Published: 03 March 2021

High honour for research which enables optimised design solutions in concrete

Dr Juan Sagaseta has won the highly prestigious American Concrete Institute Mete A Sozen Award for his contribution to the development of a novel analytical approach to designing concrete pile caps, which are used in the foundations of buildings and bridges.

The research, which was a collaboration between Surrey’s Centre for Infrastructure Systems Engineering and Universitat Politècnica de València UPV (Spain), defines a more accurate method for modelling the mechanical and geometric properties of concrete pile caps. This could significantly reduce the costs – both financial and environmental – of design solutions for the foundation schemes of buildings and bridges.

The project team (Dr Juan Sagaseta from Surrey, with Dr Meléndez, Professor Pallarés and Professor Miguel Sosa) was awarded the Mete A Sozen Award for Excellence in Structural Research by the American Concrete Institute (ACI), which is one of the world’s foremost research bodies in this field.

Dr Sagaseta explained:

“Reaching CO2 emission targets is one of the main challenges faced nowadays in the structural design and construction of infrastructure such as buildings, bridges and roads, and one of the key strategies to reduce emissions is to optimise the use of construction materials”.

“Pile caps have traditionally been designed using simple rules of thumb and approximated formulae which can be overly conservative – for example we found that formulae in some codes could underpredict the strength of pile caps by a factor of almost four! Our approach considers strength reduction factors in the material inside the concrete based on theoretical considerations rather than empirical factors, and this could really improve the economy and sustainability of design solutions.”

On winning the ACI Award, Dr Sagaseta added: “It is a huge honour to receive this recognition, which I have always viewed as the ‘Oscar’ of my field. To my knowledge, it was last won by a researcher in the UK in the 1970s.”

This year’s ceremony will take place virtually on 28 March 2021 as part of the ACI Spring 2021 Convention.

The research paper, ‘Refined Three-Dimensional Strut-and-Tie Model for Analysis and Design of Four-Pile Caps’ was published in the ACI Structural Journal in July 2019.


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