A University of Newcastle engineer has won a major research award for designing computer programs to evaluate the stability of structures such as mine tunnels, road cuttings, building foundations and dams.
Dr Kristian Krabbenhøft, a senior lecturer in the University's Priority Research Centre (PRC) for Geotechnical and Materials Modelling, has received the prestigious 2007 Young Investigator Award, from the Asia-Pacific Association for Computational Mechanics.
"With my PRC colleagues, I have developed new techniques which give faster and more reliable ways to evaluate the stability of structures such as slopes, excavations and tunnels," Dr Krabbenhøft explained.
"Our methods are now being developed into user-friendly computer programs to help engineers design cheaper and safer infrastructure. The programs produce much more reliable estimates than existing tools and make it easier for engineers to analyse the risk of catastrophic failures."
Dr Krabbenhøft's award is one of two received by the PRC this week. PRC Director, Professor Scott Sloan, and colleagues Dr Andrei Lyamin and Dr Richard Merifield, have been awarded the 2006 Telford Premium Prize from the Institute of Civil Engineers in London.
The prize is for a paper about the load capacity of ground anchors, widely used to support electricity transmission towers, harbour walls, road cuttings and buried pipelines.
Professor Sloan said the prize recognised the importance of the research in solving a difficult problem which occurs frequently in practice.
The Priority Research Centre for Geotechnical and Materials Modelling will showcase its research and staff at its official opening this week.
The PRC focuses on the development of new and innovative models to predict the behaviour of geomaterials (soil and rock), metals and composites.
"Australia is experiencing an unprecedented boom in the development of infrastructure such as roads, ports, services and railways," Professor Sloan said.
"The total investment in these projects is measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars, so we need smart methods and new materials to design and build these facilities economically and safely."
The PRC will be officially opened by the University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nicholas Saunders, TODAY Wednesday 5 December at midday, in the Soil Mechanics Laboratories, Building ED, the University of Newcastle Callaghan campus. Dr Kristian Krabbenhøft and Professor Scott Sloan will be available at the opening for comment.