Baweja, D 2014, 'Bridging the gap between engineering practice and academia: a materials supply perspective', in ST Smith (ed.), 23rd Australasian Conference on the Mechanics of Structures and Materials (ACMSM23), vol. I, Byron Bay, NSW, 9-12 December, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW, pp. 3-12. ISBN: 9780994152008.
Since commencement in 1967, the ACMSM series of conferences has targeted contributions in materials research, structural analyses, computational studies and foundation engineering, all fundamental to engineering practice. Since that time, there have been major changes and advances in how building and construction projects are managed and delivered and there has been significant change in the commercial landscape in the design, construction and materials supply sectors. The process of how research findings have been implemented into practice has been complex over this time and it has changed with changing commercial and academic environments. How commercial and government segments communicate research needs to academia has also been interesting to observe over time.
This paper considers the role of academic research and its communication and application into engineering practice mainly from a materials supply perspective. This sector forms a major part of the construction industry and underpins infrastructure and building development. It employs a major number of specialist engineers and applied scientists and has had a major link to research over the last 30 years. Importantly, this sector of industry has strong links with the engineering design sector and covers materials such as concrete, binders, aggregates, structural fills, roadbase materials, chemical and mineral admixtures and a vast range of products for construction.