Simon Austin

Professor Simon Austin

BSc; PhD

  • Professor of Structural Engineering

Research and expertise

My two main interests have been Structural Materials and Design, which grew out of my doctoral research in fibre reinforced composites and industrial experience as a structural engineer. More specifically, my research interest have included:

  • Structural Materials: 3D printing, sprayed concrete, fibre reinforced concrete, reinforcement corrosion and management, pre-cast systems, concrete slabs and concrete durability.
  • Design: Project processes, process modelling, design management, integration of design and construction, value management, workspace design andcollaborative working.

3D Concrete Printing Research

This is now my sole focus and grew out of many years of collaborative research, training, consultancy into sprayed and fibre reinforced concrete composites. I have taken concepts, materials and process from sprayed concrete in a radically new direction, helping develop and commercialise a new large-scale additive manufacturing processes – 3D Concrete Printing – which embodies a unique combination of concrete and temporary support that is deposited very precisely under computer control to produce, for example, doubly curved, hollow panels with voids.  This has been achieved in collaboration with a variet of organisations including: Foster+Partners, Buro Happold, Skanska, ABB, Hyundai EDC, Tarmac, BRE Shotcrete Ltd, Weber and Manufacturing Technology Centre.  

See www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfbhdZKPHro and www.buildfreeform.com

Additive manufacturing techniques are able to build physical objects directly from computer-generated instructions, to create complicated shapes that cannot be manufactured by conventional processes. These machines can be used to solve some of the complexity issues found in construction if they can be scaled up to produce massive parts out of appropriate material.

Current research activity

  • Structural performance of 3D concrete printed composites funded by EPSRC (£880k) (2019-2022)

Recently completed research projects

  • Freeform Construction - Developing an industrial 3DCP manufacturing cellfunded by EPG and HEIF (2014-15)
  • Adaptable and sustainable buildings PhD with Rachael Grinnell (2017)
  • Geopolymer concrete PhD with Thanh Nguyen (2017)
  • Novel admixtures for rheological control of 3DCP PhD with Marry Lilliman (2017)
  • Durability assessment of concrete containing recycled materials and corrosion management of reinforced concrete structures EngD with Wayne Dodds (2017)
  • Novel precast modular housing system EngD with Domenico Cecini (2018)

 

Recent publications

Teaching

I contribute to learning and teaching activities at a strategic level, particularly the development and early implementation of two new programmes in Architecture and Architectural Engineering. This includes the programme content, accreditation, recruitment and space needs.

Given my limited working hours, I no longer participate in timetabled teaching although I assist students informally.

Enterprise

Current projects 

  • CAMBER - Concrete Additive Manufacturing for the Built Environment using Robotics funded by EPSRC (2017-2019)
  • Supporting Loughborough start-up company Concrenetics (https://www.concrenetics.com) in exploiting our 3D concrete printing research and development.

Recently completed projects

  • Freeform Construction - Developing an industrial 3DCP manufacturing cell (2014-15)

Profile

I was educated at Stamford School before getting by BSc in Civil Engineering (1st Class) from Loughborough University of Technology in 1978. I stayed on to undertake doctoral research in fibre composites with an SERC CASE studentship with Johnson & Nephew, then Fibretetch.

I worked for Tarmac Construction on M5 and A30 road construction projects. I later joined Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick & Partners in 1982 as a structural engineer, working on various projects including hospitals, airport and off-shore projects before joining Loughborough University as a lecturer in 1984. I was appointed to Chair in Structural Engineering in 1999.

I have undertaken industry-focused research for over 30 years into cementitious materials, construction methods, structural elements and the design process. It is mostly funded by EPSRC plus industry (32 grants worth £8M) with findings disseminated in over 100 journal and 150 conference publications.

I have always been motivated to see the fruits of my worthwhile research translated in to practice. To that end I have served on several BSi and CEN committees, been a consultant member of trade associations and hold several patents. I was the founder director of Adept Management, a specialist management consultancy to leading companies in construction and other sectors (www.adeptmanagement.com). This spin-out company was formed in 2001 and is now a well established business with offices in London, Coventry and California.

Professional affiliations

  • Retired as a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers

External activities

  • BSi Working Group B/517/WG10 - Sprayed Concrete
  • Member of CEN TC104/WG10 - Sprayed concrete
  • Member and former Chair of CEN TC104/WG11 - Fibres for concrete

Key collaborators

My research and enterprise activities have involved many organisations ranging from clients to consulants, contractors and research orientated organizations. A small sample includes:

  • Foster+Partners, Cundall, ABB, Skanska, the Manufacturing Technology Centre, Elkem and HAL Robotics
  • Foster+Partners, Buro Happold and Hyundai EDC
  • Buro Happold, Foster+Partners, Shotcrete Ltd and Weber
  • Skanska, Foster+Partners, ABB, Tarmac and the Manufacturing Technology Centre
  • SCA, EFNARC and ACIFC trade associations.