Maritime infrastructure construction is not possible without dredging. At the core of every port expansion or coastal engineering achievement lies the bedrock of dredging operations and the skills of the dredging industry.
And at the centre of state-of-the-art dredging lies high-level education. Over the years education and research have reached new heights â and depths â that could hardly have been predicted 50 years ago.
The international industryâs dedication to research and scientific studies takes place in cooperation with universities and knowledge institutes and has led to innumerable technological advances. Research centres such as the Technical University in Delft, the Netherlands, UNESCO-IHE (Institute of Hydraulic Engineering) also in Delft, Texas A&M Center for Dredging Studies and Leichtweiss-Institut, Technische UniversitĂ¤t, Braunschweig, Germany are a few such world-renowned institutes. As well as cooperating with these knowledge centres, dredging contractors also seek to recruit graduate students and high-level researchers for their own in-house R&D. Many of the present-day top executives and managers in the dredging industry were trained in these cutting-edge university programmes and the quality of their expertise is evident in the constantly improving products delivered by the industry.
The International Association of Dredging Companies (IADC) also emphasises the importance of a well-qualified workforce by issuing its IADC Awards for the best paper by younger authors at several conferences each year. One such article is published in this issue of Terra et Aqua, based on a paper by a graduate student at Braunschschweig that examines the engineering properties of Geotextile Sand Containers and their effect on the hydraulic stability of GSC structures. A second article written by two TU Delft PhD students analyses the technical and financial feasibility of âflexible design conceptsâ for the Port of Rotterdam â creating added value for the port. Finally, an update on the marine works operations and environmental considerations for the Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link, which will connect Denmark to Germany, offers insights into the extensive research about environmental impacts and studies to find the best-value practical dredging solution to this mega-infrastructure project.
The support of research in dredging-related fields is a top priority for the international dredging contractors and they consistently invest in these scientific studies at universities and knowledge institutes. In addition, recruiting young people from these learning centres boost the quality of the contractorsâ own in-house R&D departments. Taken together, these investments lead to innovation, cost-efficiency and better methods for tackling the complexities of major infrastructure projects. Investing in dredging research is an investment in the future.
Dredging Today Staff, June 18, 2012; Image: IADC