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Loughborough University student wins award for Engineering innovation

Alister Smith, from Loughborough University, has received the prestigious Hawley Award for Engineering Innovation.

Alister, a PhD student from the University’s School of Civil and Building Engineering, was honoured for his work on acoustic emission monitoring for landslide early warning.

His work has produced a means of early warning of landslides through detecting accelerations of slope movement, continuously and in real-time, by quantifying slope deformation behaviour using acoustic emission monitoring.  Field trials in the UK, Italy and Canada have been successful and discussions have started to commercialise the approach.  

His work has also made a significant contribution to the ALARMS (Assessment of Landslides using Acoustic Real-time Monitoring Systems) project, which is led by Professor Neil Dixon at the University.

The acoustic emission monitoring and warning system was developed in a collaboration between Loughborough University and the British Geological Survey. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and the Loughborough University Graduate School funded Alister’s doctoral research.

The Fiona and Nicholas Hawley Award[i], established in 2006, recognises excellent work in ‘Engineering Innovation that benefits the Environment’ by an early career stage engineer or scientist, resident of the UK, graduate or more senior member of a recognised engineering institution. 

Alister was presented with the award and a cheque for £5,000 at the Worshipful Company of Engineers’[ii] annual Awards Dinner on Tuesday 14 July at the Drapers’ Hall, London  by Dr Paul Golby CBE FREng.

Commenting on his award, he said: “It is an incredible honour to receive the prestigious Hawley Award. I would like to thank the Worshipful Company of Engineers, particularly the selection panel and the award co-ordinator Barry Brooks, for selecting me as this year’s winner.

“I would also like to thank all of the individuals that have enabled the project to succeed, particularly my supervisor Neil Dixon who also encouraged me to apply for the award. I am delighted that this research has received such recognition; landslides destroy thousands of lives globally each year and this technology could make a real difference.”

Barry Brooks, Hawley Award Co-ordinator for the Engineers Trust (the charitable arm of the Worshipful Company of Engineers) said: “There was a wide range of technologies presented by this year’s applicants, each with potential to improve the environment.  However, Alister’s project stood out for its combination of proven technology in a relatively simple system that has been demonstrated in the field, with great prospects for commercial use to protect people.”