Dredger funds for coastal engineering chair

The initiative illustrates a widely shared ambition to increase the attractiveness of the sector as a workplace

Belgian dredging contractors Jan De Nul and the DEME Group have joined with the Port of Zeebrugge and others to fund an academic chair in coastal hydraulic engineering at KU Leuven.

Port of Zeebrugge and the two dredging giants are joined by engineering company Tractabel and construction companies Artes and Besix NV to finance the academic chair for Coastal Hydraulic Engineerring and Soil Mechanics of Prof. Dr. Pieter Rauwoens from the KU Leuven Campus Bruges and his colleague Prof. Dr. Jaak Monbaliu of the Civil Engineering Department KU Leuven.

The granting of this academic chair implies a financial support for the next three years for the research programme. With this financial support, the partners aim at making the engineering training at the KU Leuven Campus Bruges more appealing in general and at enthusing trainees for the coastal and hydraulic engineering industries in particular. This will eventually lead to more graduates entering professional sectors such as dredging, port construction and maritime engineering.

KU Leuven currently has more than 100 active academic chairs but this one is unique because of the large number of partners investing in it. In most cases, academic chairs are most often granted by only one or two partners. This initiative illustrates the widely shared ambition to increase the attractiveness of the sector as a workplace.

Joachim Coens, lead partner and CEO of the Port of Zeebrugge said: “ By participating as a cluster in an academic chair at KU Leuven Campus Bruges, we can establish a reputation among the students on the one hand but, more importantly awaken their interest for specific themes in coastal hydraulic engineering on the other hand, We look forwarded to attracting more students via this cooperation with KU Leuven and the private partners.”

The holder of the chair, Prof. Dr. Pieter Rouwoens added: “The set up of an academic chair with leading companies from the hydraulic engineering sector will encourage our present and future industrial construction engineer students. They will be introduced to state of the art techniques that make our Flemish companies global leaders. Also, in the field of research, I expect a boost in socially and industrially relevant projects to meet the challenges of tomorrow; climate change, coastal protection, offshore energy and port development.”

By Larz Bourne

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