Latest news from Loughborough University

15 Jul 2015

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.”

Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR 15/138


[i] The Award is supported by the Engineering Council which holds the national registers of Engineering Technicians (EngTech), Incorporated Engineers (IEng), Chartered Engineers (CEng) and Information and Communication Technology Technicians (ICTTech). It also sets and maintains the internationally recognised standards of competence and ethics that govern the award and retention of these titles. 

[ii] The Engineers Trust is the charitable trust of the Worshipful Company of Engineers and promotes the development and advancement of the science, art and practice of engineering. The Trust Fund gives annual awards and prizes to support and encourage excellence amongst qualified engineers and those training to be Chartered Engineers, Incorporated Engineers and Engineering Technicians.

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named University of the Year in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015.Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. It was 2nd in the 2015 THE Student Experience Survey and was named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In 2015 the University will open an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will offer postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

The School of Civil and Building Engineering is one of the largest of its type in the UK. It aims to develop and nurture the skills required to face the challenges of an increasingly complex built environment.  

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Sophie Walker

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