Professor Nashwan Dawood
Where there’s a building site...there’s Professor Nashwan Dawood.
The director of Teesside University’s Technology Futures research institute admits he can’t pass a construction site without donning one of his vast collection of hard hats and popping in for a chat.
For Professor Dawood is a world leading authority on construction research and innovation and he is always looking for new ways to improve how things work on building sites.
‘I’m always looking how to push through change from a research point of view. Improving the product and the process and the well-being of the people working on the project,’ explains Professor Dawood.
‘Things can be improved in terms of safety, and how things are done. Myself and my team work on visualisation of the construction processes so planners and builders can rehearse the different phases of a project.’
The software tool developed for this means builders can suss out any problems before they even get on site. It has been used to rehearse the build on several major new building projects including a new bridge over a London Underground line and a new gas rig at Hull.
Thanks to the work that has been done Professor Dawood and his team are renowned internationally and now collaborate with teams all over the world including in Korea, Japan, the Middle East and Europe.
‘It’s very exciting – one of the problems there has always been in construction is the element of having to ‘suck it and see’, he explains. ‘You start to do the work and then suddenly there are a lot of problems. Now we can simulate the processes in advance on a computer screen in 3D, work out how things are going to be done and communicate this with the supply chain.’
Professor Dawood estimates this can save around 5-7% off projects and help contractors ensure they deliver to deadline. ‘You can virtually iron out problems before they happen. It increases the confidence of clients and therefore increases investment – in the UK there is £100bn worth of work in construction – 20% of the GDP.
‘We have modelled a number of buildings here at Teesside University including the Centuria Building for the School of Health & Social Care. Recently we have worked on a hotel London City Inn and two new school buildings in Newcastle and modelled part of Middlehaven in Middlesbrough.’
Professor Dawood has been at Teesside for almost 20 years. Originally from Iraq, he and his wife Huda, a mathematician, live in Middlesbrough. His two children, Hannah, 16, and Matthew, eight, were born here. ‘Hannah wants to go into engineering and Matthew likes making things,’ Nash smiles.
After studying civil engineering at Nottingham University, completing his PhD at Loughborough University, Professor Dawood worked in industry as system analyst for a company producing pre-cast components for construction.
moving to Middlesbrough
Before he came to the UK, he worked in the Middle East in construction planning. He moved to Middlesbrough in 1991 to take up a position as a senior lecturer and, moving up to be a Reader in 1999 – an appointment for a senior academic with a distinguished international reputation.
Now as Director of one of Teesside’s five research institutes, Professor Dawood admits he is loyal to the University and to Middlesbrough. ‘I am very comfortable with this area and the great people I work with,’ he says.
‘The University and the town have both changed a lot and I am proud to be part of this. It’s a good feeling to have graduated so many students over the years and supported so many postgraduates.
‘The projects I work in with industry means I play a part in supporting the region’s economy so I feel part of the transformation of the region. Like any region in the UK there are problems and still lots to be done so there are challenges.
I have a passion for innovation and finding things out. Construction is a very exciting profession.’
And Professor Dawood has won another accolade for Teesside for his Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with F+G (formerly Faithful + Gould) rehearsing different phases of a major construction project. He has been awarded a Grade A Outstanding.
But for Professor Dawood there is always the one that got away: ‘With a Japanese company, we put in a bid to visualise the 2012 Olympic village but sadly we didn’t get that one.’
I’m always looking how to push through change from a research point of view. Improving the product and the process and the well-being of the people working on the project