Tallinn University of Technology

Venia legendi lecture by Emlyn Witt, an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture, will take place on April 12 at 10 AM. With the lecture, Witt will be running for the position of Professor of Risk in the Built Environment. 

The Professor of Risk in the Built Environment will take forward the research group's current research programme related to Resilience of the Built Environment in the face of Disasters, Crises and Risks and, additionally, develop the research group's capacity in terms of data-driven modelling and simulation of built environment (project, enterprise, urban, etc.) systems in conjunction with the Dynamic Simulation Lab initiative.

Risk is a cross-cutting issue that is prominent in many fields of scientific enquiry including Civil Engineering and Architecture. In relation to the built environment, it is a central concept in various specialist subject areas and at all scales. For example, at the project scale, risk management and risk sharing / allocation between parties under different project delivery methods are fundamental to successful project management. At the enterprise scale, the risk-reward relationship is a principle underlining sound investment decisions, and it has been argued that a culture of risk-aversion in construction industry firms is associated with inefficient risk transfer along supply chains leading to high transaction costs, low profit margins, a lack of investment in technology and employee training and low innovation and productivity. At the macro scale, the resilience of the built environment to disasters and climate change relies on effective risk reduction.

At each of these scales, Risk in the Built Environment enables engagement with important issues and collaboration with stakeholders and researchers from multiple disciplines. These include major societal challenges such as climate change, disasters, conflict and their consequences in terms of property and infrastructure damage, economic losses, mass displacement of populations, etc.

Risk is understood and quantified on the basis of data and, with recent trends including the digitalization of the construction industry and the Estonian national e-construction (e-ehitus) initiative, the availability and accessibility of data is greatly increasing. However, more needs to be done to effectively process that data to useful ends. In this context, Risk in the Built Environment is a field of study that will leverage these opportunities for data-driven modelling and simulation of (project, enterprise, urban, etc.) systems in order to generate confidence-rated predictions for 'what-if' scenarios. This will support risk-informed policy formulation and decision-making as well as simulations for educational and training purposes that support data-driven, project-based learning.

Emlyn Witt is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture. He defended his PhD in 2012 and has held the position of Associate Professer in the Building Lifecycle Research Group since 2013. In 2018/2019 he undertook post-doctoral research in Tampere University of Technology. One PhD has been defended under his supervision and currently he is supervising 2 PhD students who are about to graduate in 2022.

The Venia legendi lecture will be broadcasted via MS Teams.