Event Schedule



Opening ceremony and opening lecture

Welcome reception



Conference day, scientific sessions



Conference day, scientific sessions
Gala dinner & concert

Keynote Lectures


Building the future: Concrete’s role in renewable energy storage

To expedite the urgent transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to one based on renewables, a scalable energy storage solution has been introduced in the form of multifunctional concrete utilizing inexpensive and widely available nano carbon black. By employing a combination of correlative SEM/EDS-Raman spectroscopy alongside capacitance measurements, this study demonstrates that the incorporation of a hydrophobic carbon phase into hydrophilic cement produces a high surface area electron-conducting carbon network within the porous cement matrix, thereby creating a functional supercapacitor. This innovative technology holds the potential to underpin cost-effective systems for storing renewable energy from sources such as solar, tidal, or wind power, while simultaneously replacing CO2-intensive battery technologies.

Damian Stefaniuk, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Damian Stefaniuk is a Research Scientist at the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is structural and materials engineering scientist specializing in the development of sustainable construction materials and structures. In his research he focuses on science-enabled engineering of sustainable cement-based materials, with applications ranging from designing corrosion-resistant prestressed bridge structures to exploring chemically induced pre-cure carbonation for carbon storage and developing electron-conductive concrete for renewable energy storage. The overall goal of his research is to make civil engineering infrastructure part of the solution of the urgently needed energy transition while mitigating greenhouse gas emissions associated with cement production.

Aleksandra Królicka, PhD, Wrocław University of Science and Technology, Poland

Aleksandra Królicka isan assistant professor in the Department of Metal Forming, Welding, and Metrology at the Wrocław University of Technology in Poland. Her Ph.D. thesis covered the welding processes of bainitic steels with particular emphasis on characterizing the welded joints structure. Currently, she is the principal investigator of two research projects covering the issues of in-use properties and thermal stability of bainitic steels (“The concept of high-strength, thermal stable nanostructured bainitic steel with increased weldability” Project: 2020/37/N/ST8/03324, National Science Centre Poland and “Modeling of the multi-phase structure of nanostructured bainitic steels focused on improving their technological properties” The Bekker Programme, Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange). In her projects, she focused on developing new grades of bainitic steels with enhanced thermal stability. Its strategy considers both the approach of designing the chemical composition, heat treatment processes, and the synergistic effect of strengthening mechanisms. Her research field of interest includes nanocrystalline bainitic steels, advanced multi-phase steels, and electron microscopy methods for engineering materials characterization.


Enhancing the life cycle of railway tracks: the influence of microstructure on the fatigue, fracture and wear behavior of bainitic rails

In 2022 global CO2 emissions from the transport sector grew by more than 250 Mt CO2 to nearly 8 Gt CO2, 3% more than in 2021. When considering CO2 emissions, railways are considered an ecological way of transporting people and products, which is reflected in the number of investments in the EU market in this field. The European Union’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy predicts that by 2030, both high-speed rail traffic and freight traffic will increase by 50%, on the other hand, by 2050, high-speed rail traffic is expected to increase by 300%, and freight traffic by 100%. There is no doubt that the steel sector and railway infrastructure are directly interdependent. The railway sector also uses large amounts of steel and is one of the major recipients of steel-making companies. Moreover, the steel industry alone is responsible for 25% of industrial CO2 emissions, which proves that the problem of carbon footprint in the steel sector plays a crucial role. Therefore, extending the life cycle of rails through the use of novel steel grades will contribute to reducing the carbon footprint associated with steel-making processes. The factors determining the durability and life cycle of rails are their fatigue and fracture performance. Another factor influencing the life cycle is the intensity of wear and the accompanying wear mechanisms. The influence of multi-phase structure on fracture toughness and fatigue crack growth rate will be presented. The main microstructure factors influencing cracking processes will also be indicated. Finally, the analysis of the bainitic rail subjected to 5 years of operation in heavy-loaded freight tracks will be introduced. The prospect of using novel steel grades constitutes a promising direction for designing high-performance railway tracks subject to heavy loads during operation (i.e. high-speed trains and heavy-load tracks).


Concretes for sustainable transportation infrastructure – north European approach

Transportation infrastructure is a lifeline of every country’s economical and defense systems. Disturbance in its functioning case problems in everyday life of people but may also lead to catastrophic consequences. Concrete, in parallel to asphalt, which is used for road surfaces, is the dominating material. The sustainability problems associated with concrete are well known to engineers and society in general. Despite its numerous benefits and being a backbone of
construction, concrete is perceived as responsible for significant CO2 emissions and having problems with a long-term durability. Northern Europe with its long and snowy winter adds even more demands on this material. The presentation will address these issues and show how the sustainability of transportation infrastructure is enhanced in Scandinavia.

Prof. Andrzej Ćwirzeń, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden

Prof. Andrzej Cwirzen has obtained his master’s degree in civil engineering from the Silesian University of Technology in Poland and his PhD in Concrete Technology from the Helsinki University of Technology in Finland. As an associate professor, he led the Concrete Technology Research Group at Aalto University in Finland. Later, he was appointed as a full professor at the Luleå University of Technology in Sweden and chair of the Structural Engineering Research Group. Since 2019, he is a chaired professor of the Building Materials Research Group at the same university. In parallel to his academic career, Prof. Cwirzen has been working as a consultant and R&D project manager for construction companies and concrete producers in Europe. In his over 20 years of work with concrete technology, he has focused on nanotechnology and nanomaterials, including carbon nanotubes and carbon nanofibers, alternative ecological cementitious binders, high-strength concretes, ultrahigh-performance concretes, durability, and production technology of concrete structures. He is a senior member of RILEM, member of several committees of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and at the American Nano Society. Prof. Cwirzen holds two patents related to ecological cements. He has been a visiting professor at several universities in Europe, Canada, USA and Australia

A/Prof. Bui Quoc Bao, Ton Duc Thang University, Vietnam

Dr. Quoc-Bao Bui received his PhD in 2008 at ENTPE (Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics de l’Etat) Lyon, France. From 2008 to 2011, he continued at ENTPE as Postdoc researcher funded by ANR-Arvise project and Filiaterre company, respectively. From 2011 to 2016, he worked as Associate Professor at Polytech Annecy-Chambery, University Savoie Mont-Blanc, France. Since 2016, he has joined Ton Duc Thang University (TDTU, Vietnam) as Associate Professor. He is currently the Head of Sustainable Developments in Civil Engineering (SDCE) Research Group, Faculty of Civil Engineering, TDTU. His research interests cover from materials to structures: non-conventional materials (soil-based materials, recycled materials, geopolymer, graphene-based nano sheet materials), energy-efficiency buildings and structural analyses (static and dynamic behaviour). He has published 80 articles in international journals (referenced in Web of Science), 45 articles in the proceedings of international conferences, 3 books and 4 book chapters, Guest editor of 3 special issues of international journals. He is currently in the Editorial Board of two international journals (referenced in Web of Science) and has been reviewer of numerous international journals. He has been coordinator or member of several international and national research projects.  


Different approaches to obtain sustainable buildings

Civil engineering is the sector causing considerable environmental impacts: energy consumption, CO2 emission and over-exploitation of natural resources. Concrete, the popular material in civil engineering, uses Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) as binder, but the cement manufacturing consumes high energy amounts and emits important CO2 gas to the atmosphere. The over-exploitation of the natural aggregates for the manufacturing of concrete (sand, gravel) causes serious environmental problems, especially the exploitation of river sand. Alternative construction materials which have less environmental impacts are the topic of different scientific researches. Local soils have been used to replace gravel and sand to obtain soil-concretes, or in other techniques such as rammed earth, compressed earth blocks (CEB), adobes, cob. 

Soil-based earth material attracts the attention of the public and scientific researches because of its low embodied energy, positive hygro-thermal behaviour, and the potential in a circular economy. In several cases, binders (e.g. cement, lime, geopolymer or fibers) are added to enhance the mechanical properties and the durability of soil-based materials. 

This paper presents different approaches in the use of soil for the manufacturing of construction building materials. Beside the classical approaches using cement as the binder for soil-based materials, other approaches are also presented. The application of geopolymer as a binder for soil-based materials or the application of graphene-based nanosheets (GNS) are reported.


Italian Universities for Territorial Sustainable Development and Responsible Communities, with a Focus on UniTS Case Study 


Promoting sustainability through innovative solutions and cultural approaches is today a prior task for universities. Under the flagship of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), universities are asked to commit themselves to conveying the message that sustainability is not a “luxury” but an essential vehicle for pursuing and guaranteeing everyone’s rights, inclusion, and future. The aim is to help tackle the complex problems and challenges sustainability refers to through the implementation of territorialized actions, and strong collaboration with other public institutions, private actors, and communities. Aware of that, in 2016 Italian Universities set up a Network for Sustainable Development (RUS) acting as a model to encourage cooperation with their hosting cities and territories, and to spread social, economic, and cultural progress and innovation at the local and national levels. Since 2017, the University of Trieste (UniTS) has joined the RUS and has implemented a number of measures and projects working both on the micro-context (to orientate behaviors and habits within its community), and on the macro-context (to raise public awareness and support local administrations and territories). By presenting Italian experiences and focusing on UniTS case study, this paper describes the present framework of policies and measures that actively involve university locations, students, researchers, professors, and administrative staff, as well as some “public engagement” projects developed in Trieste and addressed to help territorial institutions meet the sustainability goals. 

Prof. Elena Marchigiani University of Trieste - Italy

Elena Marchigiani University of Trieste, Department of Engineering and Architecture, Trieste (IT) 

Associate professor in Urban Planning. She develops research and practical experience on spatial planning and urban design, with specific reference to the issues of landscape and sustainability, participatory and inclusive processes, regeneration of social housing districts and, more in general, to the issues related to the design of public spaces through the perspective of inclusive accessibility. She is part of TrIAL – Trieste Inclusion & Accessibility Lab at the Univerity of Trieste 

Prof. Ilaria Garofolo University of Trieste - Italy

Ilaria Garofolo University of Trieste, Department of Engineering and Architecture, Trieste (IT) 

Full professor in Technology of Architecture. She develops research on organisational models for the management of building projects, with specific reference to the evaluation and monitoring of processes and resources, strategies and protocols for environmental sustainability, inclusive design in relation to the conditions of usability for real users. She is the coordinator of TrIAL – Trieste Inclusion & Accessibility Lab at the Univerity of Trieste.  

Eva Spackova, Ph.D., VSB  Technical University of Ostrava, Czech Republic

 Dr. Eva Spackova
Architect, associate professor of architecture at the Department of Architecture, head of the University Museum at VSB ‒ Technical University of Ostrava. Registered architect in the Czech Republic.
She is concerned for the topic of the city in all of its forms with an emphasis on regeneration of the environment and buildings built in the socialist period. Her research interests include the use and creation of participatory planning procedures and publicly engaged design. She participated in the
research project Community-based participatory planning in urban areas as a leader of the VSB-TUO team (2019-2021).
One of the topics of her interest is the public art in architecture and the institution of the university museum including the acquisition, care, and maintenance of objects in the collections, as well as the research opportunities and educational programming that relate to it. Her research project during her nine-month stay in USA (2018-2019) focused on the public art collection at Iowa State University, USA and considered how this case is representative of planning processes for public art in American university buildings and public spaces.
She participates on juries for architectural competitions and works as a member of the municipal commission for building and architecture for the city of Hlucin. She is engaged in various educational and popularising activities in the field of architecture (lectures, workshops, summer schools, urban
games, public walks, community engagement etc.).


The search for a sustainable city as part of urban planning

City planning has long been based on the notion that success means growth, expansion, enlargement and intensity. Considerations for a paradigm shift towards sustainable development do not only include changes in thinking in an economic sense, but also social values and the protection of natural
wealth. At the same time, sustainable development tries to eliminate or mitigate the negative effects of the current way of urban development. This is directly related to good and effective decision-making and administration of public affairs. This can be achieved through fact-based decision-making
and improving the conditions for public participation. A functional and meaningful social dialogue is an essential part of urban planning.
The lecture will present an example of territorial development in the socialist city of Nová Ostrava (today’s Ostrava-Poruba), founded in the 1950s on a green field that was originally supposed to be the “sector center” of the new city. This area had been planned in detail since the 1960s, but remained undeveloped until 1989. After the change in economic and social conditions, the territory gradually began to develop with the will to fulfill the original plan, but without a corresponding result. Currently, it is only a system of individual buildings with only partial public spaces without connections. All phases of planning from 1951 to the present will be analyzed. For the last part of the
territory, an assignment for an urban study is to be processed, which should combine the requirements of the public and the city management and try to solve this territory in an important location in the center of the city district Poruba. The result of the public discussion is to leave this space empty and create a new city park here. According to the residents of the city, natural space is the most valuable quality in this case. More valuable than buildings that have been planned in this place for a long time without a more detailed determination of what they should be used for.


Development of Sustainable Sinkhole Research in Australia

Sinkholes are a danger to people in most countries.  They can instantly happen and swallow up roads, cars, and even houses, no matter small or big in heavily populated urban areas.  The reality is that many sinkholes are actually manmade. Broken water mains, sewage pipes, and drainpipes underneath roads and parking lots are all common sinkhole causes. Data shows sinkhole damage caused in the last 10 years has required an average of $3.0 billion US dollars per year in repairs all over the world. This seminar will discuss the recent development of sustainable sinkhole research in Australia. Topics may include the feasibility of developing a portable drone mounted GPR based experimental study, the advanced numerical simulation of the sinkhole problem, and the development of new sinkhole repair guideline and design options.



Jim S. Shiau, PhD (Newcastle), Associate Professor, University of Southern Queensland, Australia

Jim Shiau is currently Associate Professor at University of Southern Queensland, Australia. He received a Ph.D. degree from University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia where he continued two years of post-doctorate under the leadership of late Laureate Professor Scott Sloan. His research focuses on deep braced excavation and soft ground tunnelling, sinkhole stability, finite element limit and shakedown analyses for geotechnical stability problems. Jim Shiau has extensive experience in the design of underground structures. He enjoys the breadth of general practice with interests in geotechnical stability research. He has published more than 20 high-impact SCI Q1 journal articles as both first and corresponding authors.

Jim Shiau has also involved in the organisation of several international conferences in Australia since 2014. He has chaired three international conferences in 2004, 2007 and 2008. Jim Shiau is a passionate and creative educator in geotechnical engineering. He is experienced in geotechnical education with the uses of project-based learning, physical modelling, and short videos for online learning. He was a recipient of USQ Teaching Award.

More information about Jim Shiau can be found on these self-maintained sites.
USQ Staff Profile | Google Scholar | ORCID | Twitter

Special sessions

Special session I:

The Special Session entitled “Fatigue and fracture of eco-friendly, green and alternative
structural materials” is organised by TC3 Fatigue of Engineering Materials and Structures
of the European Structural Integrity Society (ESIS).

Main topic:

Nowadays many researchers are increasingly devoted to discovering and characterising innovative structural materials able to reduce the environmental impact on energy-consuming and polluting sectors. Among them, the construction industry is one of the main sectors of the world economy, and is responsible for huge energy absorption, environmental pollution and consumption of raw materials, due to the production and transportation of the building materials. To preserve both the raw materials and the environment, eco-friendly, green and alternative structural materials are increasingly employed and developed in the construction field. To promote the use of such materials, a deep characterisation in terms of mechanical behaviour is needed, paying particular attention to their fracture and fatigue properties. In such a context, this Special Session aims to encourage scientists and researchers to divulge their experimental and theoretical findings, allowing an interesting multidisciplinary discussion.


Organising Committee:

Grzegorz Lesiuk, Wrocław University of Science and Technology – Poland (
Camilla Ronchei, University of Parma – Italy (
Daniela Scorza, University of Parma – Italy (
Aleksandra Krolicka, Wrocław University of Science and Technology – Poland (
Sabrina Vantadori, University of Parma – Italy (
Andrea Zanichelli, University of Parma – Italy (

Special session II:

“Digitalisation for sustainability”

Main topic:

The origination and advancement of digital methods in construction is one of the most dynamically developing research directions. Interwinding civil and mechanical engineering with information technologies requires a truly interdisciplinary approach. Thanks to harnessing new technologies, such as 3D Printing or Artificial Intelligence, researchers are conceiving methods and workflows that allow for the reduction of the environmental footprint of structures, indicating paths towards net-zero economy and infrastructure.

This special session will concern all digital methods in construction leading to sustainable and durable solutions. From digitally-supported design to optimise structural topology and reduce material demand, through digital fabrication and assembly for optimal material placing and utilisation, digital monitoring for structural assessment and extension of service duration, up to machine- and computer-assisted methods for disassembly,
upcycling and reuse. In this session, we will discuss how digital technologies help to bring sustainability to the physical building world.


Organising Committee:

Bartłomiej Sawicki, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany (

Special session III:

Nature Based Solutions for Sustainable Geotechnical Design”

Main topic:

Recent technological innovations have expanded the choice of materials and techniques to be used in the design of geotechnical works and risk mitigation measures. Nature-based and Bio-based solutions as well as green materials and geosynthetics are increasingly becoming sustainable alternatives to traditional engineering measures and materials. At the same time, the recent advancement of the physical and mathematical modelling capabilities of the thermodynamic, hydraulic, and mechanical processes controlling the stress-strain response of the soil, has improved the reliability of the performance predictions of the adopted solutions and of
their effects on the environment. This is relevant, for example, when dealing with the design of landslide risk mitigation measures. This special session is intended to be an opportunity to show and discuss latest results from recent design experiences and to propose new nature-based and bio-based solutions for a sustainable geotechnical design, in terms of circular economy, eco-system restoration and climate-change adaptation.


Organising Committee:

Francesco Cafaro, Polytechnic University of Bari – Italy (
Federica Cotecchia, Polytechnic University of Bari – Italy (
Adrian Różański, Wrocław University of Science and Technology – Poland (
Vito Tagarelli, Polytechnic University of Bari – Italy (

Special session IV:

Universities for Territorial Sustainable Development: working in-between knowledge transfer and civil engagement”

Main topic:

Today, the active promotion of sustainability is acknowledged as a pivotal task for universities. Under the flagship of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the call is for deep change in the ways universities address their fundamental missions and internal organization, and stronger interaction with their internal and external stakeholders. Overall, a key issue is how can new approaches and measures concretely foster universities’ social responsibility towards SDGs.
This special session will discuss practices and projects that universities are developing to play an active role in addressing SDGs, promote and co-design and implement social innovation with local communities. The reference is to actions performed both at the micro-level (i.e., to orientate behaviors and habits within universities’ spaces and community), and at the macro-level (i.e., to raise public awareness and support local administrations and the civil society with reference to larger urban and territorial contexts and dynamics). The invitation is to critically reflect on key points that can help Higher Education Institutions more effectively integrate measures involving their spatial assets, governance and communities, as well as stable collaboration with other public and private local institutions and stakeholders.


Organising Committee:

Ilaria Garofolo, Elena Marchigiani, University of Trieste, Trieste (Italy)


Special session V:

Rethinking cities through urban innovation”

Main topic:

Cities experiencing rapid growth struggle to adapt to industrialization and expansion, burdened by inadequate planning, infrastructure deficiencies, pollution, overburdened urban services, and shortages in the labor market. These urban environments magnify global challenges like climate change, water and food security, and resource scarcity, while offering opportunities to address them.

Understanding how cities change and the multitude of demands they face is crucial. Equally important is adapting tools to recognize changes in human activities, the environment, and market dynamics. Employing methods to address evolving urban needs and involve different stakeholders helps cities develop collectively. This approach encourages an evidence-based planning ecosystem, utilizing state-of-the-art innovations to create equitable, livable cities for all. Urban innovations are essential drivers of the economic and social development of cities, offering scalable, replicable solutions adaptable to various urban areas using emerging technologies.

This special session aims to bring together academics, researchers, practitioners, government officials, and civil society representatives to collaborate and exchange ideas on urban innovation theory and practice, fostering knowledge creation and dissemination in this field.


Organising Committee:

Urban Innovation Center, WroclawTech (Poland)


Poster session and Dyckerhoff Young Scientists’ Award

Poster session for Young Scientists and others


During the conference, a Poster Session is also planned. For young scientists, this event is also associated with the Dyckerhoff Young Scientists’ Award Contest. The pdf document with the competition rules can be downloaded here.