration monitoring systems – can detect internal defects in the structure of a bridge which are not visible from the surface.

He also revealed how he and his researchers have been testing and perfecting their techniques on the Pentagon road bridge, in Medway, and the Forth Road Bridge, in Scotland.

Professor Alani said the techniques, which are non-destructive, are also invaluable in assessing the structural damage to buildings, roads and bridges following earthquakes.

Since taking up his post, funded for three years with a £250,000 grant from Rochester Bridge Trust, Professor Alani has seen a dramatic rise in the number of students keen to study civil engineering.

“Within the department of Civil Engineering alone we now have 250 full and part time students and there has been an 80 per cent increase in the number of applications from students wishing to enrol for the next academic year.

“It is also very rewarding to discover that our average student satisfaction rate is 91 per cent (based on the National Student Survey) – one of the highest ratings for civil engineering students in the country,” he said.

The Rochester Bridge Trust has been responsible for providing a bridge over the River Medway at Rochester, at no cost to the public, since the end of the 14th century. One of the oldest charities in the country, the Trust also takes advantage of its endowments and investments to support education, engineering and historic building conservation projects in Medway and across historic Kent.

Bridge Clerk, Sue Threader, said: “The Trust is committed to education, supporting research into engineering, and encouraging more young people to consider engineering and science as a career.

“The state-of-the-art facilities now available to students at the University of Greenwich at Medway are very impressive.

“Professor Alani has also built strong links with the key industry advisory boards and organisations, as well as leading engineering companies, which will stand his students in very good stead as their careers develop.”

Mrs Threader and the Trust’s Bridge Wardens were welcomed to the university by Professor Ndy Ekere, head of the School of Engineering.

Notes to editors:

1. The Rochester Bridge Trust is a charitable trust that exists to maintain the old and new bridges at Rochester and serve the travelling public. It is the only surviving bridge trust still serving its original purpose and it has served the people of Kent since 1399. The Trust also supports numerous community and education projects across historic Kent and Medway.

2. The Trust’s assets all derive from endowments of land and money in the 14th and 15th centuries and are carefully managed in order to provide an income to fund bridge maintenance and local charitable grants. The Trust receives no external funding and is regulated by the Charity Commission.

For more information:

The Rochester Bridge Trust
5 Esplanade
Kent ME1 1QE
Tel: 01634 846706
Fax: 01634 840125

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