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Connected Construction Sites in Infrastructure Projects: A Digital Twin Solution for Total Project Control (Advert Reference: MRDF22/EE/IC3/RAZAVIALAVI)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr SeyedReza RazaviAlavi, Prof Mohamad Kassem, Dr Kay Rogage  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Digitising construction site processes have been partially achieved in infrastructure projects. Digital twin is emerging based on its value proposition that it provides data-driven insights into an asset at all stages of its lifecycle using a variety of data sets from a multitude of sources and professions, in real or near real-time (Dean et al., 2021). Digital twin is an umbrella concept that builds upon a range of information and communication technologies such as BIM, Cloud Computing, IoT (e.g. GPS, video surveillance, RFID, sensors) and Data Analytics to create and connect together a physical asset or process to its digital/cyber replica for enabling a range of decision making capabilities. To date Digital Twin applications have been extensively focussed on the operational phase of a built asset. Its applications in the construction phase of projects are only emerging. This project aims to develop and test a Digital Twin for connected construction site for infrastructure projects that provide general contractors with the ability to monitor and control all of the metrics relevant to the accomplishment of a safe, efficient, high-quality and compliant construction. To date this aim has not been fully achieved as studies investigating digital twin for construction site applications have been focussed on individual use cases (e.g. progress measurement, equipment monitoring, etc.). To achieve this holistic approach and aim, the following objectives need to be addressed:

·      Development of an extensive set of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) for smart and connected construction sites. This includes the definition of each metric and KPI and their measurement approach (e.g. required data, data provenance, frequency of measurement, etc.).

·      Integration of data and applications in the construction field to provide the input required for the selected metrics/KPIs. This also addresses the necessary data transformation required to calculate the metrics/KPIs and the transmission of such data across the Digital Twin’s architecture layers. Key to this objective is to address interconnectivity and interoperability of construction information generated from site through IoT and other mobile technologies. Cybersecurity issues should be also considered as part of this objective.

·      Development and testing of the Digital Twin in live construction sites: this objective will prototype and test the total project control capability of the digital twin for connected construction sites. Testing will involve the ability of the digital twin in achieving transparency of information in construction sites, its ability to provide monitoring and control of historic and real time dynamics of construction site. Key use cases to be selected could be related to site progress, quality, timely delivery of material supplies, equipment efficiency, health and safety, emissions/carbon, etc.

This PhD is co-funded by Northumbria University, Costain and BIM Academy under the IC3 project. The candidate may have to spend time in each of the three organisations.

The International Centre for Connected Construction (IC3) is a centre of excellence for digital construction fostering world leading research in collaboration with industry and the public sector, championing the use of digital technologies to drive productivity, improve safety and procure for value across the entire building and infrastructure life cycle.

BIM Academy is a leading global provider of digital solutions and consulting for strategic information management, operating in 19 countries on 4 continents. Combining research, training and consultancy, they deliver digital solutions for planning, design, construction and maintenance.

Costain is an award-winning company recognised as one of the UK’s leading smart infrastructure solution providers. They offer leading edge solutions that are digitally optimised through the following five services which cover the whole lifecycle of their assets: future-shaping strategic consultancy; consultancy and advisory; digital technology solutions; asset optimisation and complex programme delivery.

The principal supervisor for this project is Dr. SeyedReza RazaviAlavi

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

·      Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.

·      Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

·      Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see 

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. MRDF22/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 18 February 2022

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Funding Notes

Each studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22 full-time study this is £15,609 per year) and full tuition fees. UK and international (including EU) candidates may apply.
Studentships are available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £9,365 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.
Please also read the full funding notes ( which include advice for international and part-time applicants.


Douglas, D., Graham, K., and Kassem, M. (2021). BIM, Digital Twin and Cyber-Physical Systems: crossing and blurring boundaries. Proceedings of the 2021 European Conference on Computing in Construction, online conference, July 25-27, 2021.
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