Partner Profile
Prof. Sujeeva Setunge

Prof. Sujeeva Setunge

Associate Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation, STEM college
RMIT University (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology)


Where is your hometown? Where do you live now?

I am originally from Colombo, Sri Lanka and relocated to Melbourne to commence my Ph.D in Civil Engineering at Monash University. I Live in Melbourne, Victoria.

Where did you go to university and your field of study and most importantly why did you choose that field?

I completed my first degree B.Sc (Eng) in Civil Engineering at University of Moratuwa Sri Lanka and completed my Ph.D at Monash University. I love Civil & Structural Engineering as a field, due to the creativity and accomplishment associated with the profession. I worked as a Civil Engineer prior to embarking on a pathway to an academic career. As an academic my passion has been in research activities which deliver clear outcomes to the end users.

Who do you work for now? What has been a highlight of your career?

I work for RMIT University, one of the largest dual sector Universities in Australia. A highlight in my career is commercialising the infrastructure asset management software platform developed through research conducted over a 10 year period, which is now implemented by many organisations in Australia and being implemented in South East Asia with funding from the Asian Development Bank. A more recent highlight is leading a consortium of 9 academic institutions and 32 industry partners to secure an ARC industrial transformation research hub on transformation of reclaimed resources to engineered materials and solutions for a circular economy.

What do you most enjoy about your research and role at RMIT?

I enjoy exploring cross disciplinary research to deliver solutions for complex research problems. Currently I am interested in digital transformation of the Civil infrastructure sector and developing sustainable construction materials incorporating reclaimed resources.

My current research leadership role offers a fantastic opportunity to inspire and lead academics to engage with industry stakeholders and create diverse mechanisms of engagement. I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to drive large and sustained collaborations with end users to translate academic research through strategic academic-industry partnerships.

Tell us why and how you first got involved with Concrete?

The complexity of designing structures with concrete has sparked my interest as an undergraduate. My first job as a Civil Engineer was managing a construction site of a reinforced concrete water retaining structure where I learnt the challenges of moving from theory to practice. My interest in concrete led to selection of a Ph.D research project on structural properties of very high strength concrete, which developed a failure criterion and a constitutive model for concrete with strengths over 100 MPa. Designing safe infrastructure with new concrete materials, which are not covered by design standards is my area of interest and strength.  During my career I have worked on many research projects and have developed and delivered academic programs on design of reinforced and prestressed concrete structures.

What do you find most challenging about working in the industry?

In some developed economies, the pathway to translation is fast. In Australia the concrete and construction industry is still very conservative. One issue I find challenging is the long lead time for innovations to be translated into practice. A solution to this is co-creation and co-design of the solutions with industry and creating an evidence base to convince the end users, which is offered through collaborations such as Smartcrete CRC.

If there was one thing you could bring to life to help shape the future of infrastructure, what would it be?

Creative and smart design of materials and structures to enable self-monitoring for optimised maintenance, flexibility of reuse, ease of deconstruction and resource recovery leading to circular solutions.

SmartCrete’s objective is to help guarantee the long-term viability of crucial concrete infrastructure in Australia, what are your thoughts on this?

Concrete being the second largest commodity used in the world, the SmartCrete CRC is addressing an urgent need of the concrete industry in supporting research towards sustainable materials and intelligent infrastructure. Co-creation opportunities provided by the partnerships of industry and academia will open up shorter pathways to impact.

Anything else you would like to add?

The SmartCrete CRC leadership and the researchers have the required credentials to deliver the expected outcomes. I am delighted to be part of the SmartCrete community.

Partner Profile
Harish Srivastava

Harish Srivastava

Director Civil Engineering
Transport for NSW


Where is your hometown? Where do you live now?

I was born and raised in Uttar Pradesh, India. While completing my civil engineering degree I was selected to work in a public sector company, WAPCOS as a Trainee Engineer in Delhi. I worked with WAPCOS until 2005 and was promoted to Deputy Chief Engineer. During this period I developed port planning and maritime engineering skills through self-study and on-the job training. In 2005, I decided to move to New Zealand to take a position in New Plymouth in North Island where I worked for three years. New Plymouth is the most beautiful place I have ever lived, one can go hiking and surfing on same day. In 2009, I moved to Australia and have lived here since.

Where did you go to university and your field of study and most importantly why did you choose that field?

I completed my Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering from MMMEC, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India and masters in Structural Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India.

At 10 years of age, I received my first lesson in construction. During my summer vacations, I helped my dad in managing construction for the family home in a remote village in India. Every little task given to me was a game for me as I often helped tradesmen in brick laying, mortar making, curing etc. I have no doubt that this fun exercise sowed seeds of civil engineering for me.

In high school I had high level exposure to civil engineering where I prepared a project about urban design of a township under guidance of my brother who was studying civil engineering at the time. This project exposed me to key urban design and civil engineering principles. This project after competing at district level, was selected for displaying at a regional level interschool competition. The small scale exposure I received to planning, design and construction motivated me to pursue a career in civil engineering.

Who do you work for now? What has been a highlight of your career?

I work for Transport for NSW (TfNSW). Prior to joining TfNSW, I worked for a number of consultancy organisations in Australia, New Zealand and India and received an opportunity to travel to a number of iconic locations in Australia, New Zealand, India, Africa and Asia-Pacific. I worked on a number of high profile projects including Rooty Hill station upgrade and multistorey carpark, Barangaroo ferry hub, Coal Terminal-3 at Newcastle Port, NSW, Wheatstone LNG Terminal, Western Australia, Saldanha port upgrade, South Africa, Port Taranaki upgrade, New Zealand, the container terminal at Port Nauru, etc.

What do you most enjoy about your role at Transport NSW?

Currently, I am working as the Director of Civil Engineering. This role provides me an opportunity to work on a variety of projects relating to railway infrastructure, carparks, maritime and other civil engineering projects. I also get the opportunity to work with project teams and delivery partners to adopt low emission/ recycled materials and to incorporate renewable energy infrastructures in projects for improving sustainability.

Tell us why and how you first got involved with Concrete?

Immediately after graduating, I gained an opportunity to work on planning and design of cement terminals at Muldwarka, Gujrat and Panvel, Maharashtra, India. This project enabled me to understand design of reinforced concrete piles, headstocks, precast beams for berths/ approach jetty and plain cement concrete for tetrapod armour units for breakwater. From this project, I learnt about the effect of seawater exposure on durability of concrete structures and various strategies for improving durability.

What do you find most challenging about working in the industry?

I think developing a lower carbon footprint/ sustainable concrete mix while complying with the requirements for strength, durability and workability is the most challenging task. This task becomes even more challenging due to limited guidance offered by Australian Standards for use of recycled and low emission materials requiring a task based research.

If there was one thing you could bring to life to help shape the future of infrastructure, what would it be?

Probably a software or tool, capable of assessing the effect of addition of virgin/ recycled materials and admixtures to a concrete mix whilst predicting concrete performance parameters such as strength, durability, workability and carbon footprint of the concrete mix, will benefit the future infrastructure projects. Such a tool will enable to develop a fit for purpose sustainable concrete mix to suit requirement for an individual structure.

SmartCrete’s objective is to help guarantee the long-term viability of crucial concrete infrastructure in Australia, what are your thoughts on this?

SmartCrete CRC is evaluating a few research projects for use in industrial and non-industrial wastes in concrete mixes to improve sustainability and the carbon footprint of concrete while meeting performance requirements. These projects when complete, are likely to help in mitigating waste management issues.

Partner Profile
Vute Sirivivatnanon

Vute Sirivivatnanon

Professor of Concrete Engineering
UTS Director – UTS-Boral Centre for Sustainable Building
School of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Faculty of Engineering & Information Technology
University of Technology Sydney


Where is your hometown? Where do you live now?

I was born and grew up in Bangkok – Venice of the East, Thailand and studied engineering in Australia. After an early academic career in Thailand and 4 years of building work in Singapore, I returned and established my family and career in Sydney.

Where did you go to university and your field of study and most importantly why did you choose that field?

I loved watching various tradesmen doing their work from a very young age and was fortunate to be able to pursue my passion in engineering under the Colombo Plan scholarship to study Civil Engineering at the University of Tasmania in Hobart. I went on to complete my PhD in Concrete Technology at the University of New South Wales under the supervision of Dr David Cook and Dr Rusty Morgan.

Who do you work for now? What has been a highlight of your career?

I have learn’t the art of concrete production while working as a project engineer in Singapore, and the science of concrete engineering as a scientist with CSIRO Division of Building Construction and Engineering in Sydney. From the challenges I faced in my work in Singapore, I found Professor Adam Neville’s 1987 inaugural concrete lecture in Singapore most encouraging when he highlighted the ‘advent of chemical admixtures’ and the ‘recognition of the importance of concrete cover’ as the two most important advances in concrete technology over the past decades. These highlights totally agree with what I had personally experienced in my working life in Singapore.

Tell us why and how you first got involved with Concrete?

While my natural inclination was in structural engineering, I was given an opportunity by Professor Ian Lee to develop premix polymer-cement concrete in my PhD research at the University of New South Wales. Concrete has since consumed my interest and my desire for people to make the correct use of its immense potential as a “liquid rock”.

What do you find most challenging about working in the industry?
The focus on sustainability in concrete construction began in the late 1970s with tremendous public-good research and innovation conducted and derived by both the private and public sectors. In Australia, we have found the innovative and economic use of a range of industrial by-products in tailoring the properties of high-performance concrete (HPC). Engineers are able to use HPC in a whole range of durable structures to meet the required design life. The challenge to our industry is to instill the current and future know-how to the various levels of professionals working in the industry from the designers to the concrete workforce, and in particular to the owners in both the private and public infrastructures. Professional bodies such as Engineers Australia (EA), Concrete Institute of Australia (CIA), the Australian Society of Concrete Pavement (ASCP) and Cement Concrete and Aggregates Australia (CCAA) have played an important role in technology transfer and training. Greater participation and leadership by the public sector is necessary to accelerate the uptake of advanced concrete technology.

If there was one thing you could bring to life to help shape the future of infrastructure, what would it be?
I would like to see the return to genuine Quality systems in construction with systematic quality control (QC) and quality audit (QA). The integrity of such quality system lies in the independence of quality auditing. However, the pressure of modern life has diluted such quality system by the introduction of the so called “Quality Assurance” which relies on self-assessment which is a complete contradiction to the principle of ‘independent quality auditing”. We have seen significant problems in buildings arising from lack of inspection by qualified engineers during construction and the use of private certification. If this fundamental and genuine quality control and auditing are not reinstated, we cannot expect to see the integrity and longevity for our infrastructure.

SmartCrete’s objective is to help guarantee the long-term viability of crucial concrete infrastructure in Australia, what are your thoughts on this?
Innovation in building materials and construction technologies can certainly contribute to the long-term sustainability and viability of concrete infrastructure, however they can only be fully realised with genuine quality systems.

Anything else you would like to add?
Much effort is put into the development of new, innovative and smart concrete. However, it is the smart way of using concrete which is crucial to the success of concrete infrastructure in Australia. Thus considerable emphasis must be put into our training and developing the next generation of smart concrete users.