Project title: Analysis Of Reinforced Concrete Structures Employing Artificial Neural Networks
Project abstract: The proposed research aims at developing a radically new stable, robust and computationally efficient structural analysis procedure capable of realistically and objectively predicting the nonlinear response of RC structures. This procedure will be suitable for both research and practical applications and will be capable of effectively solving design optimization and reliability problems which require extensive parametric studies. The proposed procedure will simulate the nonlinear behaviour of each RC element, beam-column joints included, by employing appropriately trained artificial neural networks (ANNs), which require significantly less computational resources compared to more traditional approaches of structural analysis based on the finite element method. For more intricate RC structural configurations (consisting of more than one structural elements), hybrid (NN-FEA) models will be formed to provide a representative model of the problem considered through a new iterative solution strategy. The stability and robustness of the proposed structural analysis method, as well as the validity and objectivity of its predictions, will be ensured through a comparative study of the predicted behaviour of RC frames under static and seismic loads with its counterparts established experimentally and numerically.
Supervisors: Dr Demitrios Cotsovos, Professor Dimitri Val and Dr Nikos D. Lagaros
Project title: The performance of binary and ternary blended concretes.
Project abstract: The resistance of concrete to the penetration of deleterious ionic species such as chlorides from, for example, deicing salt used on roads for winter maintenance purposes, is a crucial factor in determining the long-term performance of concrete. This project will address the problem of assessing the performance (permeation properties) of concrete through the development of novel test methods, specifically, electrical property measurements and a.c. impedance spectroscopy. The programme of work will involve both laboratory and site-based studies together with the development of appropriate theoretical models to explain the empirical data. A wide range of concretes with multi-component cementitious binders will be studied and will comply with current Eurocode specifications.
Supervisor(s): Professor John McCarter and Professor Malcolm Chrisp
Project title: A Novel Microsimulation Approach for Exploring Theory Driven Solutions to Riyadh's Traffic Problems
Project abstract: The aims of this research are to support urban planning, transportation, and traffic congestion management in rapidly growing cities. The city of Riyadh will be taken as an exemplar. The unique challenges of rapidly growing cities, of which Riyadh is a case in point, create the need to firstly understand how transport policies transfer between cultures, and secondly, investigate innovative means by which future transport scenarios can be visualised and modelled. The research investigates the underlying structure of traffic congestion using a combination of theoretical and simulation models. These models will later be applied to mirror specific congestion issues relating to study area. This will enable the study to identify those features of traffic congestion that would apply independently of the underlying network configuration.
Supervisor: Dr Guy Walker
Al-Emami, Omar Hassan Fakhri
Project title: Study of the soil behaviour interaction with underground structures under unsaturated condition
Project abstract: Every year a large number of structures are constructed all over the world in soils for a variety of civil engineering purpose. Soil – structure interaction is an important phenomenon encountered in different geotechnical engineering structures such as retaining wall, tunnels, shallow foundations and pile foundations. One of the most important parameters for the design and safety assessment of these structures in the soil is the ultimate shear strength at the interface between the structure surface and the surrounding soil surface. Several man-made structures are constructed above unsaturated compacted soils. Most of the compacted soils are unsaturated soil. In unsaturated soil, the soil interface can be defined as a layer of unsaturated soil through which stresses are transferred from soil to structure and vice versa. The interface shear strength is sometimes low compared to the shear strength of soil. Therefore, sometimes the design of such structure is controlled by the interface shear strength.
Supervisors: Dr Gabriela Medero & Professor Peter Woodward
Project title: Innovative seismic-resistant steel frame with high post-yield stiffness dampers for drift reduction
Project abstract: Recent major earthquakes have shown that conventional steel frames designed to the latest seismic design regulations can experience extensive damage, resulting in high socio-economic losses and repair costs. As modern societies increasingly demand for a rapid return to occupancy after an earthquake, this project aims to develop a resilient system that can meet this target by means of simple structural details. A dual steel frame, made of a moment-resisting frame equipped with concentric braces, is proposed. Damage minimisation is achieved by increasing the post-yield stiffness of the structure through the installation of stainless steel pins in series with the braces. This project examines the seismic performance of the proposed frame by a full-scale experimental investigation on the stainless steel pins and by means of advanced numerical analyses.
Supervisor: Dr George Vasdravellis
Project title: Response of fibre-reinforced concrete structural elements under high rate loading
Project abstract: This research sets out to investigate the potential benefits stemming from the introduction of fibres into the concrete mix in order to enhance the material properties of structural concrete and improve the response of RC structural elements under high rate loading conditions associated mainly with impact problems. This research will be based on both dynamic Nonlinear Finite Element Analysis (NLFEA) and experimental (drop weight) testing. Based on the findings an existing physical model, currently used for describing the mechanics underlying RC response approaching Ultimate Limit State (ULS) under static and seismic loading, will be further developed in order to realistically describe the response (up to failure) of Fibre Reinforced Concrete (FRC) structural elements (predominantly beams and slabs) under impact loading. The latter will form the basis of a new practical assessment and design method.
Supervisor: Dr Demitrios Cotsovos
Project title: Numerical modelling of wave propagation problems
Project abstract: My research interest is in the area of applied mathematics and computational engineering. I am interested in the efficient simulation of two dimensional wave propagation problems that are modelled by the Helmholtz equation. In particular, I am using high-order polynomial and non-polynomial methods to solve numerically high frequency Helmholtz problems.
Supervisors: Professor Omar Laghrouche & Dr Shadi Mohamed
Project title: Novel finite elements for high frequency ocsillatory problems of electromagnetic waves in the time domain
Project abstract: The research focuses on the solution of electromagnetic waves in the time domain with enriched FEM to capture the oscillatory behaviour in transient wave problems. There are many techniques available, however, the aim is to reduce computational costs viz processing time and memory requirements as compared to conventional discretization methods. Special functions are introduced in the weak formulation setup of the classical FEM, with the interest to capture both slow and highly oscillatory variations in a time dependent problem. The elementary results have shown considerable reduction in CPU costs when compared with non enriched version of the approach for the same problem parameters. Parametric studies are also conducted to investigate the challenges imposed on the suggested method such as conditioning of the system matrix and numerical dispersion. The method is tested for accuracy against an analytical solution where available or with a benchmarking FEM solution with h-refinement.
Supervisors: Dr Shadi Mohamed & Professor Omar Laghrouche
Project title: Natural Flood Management: assessing the impact of woodland creation on flood risk
Project abstract: This PhD project therefore aims to capitalise on the opportunity presented by a new, large-scale woodland creation scheme within the Central Belt of Scotland. Long-term instrumentation and monitoring is proposed for two neighbouring catchments prioritised by the local authority's flood risk management strategy. Whilst one catchment will act as a control, the other will assess the impact of woodland planting extending across ~50% of the catchment and including a wide range of cultivation and surface water management control measures. Data on the natural processes of hydrology, sediment and woody debris will be collected with which to document, map, analyse and understand the dynamic response of these processes to the cultivation, planting and growth.
These field data will be used to develop and validate a hydrologic-hydraulic flood risk model of the catchment pre and post planting, with the intention of simulating a wide range of modelled scenarios.
Supervisors: Dr Heather Haynes & Dr Lindsay Beevers
Project title: Experimental and Numerical Analysis of High Speed Rail Track Infrastructure
Project abstract: The development of high speed rail is taking place across the world and many designers are looking towards the next generation of high rail track infrastructure. This sponsored PhD project is in collaboration with the train manufacturer Alstom and involves the numerical and experimental analysis of different track forms for high-speed railways. Both in-house and commercial software will be used combined with experimental testing in the GRAFT II test facility as appropriate. GRAFT II is a large track testing facility located at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and is capable of testing full scale sections of railway track to the equivalent of many years of track use.
Supervisors: Professor Omar Laghrouche and Dr David Connolly
Project title: Steel concrete composite beams with demountable shear connection and hollow core units-Push out tests
Project abstract: Steel concrete composite beams are commonly used in buildings. The current practice requires the use of headed shear studs which are welded to the steel beam's top flange and embedded into the concrete slab. The monolithic nature of the current conventional shear connection renders the deconstruction of the steel concrete composite beam problematic since, in practise in order to dismantle it, the concrete slab should be demolished around the studs. Deconstruction and reuse of structural components are directly linked to high sustainability standards for building design. The proposed shear connection utilizes precast hollow core units and a steel yielding device to achieve deconstructability and reuse of structural components. Experimental push out tests are performed in order to study the physical behaviour of the proposed shear connection and to evaluate the deconstruction procedure. Numerical modelling and parametric analyses are conducted aiming at proposing a reliable design methodology for the proposed shear connection.
Supervisor: Dr George Vasdravellis
Project title: Demountable shear connection system for steel-concrete composite bridges
Project abstract: In steel-concrete composite bridges, the shear connection system is subjected to cycling loading resulting in deterioration due to fatigue. In the UK, there is an imminent need for repair or replacement of structurally deficient composite bridges. Repair of composite bridges is currently highly problematic due to the monolithic nature of the conventional shear connection system, which requires welded shear studs embedded in the concrete deck. This project will develop a novel demountable shear connection system that will permit off-site prefabrication of the structural components, easy and fast construction and deconstruction procedures, and rapid repair of the composite girders of a bridge.
The project will use full-scale experimental testing and advanced numerical simulations to deliver fundamental knowledge on the behaviour of the novel shear connection system, and a set of reliable design guidelines for practical use.
Supervisors: Dr George Vasdravellis & Dr Demitrios Cotsovos
Project title: Making Better Decisions: Sustainable Flood Planning & Adaptation in the Context of a Changing Climate
Project abstract: Climate change projections suggest that there will be increased flooding in the future, both in terms of frequency and magnitude. In the wake of Storm Desmond, Frank and Eva the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), the Environment Agency and local councils around the country have been approached with planning applications which look to rebuild damaged properties to the same specification, at the same location, in identified floodplains. Simultaneously the pressure for new development has led to permission being granted for development in floodplains, and building regulations stipulate that for disabled access new builds must ensure that the ground level is flush with the surrounding topography. Clearly these drivers lead to a wealth of decision making issues facing the construction industry regarding the planning, design and construction of water resilient houses. This PhD will work directly with Engineering Consultancy (Kaya Consulting) to incorporate climate change impacts directly into sustainable building design best practice.
Supervisors: Professor Lindsay Beevers & Dr Lila Collet
Project title: Managing the sociotechnical risks in infrastructure projects: Sociotechnical perspectives on systems failure
Project abstract: The current research deploys a concept called sociotechnical systems theory to the challenges of managing complex infrastructure projects. Nowadays, as systems/infrastructure projects become larger, more complex, and more highly integrated the cost of failure increases rapidly. This can be observed in failures of electrical power grids, military weapons systems, and space programs among many others. A range of project failures can be attributed to the interaction of people (social) and systems (technical) that is the sociotechnical problems, with infrastructure projects being sociotechnical systems (STS). This study is focused on identifying and analysing the important complex risks in infrastructure projects from a STS perspective; review the available STS Methodologies and assess their suitability for dealing with the issues inherent in infrastructure projects; to revisit the evidence in favour of STS approaches when applied to real work systems in different domains and demonstrate the reliability and validity of the developed methods and approaches within infrastructure projects.
Supervisor: Dr Guy Walker & Dr Pauline Thompson
Project title: Impact of Climate Change on Extreme Flood Events
Project abstract: To evaluate the climate change impacts on future flooding, different hydrological and hydraulic models are fed with downscaled projections of atmospheric variables from global circulation models for range of emission scenarios. A holistic approach to assess the impact of climate change on flood events require cascading three different model components, namely, weather forecast, rainfall-runoff forecast and inundation forecast. For long term prediction, weather forecast component is replaced by the projected climate data which constitute a major source of ambiguity for hydrological and hydraulic modelling. Additionally, there are uncertainties associated with the hydrological and inundation models themselves. Therefore, the source and propagation of cascaded uncertainties need to be comprehensively addressed and quantified. This research seeks to devise a holistic approach to systematically investigate the non-linear interaction of all model components influencing uncertainties associated with impact assessment.
Supervisors: Dr Sandhya Patidar & Professor Gareth Pender
Project title: Simulation of complete geobag revetment failure processes
Project abstract: This research is focused on developing DEM modelling capabilities, to incorporate geobag/water feedback mechanisms using two-way coupled DEM-CFD method, and also to conduct integrated experimental and modelling approaches. The main aim of the PhD is to improve design standards of geobag revetments which protect riverbanks.
The successful development of a numerical modelling using multi-sphere method, will be advanced to the stage where complete failure of a geobag revetment can be well simulated using Discrete Element Modelling (DEM). However, to develop the type of robust design standards required by geobag revetment designers and installers, it is essential to couple hydraulic and geobag conditions, so that the impact of geobag displacements can be fed back into the prevailing water flow conditions. In order to capture this, a coupled CFD-DEM model using two open source softwares LIGGGHTS and OpenFOAM will be applied.
Supervisors: Dr Grant Wright & Professor Martin Crapper
Project title: The Response of Reinforced Concrete (RC) Structures under high rate loading
Project abstract: This research is expected to work towards resolving the limitations in literature associated with describing quantitatively the response of RC structures under high rate loading .The main aim of the PhD is to develop a practical analysis and design method for RC structural elements subjected to impact loading. In order to realistically predict the response of RC structural configurations, the effect of the loading-rate on the dynamic response of RC members under high rate loading is investigated experimentally and numerically .Through the latter, an existing brittle model for describing the behaviour of concrete under varying loading rate will be presented which is in conflict with the conventional adopted concrete model (and attributes ductile characteristics to concrete material behaviour) in literature and is expected to predict the behaviour of concrete at material and structural level close to its true behaviour. It will also express analytically the effect of various parameters associated with the structural properties of RC elements, on mechanics governing the dynamic response. This information will improve the quality of finite element calibrated models and extend their application to the analysis of more complex RC structures such as tunnels, bridges and railway slab-track.
Supervisor: Dr Demitrios Cotsovos
Project title: Future Flood Resilience Adaptation Planning
Project abstract: My PhD is part of the Water Resilient Cities project which aims to assess the impact of Climate Change on flood and drought risk in the UK, accounting for uncertainties related to climatic projections and the modelling framework. It aims to develop adaptation strategies to these risks aligned with stakeholder needs. My project involves researching a new systems model to urban resilience to changing hydro-hazards that allows hydro-hazards/systems feedback. By using a systems based approach to flooding, the critical interactions between human and engineering components can be understood, and what they mean for a place’s vulnerability. The research aims to explore the full dynamics of the urban environment in order to better understand flood resilience and water security.
Supervisors: Dr Lindsay Beevers & Dr Guy Walker
Project title: Assessing riparian buffer strips as a natural flood management measure and the provision of ecosystem services
Project abstract: Natural flood management (NFM) is a prominent topical issue in the UK at present. The concept of NFM is to utilise natural processes and features of the landscape to attenuate flows and reduce flood risk while offering sustainability and multiple benefits. My research aims to ascertain how an established riparian buffer strip (RBS) affects runoff on a hillslope in the upper Tarland Catchment in Aberdeenshire by means of a field experiment, monitoring and hydrological modelling. In assessing the hydrology, land use management and environmental conditions, the feasibility of utilising upland RBS as a NFM measure will be evaluated. Additionally, the role of RBS in ecosystem service provision is considered through further field assessment and will complement the evaluation of RBS suitability as a NFM measure.
Supervisors: Dr Lindsay Beevers, Dr Mark Wilkinson (James Hutton Institute) & Professor Gareth Pender
Project title: Critical velocity effects of high-speed trains
Project abstract: Many problems are associated with high speed trains, especially if constructed on weak, deep soil. High dynamic amplifications occur in the ground beneath the railway track when the train exceeds a certain speed. This speed is known as the critical velocity and the effects include large deflections, track uplift, surface wave formations and resonance in ground layers. It is important to be able to analyse these effects due to their influence on passengers' safety. This research is focused on investigating and modelling critical velocities and ground behaviour using numerical analysis in order to predict and minimise their effects for future projects. The analysis is undertaken using Abaqus commercial software for three-dimensional finite element modelling. The research also includes testing different mitigation models in order to come up with the most effective solutions.
Supervisors: Dr David Connolly & Professor Peter Woodward
Project title: Cloud-Computing Strategies for Sustainable ICT Utilization: A Decision-Making Framework for Non-Expert Smart Building Managers
Project abstract: Virtualization of processing power, storage, and networking applications via cloud computing allows Smart Buildings to operate heavy demand computing resources off premises. While this approach reduces in-house costs and energy use, recent case studies have highlighted complexities in decision-making processes associated with implementing the concept of cloud-computing. This complexity is due to the rapid evolution of these technologies without standardization of approach by those organizations offering cloud-computing provision as a commercial concern. This study defines the term Smart Building as an ICT environment where a degree of system integration is accomplished. Non-expert managers are highlighted as key users of the outcomes from this project given the diverse nature of Smart Buildings' operational objectives. The research project explores cloud solutions for sustainable ICT management in Smart Buildings for non-expert managers. This application of cloud-computing affects numerous types of decision-makers where information and data must be appropriately translated and effectively communicated.
Supervisors: Professor Gareth Pender & Dr David Jenkins
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Project title: Cognitive and affective attributes of motorcycle riding
Project abstract: My research aim at showing how motorcycle safety can be achieved by exploring riders' cognitive and affective attributes and the role it plays in the choices riders make in a dynamic road situation. It analyses how riding behaviours of gap acceptance, lane changing, filtering, risky riding and safe riding are shaped by the selected cognitive and affective attributes. The research outcome will further strengthen the paradigm that explores the socio-technical nature of riders' interaction with the road environment.
Supervisors: Dr Guy Walker & Dr Sarah Payne
Pourfalah Bazkiani, Saeed
Project title: Enhancing the out-of-plane behaviour of masonry infill walls using engineered cementitious composites
Project abstract: This study presents a novel technique for retrofitting of masonry walls against out-of-plane loads. The technique looks at the use of a thin layer of engineered cementitious composite (ECC) to improve the out-of-plane response of masonry walls. To demonstrate the proposed technique, several plain and retrofitted masonry beams were tested under quasi static and high loading rate. Next the nonlinear finite element simulations were carried out to study the underlying mechanisms responsible of specimens. Finally a parametric study undertaken to evaluate the behaviour of ECC-retrofitted masonry infill walls subjected to out-of-plane loads.
Supervisors: Dr B Suryanto, Dr D Cotsovos & Professor J McCarter
Sakic Trogrlic, Robert
Project title: Mainstreaming local knowledge for community- based flood risk management in Malawi
Project abstract: Community- based approaches have increasingly gained significance in disaster risk reduction (DRR) practices, especially in the context of developing world. These approaches take into account local knowledge, capacities and resources. However, the studies focused on local knowledge remain limited to mere knowledge documentation, without concrete approaches outlining how the use of this knowledge could be further integrated into the work of project implementing parties and development of localised policies. Furthermore, the evidence base for local knowledge in terms of its integration with scientific knowledge remains scarce. Hence, the aim of the proposed study is to develop stakeholders' guidelines for improvement of flood risk management strategies through enhanced use and mainstreaming of local knowledge. The research is funded through the Hydro Nation Scholarship from the Scottish Government.
Supervisors: Dr Grant Wright, Professor Adebayo Adeloye, Dr Faidess Mwale (Polytechnic Malawi) & Dr Melanie Duncan (British Geological Survey)
Project title: Smart Cementations Materials for Intelligent Infrastructure
Project abstract: Current global infrastructure is plagued by ageing and deterioration. In the UK alone, for example, approximately half of the £110bn construction output in 2010 was spent on maintenance and refurbishment; a figure that has increased nearly eightfold in 35 years. Demands for an effective structural health monitoring system are therefore more prevalent than ever. This PhD will focus on the development of damage tolerant and smart cement-based material that is able to self-repair after cracking and perform self-diagnosis with regards to cracking and recovery extents.
Supervisor: Dr Benny Suryanto
Project title: Performance of FRP-Strengthened Reinforced Concrete (RC) Columns under Impact Loading
Project abstract: Reinforced concrete (RC) columns in buildings and bridges are critical load bearing members of these structures. These members are mainly designed to support large compressive loads and highly vulnerable to transverse out-of-plane loadings such as blast loads or vehicle impacts. Damage to columns by a colliding vehicle may lead to collapse of a large part or even the whole structure, which these columns support, resulting human injuries/loss of life and significant economic losses.
Since these are a large number of existing RC columns that are at risk of being hit by a vehicle but not sufficiently strong to resist transverse loading caused by such an incident, it is important to develop efficient methods for protecting these columns against vehicle impacts and/or strengthening them to resist loads caused by such impacts.
Recently, the use of innovative materials such as FRPs for external retrofitting and strengthening of existing and new structural members has become more popular in construction practice.
Supervisors: Professor Dimitry Val & Dr Demitrios Cotsovos
Project title: Modelling the ecological response to putative climate change, past and projected.
Project abstract: Flow is widely considered one of the primary drivers of ecological response. Modelling efforts have revealed that rivers of different classes respond differently to such disturbances, with unique ecological responses. This first stage of the research aims to investigate the (currently not well understood) temporal effects through consideration of time-offset flow indicators.
The outputs from the first stage of the research (above) are critical for climate change. Climate change will mean an increase in the frequency and magnitude of flow-generated disturbances. River systems are particularly vulnerable, due to the limited understanding of their overall resilience, as well as the possible implications for water management, ecology and ecosystem services.
Researching these responses focuses on statistical and rainfall-runoff modelling using R-software and GR4J respectively. Climate change will be considered through the downscaling of the UKCP09 climate projections. It is intended that these methods be applied to 3 representative catchments.
Vu, Minh Duc
Project title: A case study assessing the impact of checkdam on grassed swale performance
Project abstract: Urbanization has been considered to be responsible for the increase in peak runoff and total volume of surface water as compared to pre-developed situations. Infrastructural development typically turns pervious areas into impervious ones resulting in the negative influences on the urban water cycle and pressure on drainage systems, e.g. groundwater shortage, subsidence risk or water quality degradation.
Recently more sustainable solutions have been applied. They have shown greater advantages over traditional impervious drainage systems by dealing with the stormwater in a more natural way, i.e. stormwater is not discharged as fast as possible, but retained and gradually discharged to the surrounding soil.
This research will study the quantitative performance of grassed swale in terms of flow attenuation, delaying time and the impact of artificially-built check dam. The swale is located at Riccarton campus, Heriot-Watt University, lies along the local road, accommodates medium level of traffic flux and conveys stormwater from an area of around 500m2.
Supervisors: Dr Scott Arthur & Dr Grant Wright
Project title: Optimisation of railway track infrastructure
1. Railway track foundation
2. Principal stress rotation
3. Triaxial test
4. Asphalt-Ballast foundation
Supervisors: Dr David Connolly & Professor Peter Woodward