School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


28 Jul 2021

World-first slope simulator will lead to safer infrastructure


Loughborough University is to create the world’s first large-scale National Engineered Slope Simulator, thanks to a £500,000 grant from the Wolfson Foundation.

The human and economic cost of earthwork failures, such as the collapse of slopes and dams, is significant. Landslides caused by earthquakes and heavy rainfall kill tens of thousands of people worldwide annually. They also damage infrastructure and cause severe disruption to the access of critical lifelines such as water supply and transport links.

An ageing infrastructure, intensive use, and environmental extremes caused by climate change all threaten to increase the scale and frequency of such disasters.

The simulator will enable engineers to design, deliver and maintain affordable and safe infrastructure that is resilient to the increasing environmental risks caused by climate change.

Professor Neil Dixon and Dr Alister Smith from Loughborough’s School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering will be leading the simulator project and the associated research programme, supported by a team of colleagues.

Speaking about the simulator, Professor Dixon said: “This exceptional facility will transform research capability in the geotechnical engineering sector. It will enable us to work with our academic and stakeholder partners across the UK to investigate and understand the causes of earthwork slope failures, optimise remediation strategies and inform the design of new infrastructure."

Professor Dixon and Dr Smith are internationally acclaimed for their work in this area. They are the creators of the world’s first commercial acoustic emission slope monitoring system, developed with a global leading geotechnical instrumentation company, and have conducted extensive research into slope failures.

Athena Swan Bronze award

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School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering
Loughborough University
LE11 3TU