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Dynamic Buckling of Structural Steel Members

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  • Full or part time
    Dr R Judge
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

The buckling response of steel and aluminium sections subjected to blast loading is an under-researched topic which is important in the design of both structural and façade systems. Transient dynamic loads can be many times greater than ultimate loads, and looking to static slenderness limits for the design of members against strut buckling, lateral-torsional buckling and local buckling is thought to be highly conservative. However, there is little data on dynamic buckling which allows less conservative assumptions to be made, which can significantly increase the size of steel or aluminium sections specified on our projects. This can have a significant impact on the both the architectural intent of a building as well as having cost, sustainability and health and safety implications.

The aim of this research project is to investigate the buckling mechanism in steel and aluminium elements under dynamic loads. This is an under-researched subject area which usually leads to static slenderness limits conservatively being adopted in design. There is strong evidence to indicate that steel and aluminium sections under transient dynamic loads are less prone to buckling than sections under static loads, although slenderness limits for different types of buckling, durations of loading etc. are not available. This can lead to overly conservative designs that unnecessarily infringe upon the architectural intent for a building structure.

The key deliverables for this project will be a research report to industry illustrating the findings of the study, which potentially includes dynamic slenderness limits and a more appropriate analysis and design methodology that can be adopted for the design of steel structures subjected to dynamic loads. The findings of the study will also be disseminated via relevant industry and academic conferences and through publication in relevant peer-reviewed journals.

Value to industry:
To enable structural engineers around the world to provide more efficient designs of steel and aluminium structural members subjected to dynamic transient loads against axial strut buckling, lateral-torsional buckling and local buckling.

Industrial Supervisory Team:
David Cormie & Will Wilkinson, Arup

Academic Supervisory Team:
Ryan Judge, University of Liverpool
Graham McShane, University of Cambridge

Applicants must fulfil the following criteria:
- Hold a minimum 2:1 degree at Masters Level in Civil and Structural Engineering
- Have a good grounding and keen interest in Structural Engineering, Structural Dynamics, Non-linear Finite Element Analysis, Blast and Impact Mechanics
- Some industry experience

Funding Notes

To be eligible for a full award (stipend and fees) a student must have:
- Settled status in the UK, meaning they have no restrictions on how long they can stay.
- Been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the grant. This means they must have been normally residing in the UK (apart from temporary or occasional absences). In addition to the stipend and fees, a research training support grant for use in own responsibility will be provided which normally amounts to £1,000 per year.


Two references are required from the academic institution where undergraduate/postgraduate degree was obtained (e.g. one from tutor and one from supervisor of final year project).

Desirable reference (but not necessary):
- Company(s) where candidate may have spent time during the course of undergraduate study (e.g. summer placement) or even job after graduation.

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