Postgraduate Research Topics

Civil Engineering

Research Area  Title  Project Description Supervisor


 Requirement for applicant
Cementitious materials Durability of alkali activated materials in aggressive environment Reactions of aggressive ions with binder products are also among the major factors that are associated with durability performance of concrete structures. Physical and chemical reactions can take place simultaneously between ions and hydration products and must be emphasized when assessing durability performance of a structure. Since AAM and geopolymer binders are relatively new compared to OPC based binder, thus detailed track record of its durability is scarce. Therefore, further detailed study is required to understand the behavior of AAM and geopolymer binders. Dr Idawati Ismail iidawati Email directly to supervisor
Cementitious materials Relationship between binder types and performance The understanding of binder chemistry, and its effect on the mechanical and durability properties of alkali-activated slag/fly ash binders, is still very limited. The chemistry of the resulting binding gels is the main consideration in understanding the mechanism of formation of alkali-activated materials, and its structural development as a function of curing time. Dr Idawati Ismail iidawati Email directly to supervisor
Ground improvement techniques of peat and soft soils Email directly to supervisor Email directly to supervisor Dr Norazzlina M.Sa’don msazzlin Laboratory testing and  analytical modelling
Strength prediction optimization of timber connections Email directly to supervisor Email directly to supervisor Dr Abdul Razak Abdul Karim akarazak Laboratory testing and mathematical modelling
Environmental Engineering Dry Composting Toilets for Sustainable Living in Rural Areas This project involves a comprehensive study on the design of a suitable composting toilet for communities living in rural areas, and assessment  for sustainability in terms of livelihood, public health and socio-economics. Ir Dr Leonard Lim llpleonard Candidate with background knowledge of sustainable development and willing to travel into rural area is preferred for this project
Environmental Engineering Development of Reactor for Chloride Removal from Industrial Sludge This project consists of a study on the extraction of chloride from industrial sludge, followed by the development of a reactor for the removal of chloride in pilot scale. Ir Dr Leonard Lim llpleonard Candidate with prior experience in water and wastewater treatment will be given priority
Sediment Transport Incipient Motion and Sediment Particle Propagation Theory The critical condition that is just adequate to initiate particle motion is termed as incipient motion. Currently, majority of the literature are for loose boundary channel with unlimited depth and supply of sediment such as alluvial channels as compares to rigid boundary channel with limited sediment depth and supply such as concrete drains. Due to this, the Shields diagram and related equations which were developed for loose boundary channels have been used to design rigid boundary channels despite the difference in boundary conditions. Existing studies on rigid boundary channels have shown that the sediment particles are eroded at lower critical values than that predicted by Shields diagram for alluvial channels. On the other hand, equations that are specifically developed for rigid boundary channel tend to become less accurate as the thickness of sediment deposits increased. The understanding on how the sediment deposition thickness will affect the incipient motion characteristics and the difference in mechanics of sediment movement for rigid and loose boundary is still lacking in the literature. A single equation that could unify both the rigid boundary and loose boundary conditions is still non-existence. The current study aims to understand how the sediment deposits thickness will affect the incipient motion characteristics and determine when (at what sediment depth ratio) the rigid boundary channel will behave as loose boundary channel. The current study will involve incipient motion experiment in rectangular flume. Water level and discharge will be slowly increased and the flow velocity will be measured using electronic flow meter once incipient motion of particle is observed. Findings from the current study are expected to produce a single incipient motion equation that is applicable for both rigid and loose boundary channels which are important in the understanding of sediment transport.
Dr Charles Bong Hin Joo  bhjcharles Applicant who are reasonably well versed in mathematical formulation and also willing to do some experimental work. Both Masters or PhD are welcomed.
Hydraulics Investigation of the Factors Influencing the Efficiency of Hydraulic Flushing of Sediment in Open Channel. Sediment deposition in open channel is a serious problem due to negative effects that it might cause such as flash flooding (due to reduction of channel carrying capacity) and pollution from the pollutant existed in the sediment. In European countries, various techniques have been developed for sediment removal in sewer system and hydraulic flushing is the most applied technique. Various experimental studies are available in the literature on the effect of flushes and it was observed that the factors that have effect on flush cleaning efficiency are: i) height of water stored upstream of flushing device prior to flushing; ii) partial exposure of deposit downstream or initial water depth downstream; iii) number or frequency of flushes; iv) distance of sediment deposit from flushing device; v) sediment cohesiveness and void ratio; and vi) sediment thickness. Other factors that may have influence on the flushing efficiency which are lacking in the literature are the opening size of the flushing device, the duration of the flush and the sediment bed length which will be the focus of the current study. The current study aims to determine the effect of gate opening angle, the duration of flushing and length of sediment bed on the efficiency of flush cleaning for a tipping sediment flush gate. This will be done through experimental work using open channel flume. By understanding the effects of these factors, a relationship for the flush cleaning efficiency of a tipping sediment flush gate will be established and thus the optimum design for the gate will be recommended. Results from the current study could provide the basis and recommendations in the design and installation of tipping sediment flush gate for onsite open channel which could potentially reduce the cost of labor for manual cleaning of sediment and lessen the expenditure for sedimentation management. Dr Charles Bong Hin Joo bhjcharles Applicant are willing to do some experimental work. The topic is for Master’s degree but can be extended to PhD level.
Peat Geotechnics Modelling of the Rate Dependent Behaviour of Penetrometers for Improved Geotechnical Characterisation of Peat Peat is a highly organic geotechnical material with extreme compressibility and low shear strength. Because of these unfavourable engineering properties, the predominant preference whenever construction on peat is unavoidable is either total avoidance or total removal of peat. However, these methods are not always viable especially if the peat area is vast and the peat depth exceeds a few metres. Sarawak has the most peat affected areas in Malaysia, with depths reaching up to 20 m. These areas coincide with the upcoming SCORE and Pan Borneo Highway projects. In cases where any infrastructure construction on peat is unavoidable, careful measurement of the undrained strength of peat is required for proper geotechnical stability analyses of infrastructures founded on peat. Due to the difficulty in sampling peat for laboratory strength measurements, there is an increased reliance on in-situ investigation tools such as the CPTU, T-bar and ball penetrometers to measure the undrained strength of peat. However, the resistance (used to derive the undrained strength) of these penetrometers have been shown to decrease with increasing penetration velocities (rate dependent). This implies that any geotechnical design utilising the undrained strength measured at a standard penetration velocity of 20 mm/s may err on the unsafe side. This proposed research aims at understanding the penetration rate dependent behaviour of these penetrometers in peat, via extensive laboratory modelling using miniaturised CPTU, T-bar and ball penetrometers under variable rate penetration test conditions on compressed reconstituted peat samples. This proposed study will also include complementary permeability, consolidation and strength tests on reconstituted peat using the conventional triaxial and oedometer tests. It is envisaged that this proposed research can lead to recommendations for suitable penetration rates and bearing capacity factors (linking penetration resistance to the undrained strength of peat) to ensure accurate undrained strength measurements during penetrometer field testing. Dr Fauzan Sahdi  sfauzan

Good in experimental and analytical skills.

Require PhD and Master students

Water resources Impact of climate change on water resources The study of rainfall forecasting plays an important role to a country such as Malaysia where the rain is abundant. Malaysia receives rainfall from 2000 mm to 4000 mm annually where it is greatly influenced by two monsoon periods in November to March and May to September. The state of Sarawak is well known for its long and wide rivers and rivers have always been the main transportation and still are in certain remote areas. Unfortunately, these areas are expected to experience frequent flood events as well as possible receding water level in rivers based on the findings of previous studies. If the projections are accurate, the productivity of these activities will be reduced, hence, in a longer term may affect the economy of the state as whole as well. Therefore, there is an urgent need for existing knowledge on rainfall behavior to be revised as effects of climate change with the intention that the state can fully utilize the favorable conditions and make scientific based decisions in the future. Further study in rainfall forecasting focusing on the state of Sarawak as suggested by Christensen et al (2207) is indeed very crucial to improve the estimation accuracy for long-term rainfall prediction. Long-term prediction is important for planning and management in various sectors where rain is considered as a major driving factor such as agriculture and water resources. Assoc. Prof. Dr Nasser Rostam Afshar anrostam


Water resources Cost benefit analysis and flood damage mitigation in the Sarawak Aim of this research is to investigate the application of cost benefit analysis methods in decision-making on a desired flood protection strategy in the Sarawak. After a discussion of history and developments in flood protection in the Sarawak, the method of cost benefit analysis is presented as a useful instrument in decision-making. Further-more, the economic analysis of flood protection strategies is firstly approached from a theoretical point of view. Subsequently the economic analyses carried out in practice are described for practical cases, the study on “emergency retention areas” and the dike reinforcement program in the river system. If the economic analysis, when correctly applied, can provide important rational information in the decision making process. Assoc. Prof. Dr Nasser Rostam Afshar anrostam

Phd or Pg

 Management Development of Value Engineering (VE) in Sarawak

The increased global competition and complexity within the Malaysian automotive and construction industries have led organizations to find ways to maximize their products' values, processes, projects or services within a total system while controlling the costs. This can be achieved through Value Engineering (VE), one of the key methods in cost management, which aims to provide better products or services for less cost.

Assoc. Prof. Dr Nasser Rostam Afshar  anrostam  Phd or Pg
Hydraulic Machinery Hydro Rice Milling Machine Some undeveloped Sarawak rural communities still follow the traditional way of harvesting paddies that is through traditional cutting them off. The grain will be collected and then undergo a process of husking to remove the chaff (the outer husk of the grain). Husking is done manually by beating or foot husk. The process of husking is so time consuming as some times, only one person participates, with sifters confining husked rice. The developed Sarawak rural communities use a rice miller to remove the chaff as a replacement of the traditional methods of husking. A rice miller or rice huller is an agricultural machine used to automate the process of removing the chaff. These machines are most widely developed and used throughout Asia. The most popular type is the Engelberg huller. The Engelberg huller uses steel rollers to remove the husk. A rice miller is able to use several sources of power, such as gasoline and electricity. In the case of gasoline powered engine rice huller, the rise of fuel prices in recent year has rendered gasoline engine uneconomic while the electricity dependence rice huller has been just so inconvenience such that many rural and remote areas in Sarawak are still left without any electricity coverage.In this study, the feasibility of implementing hydropower generated rice milling machine is investigated. The possibility is investigated through laboratory testing in both Hydraulic Laboratory of Civil Engineering Department and Control/Fluid Laboratory of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Department. Assoc. Prof. Dr Nasser Rostam Afshar   anrostam  Phd 

Geotechnics of Slurry - Backfill

Mathematical formulation of factors affecting total stress propagation anomaly in cemented slurry deposition within narrow walls

The conventional theory used to determine the total stress (pressure) in as proposed by Janssen (1895) has not fully explained the stress behaviour of material with transient properties such as cemented slurry. In cemented slurry, the properties change with time due to cementation process. Recent published data from full scale experimentation support the hypothesis. This research project will investigate the factors affecting the total stress propagation (increase) anomaly in the cemented slurry during deposition within narrow walls and formulate them mathematically. The objective of the research will be achieved by carrying out laboratory experiments using a novel experimental system by investigating the effect of temperature increase and the effect of wall friction. The expected outcome from this proposed research is to come up with improved theory to better explain the total stress propagation in depositing cemented slurry within narrow walls, i.e. by establishing mathematical formulation between wall friction, temperature increase and total stress. Dr AlSidqi Hasan  


Bachelor in Civil Engineering for Master applicant

Master in Civil Engineering for PhD applicant