Understanding and tackling challenges relating to ground and underground structures, geotechnics and environmental and hazardous aspects of structures.
This area encompasses understanding and addressing the challenges relating to:
- ground and underground structures, including tunnelling, piling, ground reinforcements, trenchless technology and pavement engineering
- geotechnics, rock mechanics and the interaction of structures with soil (using a range of numerical modelling approaches)
- environmental and hazardous aspects of structures on, off and in the ground (for example, the effect of climate change).
We want the community to focus on delivering against resilience-related goals, such as ensuring a reliable infrastructure and mitigating the risks of climate change. We encourage the community to find sustainable solutions to national needs, seek to apply intelligent technologies and systems and maximise the impact of the investment in the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC). We will also explore the requirements of early career researchers.
The themes outlined below will characterise the area.
The UK has a strong heritage in this discipline and is at the forefront of research, with substantial links into industry. Investments will deliver against EPSRC’s resilient nation ambitions, in particular by addressing (with industry) long-term challenges associated with structure-soil interaction, to prevent failure of critical infrastructure.
The community needs to continue adopting disruptive technology, for example novel applications of sensor technology, or ground-penetrating systems.
Sustainable solutions for national needs are another challenge which the community should seek to address alongside industry. For example:
- decarbonisation by developing green construction materials with fewer emissions
- developing and designing solutions which minimise impact on the surrounding environment
- improved resource-efficient design of structures – these can be addressed alongside the structural engineering area.
Working to address leadership and skills
This area has clear links with other research areas, for example structural engineering, built environment, infrastructure and urban systems. It will be critical for the community to take a whole-systems view regarding the smart cities agenda. Researchers are encouraged to go on addressing cross-research council issues, including engaging with social and environmental sciences.
We will work with the community to understand and address leadership or related skills challenges, particularly in relation to early career researchers. This will be addressed alongside similar needs affecting built environment, infrastructure and urban systems, and structural engineering.
Researchers are expected to continue to take a leading role in large infrastructure projects, maximising the outcomes of investments and harnessing the multidisciplinary opportunities.
This research area is also of potential relevance to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s Official Development Assistance funding streams.