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  Buried Infrastructure Digital Twin: Integrating BIM with cutting-edge computing technologies for real-scale buried infrastructure tests

   Department of Civil Engineering

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  Dr Jelena Ninic  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The continuous requirement of project safety, stability and resilience of complex underground systems leads to demands for more efficient computational assessment tools that can be used to assist design and decision making during the project life cycle. The project aims to develop an innovative simulation platform for underground construction analysis and design, uniquely combining the efficiency of the novel computational methods (e.g. IGA, CutFEM, ROM, ML) and the concept of Building Information Modelling (BIM). The advanced computational methods will allow to significantly reduce the lead time from modelling to analysis by employing the fictitious domain approach while improving resolution and accuracy by local adaptive mesh refinement. By integrating these efficient numerical methods in a CAD-based modelling environment supporting BIM, this research project will provide a modern, user-friendly, and modularly extensible framework. The developed methods and tools will be validated using a real-scale testing experiment rig at the National Buried Infrastructure Facility (UoB-NBIF).

The Digital Twin (DT) of the buried infrastructure will be developed to digitally replicate the buried infrastructure with its sensing and monitoring setup and to allow for real time analysis of the behaviour of buried objects. Furthermore, the real-scale experiment will be interactively contorted based on the analysis that DT will enable in the application layer. Finally, the integrated design approach will be also tested using monitoring project data from the industrial partners. The project will also include thorough testing and validation. The project outcomes are expected to radically change the way engineers approach geotechnical project planning. 

Computer Science (8) Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

Fully funded PhD scholarship which covers fees and a stipend for home UK students or an equivalent contribution to fees for international students.


- J. Ninić, A. Vonthron, C. Koch, W. Tizani and M. Koenig, “Integrated parametric multi-level information and numerical modelling of mechanised tunnelling projects,” Advanced Engineering Informatics (impact factor 3.358), vol. 43, 2020.
- J. Ninić, H.G. Bui and G. Meschke, “BIM-to-IGA: a fully automatic design trough analysis workflow for segmented tunnel linings”, Advanced Engineering Informatics (Invited paper for SI Eg-ice 2019) (impact factor 3.358) vol. 46, 2020.
- J. Ninić, H.G. Bui, C. Koch and G. Meschke, “Computationally efficient simulations in urban mechanized tunnelling based on multi-level BIM models“, Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering (impact factor 1.798), vol. 112(3), 2019.
- HG Bui, D Schillinger, Y Zendaki, G Meschke A CutFEM based framework for numerical simulations of machine driven tunnels with arbitrary alignments. Computers and Geotechnics 144, 104637.

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