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International delegates attend MESAT conference at AUS
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the Second Middle East Society of Asphalt Technologists (MESAT) Conference on Sustainable Asphalt Pavements in the Middle East was inaugurated today, February 5, at American University of Sharjah (AUS). Attended by industry leaders and experts from around the world, the three-day event will offer a unique opportunity to share valuable technical expertise and the exchange of asphalt paving experience in the Middle East.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Peter Heath, Chancellor of AUS, welcomed the more than 100 international delegates who are participating in the conference. "Governments everywhere must rely on the engineering expertise and materials available to them today to build a robust infrastructure that will stand the test of time and serve future growth in population and traffic," said Chancellor Heath. "This conference will surely help to meet this challenge. I have no doubt that you are committed to ensuring that the engineering industry is supplied with the latest technical innovations to guarantee a safe and enduring environment for ourselves and future generations," he added.
Dr. Hany El-Kadi, Interim Dean of the AUS College of Engineering and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, also welcomed the delegates to the conference. He said that the university's College of Engineering had the largest student body on campus, with 2,500 students enrolled. "I would like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to all the authors who contributed papers as well as to keynote speakers for their presence here," he added.
Organized by the Institute of Materials Systems (IMS) at the AUS College of Engineering along with MESAT, the conference aims to form a strong network of specialists in asphalt and pavement technology. With the growing demand for road construction in the Middle East, there is a need for specialists in the field. Countries in the region are rich in crude oil, which is used to surface more than 90 percent of roads around the world. Bitumen specifications, testing methods and modification are advancing at a rapid rate that requires the focused and effective development and dissemination of knowledge about bitumen and asphalt roads. MESAT 2013 will foster the sharing of scientific and engineering knowledge about asphalt materials and roads, offer timely and easily accessible technical information about asphalts via the Internet and proceedings of periodic technical conferences, advocate the best practices in the research and building of asphalt roads, and bridge the gap between research and practice.
"This is a unique opportunity for AUS and IMS to have professionals on road and airport materials and pavement design in the UAE and the region establish scientific collaboration and links with international centers of excellence in this field. This would not only help us enhance AUS and UAE's image regionally and internationally but also help us provide solutions to road and airport problems in the country, adopt new technologies and increase sustainable performance of our road and airports," said Dr. Adil Al-Tamimi, Chair of the Conference, Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of IMS. "We are delighted to organize this conference with our colleagues from the civil engineering and chemical engineering departments at AUS in close collaboration with the universities of Wisconsin and of Nevada in the US, American University of Beirut and University of Balamand in Lebanon, and Sharif and Moderasan universities in Iran as well as Parsons in the UAE."
The opening session was also addressed by Dr. Nadir Tabatabaee, Chair of the Board of MESAT, who thanked the delegates for their presence at the event and gave a brief history of the conference. His remarks were followed by the first keynote address entitled "Evaluation of Fracture Tests for Compaction Joints in Asphalt Pavements," which was delivered by Dr. Manfred N. Partl, Chairman of the RILEM Committee on Asphalt Materials Testing and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Materials and Structures. Other keynote speakers at the event include Dr. Ramzi Taha, Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Engineering, Qatar University; and Professor Herve Di Benedetto, Professor at the University of Lyon, France, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Road Materials and Pavement Design.
Also present at the conference were Dr. Thomas Hochstettler, AUS Provost, along with other senior university officials, faculty members from the College of Engineering, staff and students.
The conference, which ends February 7, will feature technical presentations, workshops and business meetings and aims to form a strong network of specialists in asphalt and pavement technology. The event was preceded by a seminar on Road Materials and Pavement Design presented by the Board of Editors of the International Journal of Road Materials and Pavement Design, yesterday, February 4. It will also feature a full-day workshop on Airport Pavement Design presented by the US Federal Aviation Administration on February 7.