Dr Ailar Hajimohammadi
Dr Ailar Hajimohammadi has joined the academic staff of CIES and the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering as a Senior Lecturer. With over a decade of experience in both industry and academy, Dr Hajimohammadi brings to us a varied palette of expertise: project management, industry consultation and training, academic research and teaching in chemical, structural and environmental engineering. Originally interested in chemical engineering, Dr Hajimohammadi’s PhD research on sustainable cementitious materials shaped her current focus on innovative construction materials and techniques.
This shift to civil and environmental engineering has allowed her research to become more multi-disciplinary and collaborative. “The most innovative way I can approach my research is to look at the problem from different angles,” she reflects. “Rather than just focusing on what I already know, I want to know how others see the problem, how other disciplines are approaching it. In this way new methods, new solutions appear. Useful, important, but also very interesting for me. Multi-disciplinary university structures allow for increased communication, visibility and opportunities for academics to work in less isolated ways.”
Ailar’s industry expertise was developed as she worked for the international technology company AspenTech. Her former colleagues openly praise her technical skills that go hand-in-hand with a warm humanity, and excellent communication skills. She is regarded throughout the international engineering consultancy as intelligent, organised and thorough, whilst remaining an original thinker that asks the ‘what if’ questions.
At AspenTech one of Ailar’s main responsibilities was providing technical training sessions to a broad range of clients. She knows that technical knowledge is only part of the solution. How theory is applied is just as important. It is bridging this gap, between research and practice that remains one of the driving forces for this academic.
Rather than just focusing on what I already know, I want to know how others see the problem, how other disciplines are approaching it. In this way new methods, new solutions appear.
Joining a school like CVEN, with its extensive industrial tendrils, seems like a perfect fit for this highly regarded, industry savvy and much awarded engineer. For the last 4 years Ailar has been working with a waste recovery group she led under an ARC Linkage program to uptake landfilling wastes and convert them to valuable products. Having produced many high impact publications, she is passionate about making the world more sustainable for children like her own 4-year-old son and she holds dear the principle of education as an antidote to global inequality. “The most precious gift I can give anyone is to educate them, sharing knowledge: a lifetime gift.”
Also, to these ends, she works with industry and the academy on the many innovative applications of sustainable construction materials. These materials can utilise recycled waste products, can create cheaper, more durable materials as alternatives to traditional concrete. Also, they can be designed to provide insulation, retard fire and dampen noise. In fact, sustainable materials and technologies research has the potential to revolutionise the civil engineering and construction industries. Not only does it represent green innovation in its use of waste materials, but it can transform the affordability of our built environment.
Improved performance of material durability, tensile and compressive strength, deadload, bonding, shrinkage and elasticity are among many other properties and potentials. Sustainable construction materials use is on the cusp of becoming widespread, as its appeal and acceptance, based in its obvious benefits, grows and grows. “We may have started with concretes, but sustainable alternatives have evolved into more complicated composites, with more load bearing construction potential. There is tremendous growth in its applications for fire-resistant high-rise buildings and for sound dampening road barriers”, both so important in a city like Sydney where high-rise buildings sprout like seedlings and the noise of traffic and construction threatens liveability. “Generally, I hope that my research will lead to an increase in the resilience of construction materials while decreasing their negative environmental impact.” It is vital that CVEN leads the way in this growth, in this revolution and Dr Ailar Hajimohammadi is at the forefront of this drive.
As she establishes herself at CVEN, Ailar is looking to create a waste management network where the adaptable applications of novel materials are investigated through research connections with other engineering disciplines: water, structural and geo-technical. “The use of sustainable materials in construction can also extended to other civil applications such as water treatment technologies and soil stabilisation methods, so it is beneficial and interesting to find mutual interest between disciplines.
“I love teaching. Since I was very young: I would sit in front of younger children and play at teaching them. I enjoy spending time with people and seeing them progress in their lives. After supervising, mentoring or teaching, seeing students be successful and happy, it’s very fulfilling. Recognising talent and guiding that talent in the right direction is thrilling.” Establishing her role in a CVEN program on waste management and resource recovery, Ailar hopes to support post graduate research into minimizing and utilizing waste for sustainable development in various civil applications This research breadth is supported by her varied skills and by her wish not to limit her research to one area or discipline.
And she has quickly found her way here. The structured welcome CVEN provides to new staff has been much appreciated. “The clear, quick and concise lab space induction meant I could commence my research supervision within the first few weeks here. In that time, I have also made contacts and begun to initiate projects.” Ailar is finding the life in Sydney enjoyable for its pleasant weather and fabulous beaches.
CVEN welcomes our new staff member Ailar Hajimohammadi and hopes that our partnership is long and successful.