Clement Hiel wins prestigious American innovation prize


The Belgian engineer Clement Hiel has won the Tibbetts Award, a prestigious American prize for innovation. He received the prize for the design of a radar tower made of composite materials for the American Air Force.

Clement Hiel, who comes from Melsele in Eastern Flanders, is a professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). In the eighties he worked for NASA, the American aerospace organisation. In 2001 he set up the material technology and development company Composite Support & Solutions Inc. in the United States. This company specialises in the development of new products based on composite materials. A composite is a blend of different synthetic materials, to achieve better characteristics than the main or separate materials alone.

The radar tower for which Clement Hiel has received the innovation prize can be assembled up to eight times faster than normal. The entire system clicks together like Lego blocks, the connections do not rust and the tower weighs considerably less than other radar towers.