Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Notre Dame University- Louaize (NDU) Associate Professor Dr. Michel Soto Chalhoub was invited as a keynote speaker at Waseda University in Tokyo Japan where he presented on "Innovation Management and the Role of Low-Tech Industries." It was attended by industry professionals, Deans, Chairs, instructors, and students from various universities in the region.
Waseda is highly ranked in Japan and in the world as one of the oldest yet avant-grade universities. For his part, Dr, Chalhoub said, "Some of the most innovative companies known today were founded as far back as the 1800s. They adopt a renewal strategy that keeps them in a leading position in their industries.”
Innovation is not synonymous to high-tech. Dr. Chalhoub argued that the more disadvantaged a country or region, the more it should resort to innovation. In an opening plenary session at Waseda, Dr. Chalhoub shared an overview of several facilities that he designed and participated in building such as Disney attractions for which he earned awards in the USA including the Engineer of the Year Award commemorated with the American National Engineers Week. Typhoon Lagoon, designed and built between 1989 and 1991, still ranks in 2018 among the top 3 theme parks in the world. "This innovative facility uses no hi-tech gadgets as I rather designed it based on centuries-old engineering principles ... related to fluid-structure interaction, wave propagation, and hydrodynamics ... the art was in putting those principles to work together and produce a novel outcome" concluded Chalhoub.
Dr. Chalhoub also gave a technical presentation on "The Development of Simplified Code Formulas for Seismic Design," highlighting the importance of innovative techniques in the protection of buildings, lifelines, and critical facilities against extreme earthquakes. The USA, Japan, and the East Mediterranean are all seismically active regions. Lebanon would greatly suffer if a tremor hits and is in need of collaborative research with countries like Japan with funding for code development and industry practice. "In such cases, the aim of novel techniques in seismic design is not just to keep the facility standing, but rather to keep it operational when it is most needed during and after an earthquake," said Dr. Chalhoub when he discussed emergency response centers, evacuation arteries, hospitals, and the like.
At another event at Nihon University in Tokyo, a top-four university in Japan, Dr. Chalhoub presented his latest research in Ecohydraulics. "Environmental impact assessment should become an unwavering prerequisite to any developmental project," explained Dr. Chalhoub while sharing his data analysis from seasonal rivers in Lebanon. He explained why traditional hydraulics methodologies and computational approaches require an overhaul in light of degradation due to local human intrusions combined with the effects of global climate change.