Postgraduate study

PhD student wins award for engineering innovation

Alister Smith, a PhD student from the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, received the prestigious Fiona and Nicholas Hawley Award for Engineering Innovation, in recognition of his work on acoustic emission monitoring for landslide early warning.

PhD student wins award for engineering innovation

Over the course of his PhD, Alister established a way to utilise acoustic emission monitoring to identify accelerations in slope movement, both continuously and in real-time. Using acoustic emission monitoring in this way could improve the chances of detecting landslides early and potentially save thousands of lives across the world. Field trials in the UK, Italy and Canada have been successful and discussions have already begun to commercialise Alister’s approach.

His work has also made a significant contribution to the ‘assessment of landslides using acoustic real-time monitoring systems (ALARMS)’ project, led by Professor Neil Dixon, Professor of Geotechnical Engineering.

The Fiona and Nicholas Hawley Award recognises ‘engineering innovation that benefits the environment’ and is awarded to graduates, academics, early-career stage engineers or scientists in the UK.

It was an incredible honour to receive the prestigious Hawley 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.