Posted on June 14, 2015

Two faculty members from American University of Sharjah (AUS) were recently awarded an US$800,000 grant by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) through the National Priorities Research Program (NPRP), the flagship funding program of QNRF. The funding is for their research proposal entitled “Guidelines for Enhancing the Performance of FRP-strengthened Concrete Beams under Fire and Harsh Environment Exposures.”

The proposal investigates the strength and behavior of externally strengthened reinforcing concrete (RC) beams with fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP) laminates under such severe exposures. Dr. Rami Hawileh (pictured), Associate Professor in Civil Engineering, is the Lead Principal Investigator for the research, whilst Dr. Jamal Abdalla, Professor in Civil Engineering, is the Principal Investigator. In recent years the construction sector in the Gulf region, as well in the US, is increasingly concerned with repairing and strengthening older structures that are rapidly losing their functionality. The use of FRPs in repair and strengthening of RC structures is becoming an attractive proposition due to their light weight, high strength, corrosion resistant properties, and ease of application.

AUS professors awarded prestigious 2 [].jpgIn the last few decades, there has been a large amount of research aimed at developing these FRP materials for wide spread use in civil infrastructure. However, significant knowledge gaps exist with respect to bond between concrete and FRP in strengthened RC beams, especially under harsher environment as encountered in Qatar and UAE, and when exposed to fire, which is becoming an increasing problem in the Gulf region and elsewhere.

Dr. Rami Hawileh stated, “I am very excited to work on this challenging research project that shed lights on many unanswered questions related to the performance of externally FRP-strengthened members under severe loading conditions, including the harsh environment of the Gulf region and fire exposures.”

“The Qatar National Research Fund for researchers in the region and abroad is like the National Science Foundation (NSF) for researchers in US academic institutions,” said Dr. Jamal Abdalla. “Both have very rigorous review processes and are highly competitive. For AUS to get awarded a QNRF grant as a lead institution is a great honor and achievement as well as testimony to the high quality of its faculty and their competitive abilities. This award may encourage more AUS faculty to apply for QNRF grants in the future. My advice to my fellow colleagues is to be patient and persistent, because it might take several trials before getting your proposal awarded.”

Both AUS professors are working in partnership with Qatar University, as the submitting institution, and Michigan State University, as the collaborative institution. The project is expected to finish in three years. The Qatar Foundation’s National Research funds proposals ranging in value from US$20,000 to US$300,000 annually, for research project periods of one, two or three years. It received 869 eligible proposals in its 2015 call for proposals from different countries, and only 120 proposals were awarded in this worldwide competition. The winners were announced at the Qatar National Research Fund annual forum.