“Spine-Steel”: The Future of the Construction Industry?

AUC student, Mohamed Mostafa, and his construction engineering thesis team, found a way to change the world of construction and serve humanity.

More often than not, we find ourselves amidst heated conversations with parents, friends, or colleagues, in a flailing attempt to impose a change. This was not the case with Mohamed Mostafa, a graduating senior at AUC majoring in Construction Engineering and minoring in Business Administration.

By the mere age of 22, Mostafa had already found himself with a patent that could potentially change the world of construction engineering. What had started as a thesis project aiming to successfully minimize the cost of iron, turned into a project that could serve humanity.

Mostafa had found a way for construction engineers to bend iron in a braid-like structure, as a way to protect buildings during earthquakes or explosions. Their thesis team is now having their work reviewed with the huge possibility that they could take part in theTransportation Research Board (TRB) conference in Washington.

“I initially wanted to find a way to make iron more profitable but this led me to the concept of ductility; for instance, how a bridge is made. This is used in earthquakes or any sort of strong movement. It helps the structure remain steady and ductile,” said Mostafa.

Mostafa explained that such a discovery could protect embassies or government and military buildings that can be targeted.

He began discussing his ideas with professors over winter break in an attempt to find a lead to pursue and begin his research. Naturally, professors were skeptical of his work. “If we speak to an engineer or a professor about our new ideas, they will call us crazy, because it is not the traditional idea,” said Mostafa jokingly.

Throughout the course of the project, “ If one of the professors had heard about it, they would say I didn’t learn anything in my five years of education,” said Mostafa.

Nevertheless, he ceaselessly pursued his ideas until he found a starting point for his research. Some of the professors that must be mentioned are, “Dr. Mohamed Naguib, Professor of Materials, Dr. Ezz, Structure Professor, and Dr. Darwish, a mentor to the team.”

Some of the challenges came when Mostafa did not have the equipment he needed. The grip; an item necessary for the particular tests he wanted to do, cost 60,000 pounds. Seeking refuge in Cairo University, he found the equipment necessary for his research. One of the bigger problems they faced was trying to prove that iron, in a braid-like form, could prove to be more ductile than straight iron.

When beginning the ‘physical research’ aspect of his thesis, Mostafa was met with cynicism from the lab professor. “The lab manager was quite depressing from the beginning. When I told him that failure is the beginning of success, he told me ‘no, the beginning of failure is more failure,’” said Mostafa sadly.

 As per engineers,the idea of iron being twisted means that this iron can no longer be used in concrete.It’s like breaking someone’s bones and telling them to bend their arm. I called this ‘Spine-Steel’; and this is the name of my thesis.

“Spine- Steel” was solidified as more than just a concept. It had become a reality. Mostafa’s team; Hatem Sabry, Hosam Okasha, Hassan Dorgham, and Omar Bassiouni helped this dream become a reality.

“The memories we made during the days of the project are close to my heart. Until now, we are friends. The WhatsApp group for thesis one is still active and hopefully we will be doing thesis two together.The first pictures and the even the first fights are all memorable,” said Mostafa with a smile.

Mostafa’s advice to students starting their thesis is,“try, try, try, try. As Egyptians, we have so much potential. When we have an open track, we have the potential to succeed. It is our surrounding that makes us doubt ourselves.”