Civil and Environmental Engineering

Examining the use of public transport for trips other than commuting by those with low-income

Supervisor

Dr Subeh Chowdhury
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG013

This study will determine how well public transport (transit) networks are able to provide for trips other than commuting (work-based) for low-income neighbourhoods. The student is expected to determine accessibility measures using publically available information.  

Evolving floodplains: Quantifying flood risk following extreme events

Supervisor

Dr Edwin Baynes, Dr Heide Friedrich
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG014

River flooding is a major hazard across the world, with large populations and key infrastructure located on dynamic floodplains. Floodplains evolve their morphology to the river discharge and input sediment supply, which are rarely constant through time. Following extreme events, such as earthquakes or major storms, floodplains can receive heightened levels of sediment supply for a prolonged period, yet the understanding of how this impacts floodplain dynamics remains relatively poorly constrained.

This project will advance this understanding using flume experiments, where a small-scale river channel (12 m long, 2.4 m wide) will be subjected to realistic scenarios of extreme events under controlled conditions. The behaviour of the river channel will be quantified using Digital Elevation Models collected during the experiments. By reducing the spatial scale of the braided river system in the flume, we also accelerate the temporal scale of evolution, allowing us to observe and quantify the behaviour of the braided river system and calculate changes in flood risk as a result.

Requirements: An enthusiasm to understand environmental issues and researching their impact on rivers. You will also be keen to spend time in the laboratory working with the micro-scale braided river system. Basic experience of using 3D topographic data (DEMs, point clouds etc.) would be a benefit but not essential, as full training will be provided as part of the scholarship. This project is open to any student who has an interest in geomorphology, river engineering or natural hazards. You’ll be part of a growing research team that values diversity and creativity (https://water.auckland.ac.nz).

Wood accumulations and their interactions with the river bed

Supervisor

Dr Diego Ravazzolo, Dr Heide Friedrich
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG015

Despite its the positive ecological role, wood in river systems can represent a risk to in-channel infrastructure. During extreme floods, it can be transported and accumulated on bridges, changing in flow behaviour and interacting with the river bed. This project aims to evaluate interactions among wood, sediment and flow at a critical cross section. Flume experiments take place at the Water Engineering Laboratory at the Newmarket Campus. The project will allow the student to be involved in a multidisciplinary project, and better understand how to deal with natural hazards in New Zealand.

Skills needed: Enthusiasm, creativity and keen to have fun. Some analysis may be done with MATLAB or R. There will be opportunities to learn more about GIS, remote sensing, Structure from Motion technique and so on.

Student background: This project is open to any student, who has an interest river engineering, fluvial geomorphology and natural hazards. In addition, you will be part of a growing research team that values diversity and creativity (http://water.auckland.ac.nz).

How can fine sediment infiltration processes be useful to river restoration?

Supervisor

Dr Diego Ravazzolo, Dr Heide Friedrich
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG016

The shape of a river is mainly due to the interaction between water and sediments. Some recent studies suggest that bed forms change shape during successive floods as a function of hydrograph duration and magnitude and sediment mixture. The study’s aim is to improve our knowledge on fine sediment infiltration, the prediction of bedform evolution, their geometric characteristics and their relationship with flood events. The study could be of crucial importance for river restoration projects and bedload transport predictions. Experiments take place in our new state-of-the-art Water Engineering Laboratory at the Newmarket Campus.

Skills needed: Enthusiasm, creativity and keen to have fun. Some analysis may be done with MATLAB or R. There will be opportunities to learn more about GIS, ADVs, remote sensing, Structure from Motion technique and so on.

Student background: This project is open to any student, who has an interest river engineering, fluvial geomorphology, sedimentology. In addition, you will be part of a growing research team that values diversity and creativity (http://water.auckland.ac.nz).

Volcanic tsunamis: Experimental modelling of the entrance of pyroclastic flows into the sea

Supervisor

Dr Colin Whittaker
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG017

Volcanic tsunamis can be generated by source mechanisms such as underwater eruptions, entrance of pyroclastic flows into the sea, column or flank collapse. Very recently, on 22nd December 2018, the collapse of the flank of Anak Krakatau volcano (Indonesia) generated tsunami waves that resulted in over 400 fatalities. This volcano is also known for its 1883 eruption, when it produced massive pyroclastic flows that caused large tsunami waves and claimed over 36,000 lives. Although infrequent, volcanic tsunamis have accounted for almost 25% of those killed directly by volcanic eruptions since 1000 A.D. The destructive potential and unpredictability of such waves highlight the need for improving our understanding of the phenomena.  Due to the difficulties in monitoring volcanic activity and the complexities of the processes, there is little field data available, and they lack details. Hence, the advances in understanding mainly involve experimental, analytical and numerical studies.

This project involves experimental modelling of the entrance of pyroclastic flows into the sea. The motivation is to investigate the efficiency of the mechanism to produce waves and how this efficiency depends on the initial conditions of the source. The experiments are undertaken at the state-of-the-art fluid  mechanics  laboratory at the University of Auckland. A granular column of glass beads is released from a reservoir into a water-filled flume. The reservoir is connected to air through a porous plate so that the column is fluidised. The experiments will explore the effects of internal properties of the flow, such as particle size and density, on the wave generation potential. 

A virtual walk through a catchment

Supervisor

Dr Asaad Shamseldin
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG018

This project focuses on the development of virtual and augmented reality experiments and tools to support teaching of overland flow and drainage.

The role of traditional indigenous knowledge in supporting climate change resilience

Supervisor

Dr Asaad Shamseldin
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG019

This project focuses on conducting a comparative study in different parts of the world looking at how the traditional indigenous knowledge was in the context of climate change and water resources management. This project is mainly a desktop study.

Adhesives in timber engineering

Supervisor

Dr Gary Raftery
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG020

There is at present considerable interest worldwide in the increased usage of wood and engineered wood products in construction. There is at present a lack of documented technical data in relation to the durability performance of bonded laminated timber in wet environments with fast growing species. The objective of this study is to help address this knowledge void. Delamination, compression shear and fracture energy testing will be conducted in this research and the student will be incorporated into an active research team.

Reinforcement of holes in timber structures

Supervisor

Dr Gary Raftery
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG021

There is significant interest and developmental work in the construction of tall timber structures. In such buildings, considerable service ducting and plumbing needs to be facilitated and oftentimes holes are then required in the structural elements. Minimal documented guidance is available for structural engineers dealing with such situations. This research examines the effects of multiple holes in laminate veneer lumber beams.

The successful candidate will gain good practical skills and develop a solid attention to detail. The student will also develop competent communication skills and a strong awareness of health and safety while being incorporated into a team of more senior researchers.

Hybrid engineered wood elements

Supervisor

Dr Gary Raftery
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG022

Fibre-reinforced polymers (FRPs) are an accepted material by structural engineers for the strengthening of structural elements. With increasing environmental concerns, further emphasis is being placed on the use of sustainable construction materials such as timber.

This project will allow the successful candidate to become involved and gain experience with experimental testing and numerical modelling using computer analysis as well as the development of theoretical models to accurately predict the behaviour of hybrid composites using wood and secondary materials.

BIM/VR/AR and cold-formed steel structures

Supervisor

Assoc. Prof. James Lim
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG023

Cold-formed steel structures lend themselves very well to BIM. Currently we are doing laser scanning of cold-formed steel buildings. This then leads to the opportunity to explore VR/AR as a tool to help industry accept cold-formed steel construction more easily – there are many engineers and trades people unfamiliar with cold-formed steel and the digital information provided can make them feel more comfortable.

The use of cold-formed steel structures for rapid reconstruction following disasters

Supervisor

Assoc. Prof. James Lim
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG024

Cold-formed steel structures have become increasingly common over the last decade, with advantages of buildability, rapid and fast construction. While similar in usage to timber, there are still barriers to the use of cold-formed steel in disasters and disaster recovery. This project assesses if there is a space for cold-formed steel to be used and to help overcome the technical challenges. Laboratory tests and finite element analyses can be part of the project, as well interaction with the cold-formed steel industry and the Red Cross.

Characterisation of New Zealand basins and assessment of potential earthquake amplification effects

Supervisor

Assoc. Prof. Liam Wotherspoon
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG025

Recent earthquakes across New Zealand have highlighted the effect of the varying depth of soils within basins on the amplification of earthquake ground motions. This project will involve a combination of field investigation and analysis to understand the variation in soil profile characteristics across a selection of New Zealand basins. This will be used to improve the classification for potential amplification and design.

Exposure of New Zealand ports to natural hazards

Supervisor

Assoc. Prof. Liam Wotherspoon
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG026

Ports are a critical part of New Zealand's transport system, facilitating the vast majority of freight movement and providing a key link between both the North and South Islands. This project will focus on the assessment of the exposure of port facilities and the components within these facilities to a range of natural hazards that affect New Zealand. Research will make use of existing understanding of the performance of port components, and build expertise in the use of geospatial analysis tools.

Characterisation and assessment of stopbank networks

Supervisor

Assoc. Prof. Liam Wotherspoon
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG027

In New Zealand, flooding is the country’s most frequent natural hazard, responsible for the greatest regular economic loss. Over 4,500 km of stopbanks provide flood protection across New Zealand. This project will work with regional councils to develop an improved understanding of the characteristics and condition of stopbanks across the country. This research will involve a combination of both historic data collection and field investigations, with a focus on geotechnical and hydrological characteristics.

Use of artificial intelligence to identify earthquake damage in unreinforced masonry buildings

Supervisor

Dr Lucas Hogan
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG028

One of the great challenges in the moments following an earthquake is understanding where to deploy limited emergency services and engineering expertise. If a large geographic area is effected this problem becomes increasingly acute. One solution in helping to direct where to direct emergency services is the use of cell phone and drone footage to locate collapsed or partially collapsed buildings. This project will utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to train a neural network to identify damage to unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings. Students will work with the University of Auckland and overseas collaborators to use images of damaged URM buildings for training of neural networks to correctly identify damage states of URM buildings.

Development of structural teaching models for steel and concrete buildings

Supervisor

Dr Lucas Hogan
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG029

This project will help to develop teaching models for Civil 313 to teach fundamental behaviour of steel and concrete members. The project will use materials such as rubber and polystyrene to provide a hands on activity to teach difficult concepts to visual such as development length, lateral torsional buckling, and local buckling. This project is well suited for a student who enjoys working with their hands and problem solving.

Up-cycling of waste plastics

Supervisor

Assoc. Prof. Naresh Singhal
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG030

In recent years the concept of “New Plastics Economy” has been proposed to achieve better economic and environmental outcomes while continuing to harness the many benefits of plastic packaging. To achieve this vision technologies are needed for reusing the millions of tonnes of plastics ending up in landfills, or those littering the globe. In this project we will focus on new biotechnologies to valorise mixed waste plastics. The student will work with a team of engineers, microbiologists and chemists.

Seismic behaviour of bridges with unequal pier heights

Supervisor

Assoc. Prof. Nawawi Chouw
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG031

The supporting soil along the bridge does not have uniform developments and properties. Consequently, it is not uncommon that the bridge piers have different heights. In strong earthquakes each of these bridge piers will interact differently with the local soil. These unequal interactions will significantly determine the seismic performance of a bridge. This research will focus on the influence of different pier heights on the seismic behaviour of bridges in strong earthquakes.

Requirement: Knowledge in structural dynamics.

Dynamic behaviour of natural fibre reinforced polymer-concrete structures

Supervisor

Assoc. Prof. Nawawi Chouw
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG032

Because of limited resource and awareness of conservation, engineers are looking for new and eco-friendly construction materials. In addition, the disadvantage of conventional RC composites or steel construction, as a result of a long-term impact of corrosion, should be avoided. Since reinforcement steel is not used, the structure has less mass. Consequently, the impact of the dynamic load can be significantly reduced due to less activated inertia forces. Fibre reinforced concrete has also higher damping in comparison to conventional concrete. The fibre will not only control the crack width but also ensure a more uniformly distributed development of cracks. Consequently, severe damage to structures can be more likely avoided. In this research the impact of dynamic loadings on natural fibre reinforced polymer-concrete composites will be investigated.

Requirement: Knowledge in structural dynamics

Performance of storage tanks in earthquakes

Supervisor

Assoc. Prof. Nawawi Chouw
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG033

Tanks are often founded on weak compressive soil due to their proximity to a harbour and rivers. In strong earthquakes this soil condition will cause a strong interaction between tank and the supporting soil. The research will focus on the influence of the soil and the earthquake characteristics on the tank performance.

Requirement: Knowledge in structural dynamics

Developing VR assets for realistic earthquake simulations

Supervisor

Dr Quincy Ma, Dr Nasser Giacaman
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG034

This project is part of a joint departmental collaboration looking to develop more realistic earthquake simulations for public education as well as informing technical research. The research use models in physics-engine based environment that to simulate rigid body dynamics of free-standing or weakly restrained objects in earthquakes. We are seeking a summer intern students to develop more assets (3D models) to simulate different scenarios, as well as improving the overall simulation environment in terms of precision, accuracy, and broad applicability.

This project would suit students with strong digital and programming skills. Experience with programmes such as Blender and Unity would also be an advantage.

Datasets of past structural component tests

Supervisor

Dr Rick Henry
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG035

This project will involve collating datasets of past tests of structural components. Collated data will be achieved on DesignSafe-CI.

Students will gain experience in the seismic performance of different structural components as well as how to analyse and organise test data.

Development of bicycle scenarios in VR for non-cyclists

Supervisor

Dr Subeh Chowdhury
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG036

This project will extend the findings from a current final year research project. The students are developing a basic scenario in VR. This project will require the basic scenario to be extended to incorporate other decision-making points and include acceleration/deceleration of the bike- using the trainer. The student is required to have programming skills.

A laboratory investigation into wave reflection off coastal seawalls

Supervisor

Dr Tom Shand, Dr Colin Whittaker
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG037

Seawalls are widely used in New Zealand and the South Pacific to protect land from coastal erosion and inundation. This form of hazard mitigation is becoming more widespread as development intensifies along coastlines and rising sea levels put increased erosive pressure on the shoreline. However, wave reflection off seawalls can cause adverse effects on the environment through increased turbulence and scour, on communities through reflection affecting boating and surfing amenity and on the seawall itself by undermining and outflanking. Consent applications are more frequently being declined on the basis of potential adverse effect, however, our knowledge of wave reflection off seawall structures is limited and insufficient for basing such decisions on.

This project will use scale physical model testing in the UoA wave flume to measure wave reflection off seawall structures. A range of revetment slopes will be tested and cross-shore positions from deeper water with unbroken waves impacting, within the surf zone with partially broken waves and within the upper beach/swash zone. Results will contribute to new predictive models and guidance on wave reflection including effects of relative seawall position.

Interest in coastal processes, engineering and hydraulics is essential for this project. Strong mathematical skills (and coding in Matlab) will be an advantage.

Investigation into the effects of seawalls on adjacent beaches

Supervisor

Dr Tom Shand, Assoc. Prof. Giovanni Coco
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG038

Seawalls are widely used in New Zealand and the South Pacific to protect land from coastal erosion and inundation. This form of hazard mitigation is becoming more widespread as development intensifies along coastlines and rising sea levels put increased erosive pressure on the shoreline. However, seawalls are known to have adverse effects on adjacent beaches by inducing additional or increased erosion, termed end effects. This phenomenon was studied during the 90s and early 2000s but findings were inconclusive and robust guidance including the type and position of the seawall is not available.

Consent applications for seawalls are more frequently being declined on the basis of potential adverse effect, however, our knowledge of seawall end effects is limited and insufficient for basing such decisions on.

This project will initiate new research into the effects of seawalls on adjacent beaches by identifying and quantifying effects on recently constructed structures on adjacent beaches. The project will be desktop and field-based using GoogleEarthEngine to identify seawalls constructed during the satellite era and to track shoreline locations adjacent to the seawalls through time. Seawalls in the Auckland Region will be visited and physical characteristics of the seawall including type, materials, geometry, cross-shore location will be recorded. From these data sets existing empirical relationships between seawall length and end effect length will be augmented by additional seawall parameters to increase the accuracy of predictions with new guidance on seawall end effects produced.

Interest in coastal processes and coastal engineering is essential for this project. Strong GIS skills will be an advantage.  

Development of augmented reality methods for visualising coastal hazards and mitigation

Supervisor

Dr Tom Shand, Dr Vicente Gonzalez
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG039

Coastal hazards including coastal erosion, inundation and wave overtopping are threatening coastal communities, local government assets and major infrastructure in NZ. LGNZ estimate $5.1B in council infrastructure may be at risk from sea level rise of up to 1m, a likely scenario within the 21st century.

While models exist for predicting the extent of future hazard, outputs to date have generally been GIS-based and therefore difficult for community and decision-makers to visualise and accept. Likewise, the options for mitigation are often presented as engineering cross-sections of plans and therefore difficult to envisage, refine and select.

This study intends to develop a methodology for visualising 3D models of coastal landscapes (captured previously using UAV) by virtual reality/augmented reality technology, visualise current and future hazards and options for mitigation. These could include beach replenishment, rock revetments, concrete seawalls or similar. As a result, better uptake and acceptance from stakeholder and communities can be achieved.

Applicant should have an interest in coastal hazards, engineering and community engagement. Strong computer science skills will be an advantage, but it is not compulsory.

Current Māori geothermal resources and their impact on tangata whenua

Supervisor

Dr Tūmanako Fa’aui
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG040

This is a community-based research project that gives the opportunity for a Māori geothermal place of significance to be assessed under a culturally informed decision-making tool. The focus will be to identify historical and current issues, as well as future prospects regarding Māori and their relationship to geothermal resources. This will be carried out by way of interviewing members of the local community with specific knowledge of geothermal resources and their uses, e.g. whānau, local council, developers etc. The outcomes from these interviews will contribute towards an impact assessment of cultural and community sustainability for a geothermal plant in the Rotorua/Taupō region. The project will ideally require a Māori researcher with local Māori knowledge and connections.

BIM for education: 4D simulation of a railway bridge

Supervisor

Dr Yang Zou
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG041

The project is to establish a 4D building information model (BIM) for an existing 3D bridge BIM. A step-by-step instruction video will then be prepared according the 4D modelling process for education purpose. Students with knowledge in civil engineering or skills on BIM will be preferred.

Forestry slash: what happens with trees that fall into a river?

Supervisor

Dr Heide Friedrich, Dr Jon Tunnicliffe
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG042

Forestry slash: Woody debris in river systems represent a risk to infrastructure as well as the ecosystem. This project studies woody debris in domestic river systems, which often leads to blockages and changes in flow behaviour at critical cross sections during flood events. Experiments take place in our new state-of-the-art Water Engineering Laboratory at the Newmarket Campus - observing the influence of woody debris accumulations on sediment movement at critical cross sections. The project will allow the student to be involved in an ecohydraulics project, and better understand how to deal with natural hazards in New Zealand.

Skills needed: Enthusiasm, creativity and keen to have fun. Some analysis may be done with MATLAB. There will be opportunities to learn more about GIS, remote sensing, use of drones for the research and so on.

Student background: This project is open to any BEng or BSc student, who has an interest river engineering and natural hazards. You’ll be part of a growing research team that values diversity and creativity (https://water.auckland.ac.nz).

Mātauranga Māori: Our changing rivers

Supervisor

Dr Heide Friedrich, Dr Edwin Baynes, Dr Dan Hikuroa
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG086

Pressures on rivers are increasing, not only when it comes to freshwater quality, but also to the space provided to river networks. As a result, understanding river dynamics and their management will become increasingly critical in the future.

The Māori saying “Rivers are the veins of Papatūānuku, Earth Mother, and the water in them is her lifeblood,” exemplifies an alternative approach to treating rivers purely as conveyer belts for our water infrastructure.

What does this mean for how we deal with rivers as engineers? Is New Zealand ready to incorporate mātauranga Māori in its engineering practices? How does this compare with international perspectives? What are our capabilities when it comes to river engineering, looking at it from a Māori worldview? A local Whanganui proverb says “I am the river and the river is me.”, respecting the river as a “living whole”, rather than trying to carve it up. What can river engineers learn from the mātauranga Māori worldview?

In this project we will employ an inter-disciplinary approach, fusing hydraulic engineering, geomorphology and mātauranga Māori to prepare a guide on how scientific processes and interactions that drive changes in the river system can be presented not only from an engineering perspective, but enhanced by integrating mātauranga Māori concepts.

Skills needed: Enthusiasm, creativity and interest in mātauranga Māori.

Student background: This project is open to any student, who has an interest in the environment, river engineering or river science and mātauranga Māori. You’ll be part of a growing research team that values diversity and creativity."

Architectural applications of visual representation

Supervisor

Prof. Jason Ingham
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG087

This project involves the applications of Virtual and Augmented Reality to seismic risk and retrofit of architecturally significant buildings, and is proposed as a cross-disciplinary collaboration between architecture and earthquake engineering. The focus will be on use of drone technology and 3D laser scanning to generate point cloud date for use monitoring and simulating the threats posed to architecturally-significant buildings from natural hazards.

AI modelling of water quality in NZ waterways

Supervisor

Assoc. Prof. Naresh Singhal, Dr Joerg Simon Wicker
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG088

The deterioration in the quality of waterways the world over is well documented. To reverse this trend tools are needed to inform decisions relating to the amount of investment, where to target the investment etc. In this project we propose to develop an intelligent decision support framework to enable better decision making using incomplete and uncertain datasets of water quality measures. This multi-disciplinary project will suit students interested in artificial intelligence and numerical modelling of environmental phenomena. Expertise in programming languages such as MATLAB, Python or OpenFOAM is essential. Familiarity with artificial intelligence methods is a plus.

Deciphering bacterial responses to environmental stimuli that promote enzyme production

Supervisor

Assoc. Prof. Naresh Singhal, Dr Gavin Lear, Dr Ivanhoe Leung, Dr Wei-Qin Zhuang
Faculty of Engineering
Project code: ENG089

We have recently developed a new strategy using neurochemicals, oxygen modulation, or oxidants to stimulate microorganisms to rapidly degrade pharmaceuticals and personal care products by overproducing active enzymes. Our goal is to understand how these stimuli stimulate enzyme production. To achieve this, in this project we will examine the metabolites and proteins produced, along with the change in microbial community composition. The project will suit a student with a background in bioinformatics, systems biology, or protein evolution.