Two civil engineering academics join the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies. Their research will specialise in wind and infrastructure, as well as energy systems and thermal.
The academic ranks of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies have been bolstered by the arrival of Professors Kenny Kwok and Jianlei Niu to the School of Civil Engineering.
Wind and infrastructure engineer Professor Kenny Kwok returns home to the University of Sydney after 15 years, having previously held positions as Professor of Wind Engineering, Associate Dean of Engineering, Director of Wind Engineering Services, and Director of Graduate School of Engineering between 1977–2002.
His main research interests and technical expertise are wind engineering and structural dynamics, particularly wind effects on buildings and structures, wind tunnel tests, environmental fluid mechanics, vibration control and occupant comfort assessment.
“The University of Sydney has a long history of research excellence on the global level and I am excited to be making my return and further contributing to that high standard,” said Professor Kwok.
“The School of Civil Engineering is home to some world-class research infrastructure such as the recently commissioned boundary layer wind tunnel at the Centre for Wind, Wave and Water Research, that possesses sophisticated equipment including a Particle Image Velocimeter, gas detection and analysis equipment and wind load and pressure sensors.
“I look forward to the opportunities to engage with colleagues on collaborative research as well as playing my part in guiding the next generation of professional engineers.”
Professor Kwok applied his knowledge most recently at the Western Sydney University, and previously at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where he currently holds the position of Professor Emeritus within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Energy systems and thermal engineer Professor Jianlei Niu arrives as a conjoint appointment with the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning.
Professor Niu’s research activities span a wide spectrum of areas related to real-life issues in built environment and energy efficiency, including indoor air quality, control of infectious diseases spread, advanced built environment control technologies for thermal comfort and modern data centres.
His more recent activities have been more focused on developing cross-boundary research programs, ranging from developing thermal energy storage materials to developing simulation methodologies for factoring outdoor wind and thermal comfort in urban planning.
“I am looking forward to addressing the emerging new challenges facing society, such as the worsening thermal comfort conditions in big cities, and the associated sleep deprivation problems in overheating summers,” said Professor Niu.
“There is also the opportunity to potentially develop interdisciplinary programs between both Faculties that explore concepts including improving the environmental health, city liveability and energy efficiency of high density cities.”
Professor Niu joins the Faculty after most recently serving as both a Chair Professor of Building Environment and Energy at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Chair of Departmental Research Committee, Director of Research Centre for Building Environmental Engineering at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
“I look forward to witnessing the positive roles both Kenny and Jianlei will play in expanding upon our current research as well as creating further opportunities for inter and multidisciplinary research,” said Professor Brian Uy, Head of School at the School of Civil Engineering.
“Kenny is at the forefront of wind engineering and it is only fitting he return home to where it all began to continue his research into wind–structure interaction.
His more recent research has involved multidisciplinary research teams between engineering, psychology, medicine and the sciences and we are looking forward to him to further galvanise these important opportunities in his return to our School.
“Jianlei has expressed a strong commitment to teaching in the area of environmental modelling and simulation in our engineering programs and will provide our students with fresh insights on how this applies to architecture and design.”
The academic ranks of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies have been strengthened by the arrivals of Associate Professor Amin Chabchoub and Doctor Edward Hoffman to the School of Civil Engineering.
Dr Yixiang Gan is researching how heat transfers through porous matter such as sand and rock. Understanding the physics of these granular materials may be the key to dependable energy systems.