Civil and Environmental Engineering

High fly ash content in concrete structures

Supervisor

Enrique del Rey Castillo

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG015

The inconsistency of the materials used to manufacture fly ash in New Zealand compromises the reliability of concrete structures. An effort is needed to characterize the range of fly ashes being used in the country.

The project will be undertaken in collaboration with the University of Canterbury, whose concrete technology facilities and scholars are of the highest standards.

Development of robust cladding materials for the construction industry

Computer modelling of FRP anchors

Supervisor

Enrique del Rey Castillo

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG016

Fibre Reinforced Polymer (FRP) materials are widely used for strengthening of existing structures. FRP anchors are one such material but, despite its extensive use, no design guideline. Experimental results are available in the literature on the behaviour of FRP anchors, but These results however are inconsistent. To experimentally obtain the necessary results to develop a design procedure would be too expensive and time consuming. A computer model is therefore necessary to investigate the full range of parameters that can have an influence on the behaviour of FRP anchors.

Building Information Modelling in the context of bridges

Supervisor

Hugh Morris
James Lim

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG017

This research will consider the use of computer aided modelling for bridges. Generally, structures such as bridges can be modelled in 3-D in a computer, and the same model can then be used in a variety of contexts. Examples include; using a 3-D printer to print the bridge and then testing the bridge in a wind tunnel; using the computer model of the bridge to perform frequency analyses; using the computer model to perform finite element simulations.

Currently a model of a bridge exists and also one of the Sky Tower. The work is in collaboration with University of Koln with whom there is an internship agreement with a number of German intern students coming to New Zealand each year, with whom the summer scholar can interact.

Fire behaviour of cold-formed steel structures

Supervisor

James Lim

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG018

Cold-formed steel structures (often used for warehouses / supermarkets etc) can be susceptible to fire collapse. To this end, two cold-formed steel buildings have been tested in fire, one a portal frame and the other a truss portal.

This link describes the fire tests on the portal frame.

This project would involve analysing the data of the truss portal with a view to providing recommendations to the engineering community of their design.

Is there a need for increased exposure to mātauranga Māori within the civil engineering degree?

Supervisor

Tūmanako Fa’aui

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG019

This project will review the current core civil and environmental engineering curriculum, identifying present mātauranga Māori content and identifying areas, opportunities for, and benefits and disadvantages of inclusion of additional mātauranga Māori content. The student will interview fellow students, teaching staff, industry representatives and iwi as part of their research.

Ideally would require a Māori student or student with understanding of tikanga and te ao Māori.

Pre-treatment strategies for reticulated wastewater

Supervisor

Tūmanako Fa’aui

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG020

Many rural communities rely on decentralised or on-site methods of wastewater storage, treatment, and effluent disposal. Whilst viable in most situations, these systems can be problematic for Māori communities, especially marae, when there are failures or complications in the operation of these wastewater systems – due to the cultural implications around water and human waste.

This project will investigate potential options to mitigate negative effects of on-site treatment, including pre-treatment and alternative on-site treatment methods.

Project would ideally require a Māori student or student with understanding of tikanga and te ao Māori.

Investigating the effects of current farming practices on the health of the Waikato river

Supervisor

Tūmanako Fa’aui

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG021

This project will look at the effects that current farming practices have on the water quality of the Waikato river. Sustainable alternatives to improve the water quality will also be assessed.

This project ideally would require a Māori student or student with understanding of tikanga and te ao Māori, as the cultural implications for local iwi will also be incorporated, due to the Waikato river holding special significance to the identity of the Tainui iwi.

The impact of car-sharing on public transport ridership

Supervisor

Subeh Chowdhury

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG022

This study investigates the change in ridership of public transport by making car-sharing available. The University of Auckland’s Newmarket campus has a number of options for public transport. People can choose to arrive by bus or train, both situated at close proximity to the campus. However, many staff and students choose to park at Newmarket. The study will investigate how people mode choice can change given the ability of a firm to provide car-sharing for their staff and students. By using the MyCarYourRental website, people at Newmarket can make their car available for use by others, while earning a small income.

How the new engineering building is being built? A virtual reality journey

Supervisor

Vicente Gonzalez

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG023

This research is part of the Visible Engineering project. The purpose is to develop a hyper-realistic virtual reality experience of the construction processes involved with the new engineering building, so students/academics and others users can navigate through the preliminary stages of the building construction execution and make "virtual" decisions to manage its development and potential performance using gaming elements. Students undertaking this project will have access to the Engineering VR/AR lab and to the construction site in Grafton road. In addition, they have to be willing to program, develop code and prototype the VR experience, with the support of the Engineering VR/AR lab team.

Walking-through the new engineering Building using VR and BIM

Supervisor

Vicente Gonzalez

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG024

This research is part of the Visible Engineering project. The purpose is to develop an hyper-reealistic virtual reality experience simulating a walkthrough of the new engineering building and its facilities. So students/academics and others users can navigate through the building and interact with the future facilities in a virtual reality environment. Students undertaking this project will have access to the Engineering VR/AR lab and the BIM models of the new building, which will enable the creation of 3D geometry of the building that is the basis for the development of the virtual reality environment. In addition, they have to be willing to program, develop code and prototype the VR experience, with the support of the Engineering VR/AR lab team.

Structural analysis and design of multi-storey CFS-framed building with seismic damage-resistant system: Nonlinear pushover and time-history analysis

Supervisor

Charles Clifton

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG025

In collaboration with industry, the objective of this research is to demonstrate compliance of a new proprietary seismic damage-resistant system with Clause B1 of NZBC for multi-storey cold-formed steel (CFS) framed buildings and develop and publish corresponding design and analysis guidelines to aid design engineers in practice.

This project involves:

1. Run nonlinear pushover analyses iteratively until the required inter-storey drift (2.5%) and ESM base shears required by NZS 1170.5: 2004 have been accomplished by altering the locations and numbers of SDRS devices at different floor levels;
2. Complete a series of time-history analyses using the modal superposition method (FNA) with a minimum of seven ground motion records selected and scaled for the building location in accordance with NZS 1170.5: 2004 and then determine the equivalent ductility factor for each principal direction based on the average base shear;
3. Compare the calculated equivalent ductility factor with the initial assumption and go back and iterate if necessary; and
4. Prepare and publish a technical report with the conclusions and recommended design and analysis procedures through industry bodies such as HERA/NASH.

Structural testing procedures and datasets

Supervisor

Rick Henry

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG026

This project will support QuakeCoRE Technology Platform 1- large-scale laboratories.

This will include assisting with large-scale structure tests, developing procedures to collect and archive experimental data, collating and archiving historical datasets, and creating lab skills videos.

Enthusiasm for physical testing and lab work is essential. Candidates with software coding or video editing skills would also be suitable.

Uplift forces on timber decks due to wave impacts

Supervisor

Colin Whittaker

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG027

Due to climate change many wharfs and boardwalks around Auckland are increasingly inundated during extreme events. When these structures are inundated considerable forces can be applied to the decking timber. Currently there is no method of quantifying the uplift forces on the decking timber. Therefore, it is hard to appropriately size fixings.

This project will involve a series of wave flume experiments to quantify the uplift forces exerted by waves on different deck structures. Time permitting, other coastal hazards such as overtopping and runup on natural beaches and dune systems may also be investigated.

Interest in fluid mechanics and hydraulics is essential for this project. Strong mathematical skills (and coding in Matlab) will be an advantage.

Active fluid mechanics learning: Targeting threshold concepts using physical experiments

Supervisor

Colin Whittaker

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG028

Fluid dynamics is an interesting and very visual subject, where learning can be enhanced through laboratory experiments. Although some changes have been made to the delivery of certain concepts, most ‘laboratory’ sessions remain formulaic and don’t intentionally target those threshold concepts that students find most challenging. This engineering education research project will build on previous research to develop active learning activities in the Faculty of Engineering’s new multi-disciplinary learning spaces.

The project will involve the design, construction and pilot study of different interactive experiments, particularly focusing on challenging topics in hydrostatics, buoyancy and fluid dynamics. Feedback from the pilot study will inform any modifications to the experiments, and the links between these activities and assessment. The end goal of this project is to roll out these experiments into future iterations of the CIVIL 230 course.

Interest in fluid mechanics and hydraulics is essential for this project. An enthusiasm for teaching will be an advantage.

Testing the elevator analogy: Visualisation of wave impacts on a seawall

Supervisor

Colin Whittaker

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG029

Recent research has demonstrated that wave loadings on a vertical wall may be approximated by modifying a hydrostatic calculation to account for the vertical acceleration of the fluid (the ‘elevator’ analogy). However, experimental and numerical data of the fluid motion in the vicinity of the wall are not currently available.

This project (a collaboration with researchers from the Department of Engineering Science) will involve a series of flow visualisation experiments in a small wave flume wave flume experiments to quantify the fluid velocity and acceleration at the wall, as well as the horizontal force exerted on the wall. These results will demonstrate the applicability of the elevator analogy as a simple design tool for coastal structures. Extensions to overtopping scenarios and other geometries may be included.

Interest in fluid mechanics and hydraulics is essential for this project. Strong mathematical skills (and coding in Matlab) will be an advantage.

Adhesives in Timber Engineering

Supervisor

Dr. Gary Raftery

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG030

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.

Skills required: Good practical skills for experimental work. Attention to safety awareness. Knowledge of material behaviour. Competent in computer analysis and data processing. Good communication skills required.

Reinforcement of Holes in Timber Structures

Supervisor

Dr. Gary Raftery

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG031

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.

Skills required: Good practical skills with sound attention to detail. Competent communication skills and awareness of health and safety.

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

Supervisor

Lucas Hogan

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG032

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 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.

Seismic response of reinforced concrete beams with single crack

Supervisor

Ken Elwood

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG033

Skills required: Enthusiasm and interest

During the Christchurch and Kaikoura Earthquakes, reinforced concrete (RC) beams of certain multi-storey buildings developed a single-localized crack at the beam-column interface. Investigations showed that the single crack case was a result of the presence of terminated secondary bars in the beams, close to the column face.

Due to lack of experimental data on such beams, there is insufficient knowledge on their seismic response.

This experimental program has been developed to study seismic response of RC beams dominated by single crack behaviour. Results from this program will be used in developing recommendations related to seismic assessment of existing buildings with such beams.

Development of a Graphical User Interface for modelling of seismic site response

Supervisor

Liam Wotherspoon

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG034

Seismic site response focusses on assessing the effect of the near-surface soil profile on the shaking characteristics at the ground surface. These characteristics can be used as input into seismic design of buildings and other infrastructure, with site-specific studies of this kind now more commonplace. This project aims to (1) develop a Graphical User Interface (GUI) using the Octave software (open source software similar to Matlab) to carry out site response analysis; (2) investigate the influence of a range of soil profile and earthquake record characteristics on ground surface shaking characteristics.

Skills: General coding, Matlab coding, interest in earthquake/geotechnical engineering

Benefits of exposure to traditional Māori architecture/buildings in understanding basic structural engineering concepts

Supervisor

James Lim
Tumanako Faaui

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG035

This research will consider the structural engineering content of Year 2 Civil Engineering, with a view to developing digital content that explains basic structural engineering concepts in the context of traditional Maori buildings. It is anticipated that having real life examples may improve understanding of the basic concepts.

Delivery could be in this form (username JLIM)

Ideally would require a Māori student or student with understanding of tikanga and te ao Māori. Opportunities to laserscan traditional buildings as part of the digital content exist, for if the summer scholar wishes to explore in this direction.

Fire behaviour of cold-formed steel structures

Supervisor

James Lim

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG036

Cold-formed steel structures

Cold-formed steel structures (often used for warehouses / supermarkets etc) can be susceptible to fire collapse. To this end, two cold-formed steel buildings have been tested in fire, one a portal frame and the other a truss portal. This website describes the fire tests on the portal frame.


This project would involve analysing the data of the truss portal with a view to providing recommendations to the engineering community of their design.

Structural analysis and design of multi-storey CFS-framed building with seismic damage-resistant system: desktop study and initial modelling

Supervisor

Charles Clifton

James Lim

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG037

In collaboration with industry, the objective of this research is to demonstrate compliance of a new proprietary seismic damage-resistant system with Clause B1 of NZBC for multi-storey cold-formed steel (CFS) framed buildings and develop and publish corresponding design and analysis guidelines to aid design engineers in practice.

This project involves the following:

1. Undertake a desktop study of the PhD thesis by Dr John Jing with the title: Seismic Damage-Resistant System for Modular Steel Structures to gain an in-depth understanding of how the seismic damage-resistant system (SDRS) developed by Dr John Jing works in multi-storey cold-formed steel framed buildings constructed using prefabricated modules (volumetric), panels and/or CFS frames only;
2. Complete a desktop literature review of research papers, books, technical reports, industry guidelines, property files (selected existing buildings), codes and standards (including Clause B1 of NZBC, NASH standard Parts 1 and 2 and AS/NZS 4600: 2005) on CFS construction to establish typical design and construction methodologies, details and practices of multi-storey CFS-framed buildings in both NZ and other countries;
3. Complete a preliminary structural design of a new multi-storey building in Auckland using CFS frames (the project to be provided by Dr John Jing);
4. Carry out 3-D finite element modelling using the commercial software package, SAP2000 based on the preliminary design completed from 3 above; and
5. Together with Parts 2 and 3 students, prepare and publish a technical report with the conclusions and recommended design and analysis procedures through industry bodies such as HERA/NASH.

Note: Dr John Jing is the industry partner for this project. He will personally provide a top-up of $2000.00 to the university scholarship. There will also be a potential job offer to the right candidate following graduation.

Structural analysis and design of multi-storey CFS-framed building with seismic damage-resistant system: Initial analysis and seismic design

Supervisor

Charles Clifton

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG038

In collaboration with industry, the objective of this research is to demonstrate compliance of a new proprietary seismic damage-resistant system with Clause B1 of NZBC for multi-storey cold-formed steel (CFS) framed buildings and develop and publish corresponding design and analysis guidelines to aid design engineers in practice.

This project includes the following:

1. Carry out linear static analysis on the finite element models built by the Part 1 student using the equivalent static method (ESM) with an assumed ductility factor to the requirements of NZS 1170.5: 2004 and accordingly derive the seismic mass, base and storey shears, inter-storey drifts and principal periods of the building, based on a selected real-life example of multistorey CFS framed buildings in NZ;
2. Based on the ESM results, complete a preliminary design of the SDRS devices and prepare markup floor plans indicating the required SDRS devices at each floor level;
3. Revise the finite element models in SAP2000 by incorporating the SDRS devices along alternate directions (building axes) at each floor level with the use of nonlinear link elements which are to be defined using parameters derived by Dr John Jing through his experimental testing;
4. Go back to 1 and iterate until the calculated equivalent ductility factor matches the assumption in 1 above
5. Prepare and publish a technical report with the conclusions and recommended design and analysis procedures through industry bodies such as HERA/NASH.

Geotechnical properties of natural pumiceous sands

Supervisor

Rolando Orense

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG039

Pumice deposits are widely distributed in the central part of North Island. Because pumice particles are highly crushable, compressible and lightweight, they are problematic from engineering point of view. This project will elucidate on the geotechnical properties of natural pumiceous deposits by (1) determining the specific gravity of pumice particles using different standards; comparing their maximum and minimum void ratios in dry and saturated conditions; and quantifying their crushability through single particle crushing tests. The research outputs will be used in interpreting the peculiar laboratory experimental results obtained for natural pumiceous deposits vis-à-vis hard-grained sands.

Quantifying changes to river beds: a laboratory study of flow dynamics and sand transport

Supervisor

Dr Heide Friedrich

Discipline

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project code: ENG040

River beds modelling

My research group is studying bedform dynamics, such as ripples and dunes. Understanding the processes that form those patterns is important for flood management.

An understanding of river flooding and erosion is of vital importance to managing river systems and catchments. There is a need for more detailed measurements of erosion and sedimentation processes to calibrate numerical models used to predict changes to rivers as a result of climate change. This project will involve a laboratory study of flow dynamics and sand transport in a flume. Novel experimental techniques based on imagery are used to obtain detailed measurements of erosion and deposition on river beds.

Skills needed: Interest in fluid mechanics and hydraulics is essential for this project.

Student background: This project would be suited to BEng or BSc students with fluids or geomorphology background, who have an interest in patterns, rivers and hydraulics. You’ll be part of a research team that values diversity and creativity.

Wave impact on coastal structures