COST SAVING risk analysis methods are being ignored by geotechnical engineers who still opt for traditionally crude factors of safety, according to American research experts.
'State of the art is not state of the practice. Advanced academic methods are not filtering down into practice, with few engineers willing to accept probabilistic design methods, ' said Glasgow Napier University PhD student, Gordon Cameron, as he summed up his experiences following a month long scholarship in North America.
By quantifying the level of risk of each design, a more engineered and economical approach is attainable through adopting more accurate factors of safety.
Cameron was awarded the JM Lessells Engineering travel scholarship from sponsors of the scheme, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, an academic organisation that normally awards three engineering scholarships each year.
'I never thought that I'd be able to do something like this, but it goes to show that such things are obtainable, with plenty of opportunities out there, ' said Cameron.
During his one month tour of North America in September, Cameron visited Maryland, Richmond, Nashville, Calgary, Michigan and Boston. His plans were, however, interrupted when he was due to board a flight to Austin, Texas. With a boarding card in his hand, terrorists struck on 11 September and he found himself grounded for three days, wiping out that leg of his tour.
In Calgary, Canada, Cameron presented his first year paper on risk and reliability in geotechnical engineering to the 54th Canadian Geotechnical Annual Conference, the longest running conference of its kind in the world.
During his trip, Cameron met geotechnical specialists and research bodies across the US involved in risk and reliability in geotechnical design. Research here is very active in this field with Cameron describing Americans as leading the way.