Science and Engineering

Civil engineering


What is civil engineering?

Civil engineering is the design, planning, construction and operation society's infrastructure. The fingerprints of civil engineers are visible in our buildings, roads, bridges, pipelines, railways, airports, mines, and water supplies. Beyond building, civil engineering also adapts infrastructure to meet real-world challenges such as overpopulation, natural disasters and climate change. Whether it's supplying electricity to a remote village, or finding new ways to recycle waste, civil engineers truly shape the world we live in today.


We are a team of academics who are actively engaged in research, teaching, and professional service across sub-disciplines of civil engineering. This includes a research group based at our Wind and Fire Engineering Lab as well as our Transport Research Group.

We have strong connections to the community of practising civil engineers, as well as leadership roles within the international academic community.

Our researchers are involved in cutting-edge research programs, topics and projects across all of our sub-disciplines.


Our research has made significant contributions to QUT's Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) ratings.

We received a 4 (above world standard) in environmental engineering, and a 3 (at world standard) for civil engineering.

ERA (Excellence in Research for Australia) evaluates the quality of research undertaken in Australian universities against national and international benchmarks.


Construction engineering
  • disaster perception and risk mitigation
  • distance education in civil and construction engineering
  • extreme event scenarios
  • costing, bidding, IT, and business procedures in transportation construction projects
  • materials recycling and re-use in the construction industry.
Geotechnical engineering
  • soil-pile interactions
  • soil properties and their effects
  • properties and uses of advanced geosynthetics
  • slope instability problems.
Structural engineering
  • structural health monitoring
  • vibration in slender structures: composite floors and bridges
  • thin walled metal structures
  • reinforced and prestressed concrete masonry structures
  • structures under impact, wind, fire, explosion and seismic events
  • rail track and level crossing safety.
Transport engineering
  • transport planning and engineering
  • travel behaviour analysis and modelling
  • transport network optimisation and modelling
  • transport data management systems
  • traffic and public transport operations
  • transport safety.
Water resources and hydrologic engineering
  • stormwater treatment and bioretention
  • pollutant wash-off modelling
  • heavy metals in run off and retention basins
  • factors affecting water quality
  • wetlands and urban water quality.


One of our key goals is to educate students to become innovative engineering leaders, practitioners, and researchers. Our teaching prepares the next generation of civil engineers to practise professionally and ethically, ensuring they are highly regarded and sought after by employers. We make sure our students can communicate effectively, possess strong analytical and problem solving skills, and gain real world experiences during their education.

Our discipline has been ranked within the top 50 programs globally, and boasts an international cast of leading teachers and researchers.


The Category 1 funded research projects we are currently leading are:

New generation facility for impact testing

Project leaders
Professor David Thambiratnam, Professor Tommy Chan, Professor Manicka Dhanasekar, Dr Sabrina Fawzia, Dr Xuemei Liu and external collaborators.
Project summary

New generation facility for impact testing. This project aims to develop a new generation, national-impact testing facility to study the impact response of civil and mechanical structures and components.

This project is essential for research on rational design philosophies and effective retrofitting of high-risk buildings, infrastructure and armoured vehicles. Benefits include the saving of lives and property through new knowledge from credible impact testing.

Fire resistant and lightweight wall systems using innovative blocks

Project leader
Dr Anthony Ariyanayagam
Project summary

This project aims to develop an innovative block with lightweight and fire resistant characteristics by using pumice and perlite materials, followed by wall systems using the blocks. The project will generate new knowledge on lightweight blocks and fire safety, and develops cost-effective fire safe solutions for mid-rise buildings and bushfire safe rooms.

Mitigating the severity of level crossing accidents and derailments

Project leader
Professor David Thambiratnam
Project summary

Ongoing increases in the number of level crossings and heavy road vehicles cause more frequent and severe level crossing accidents and derailments. Despite the use of active warning systems, each year, on average, 100 level crossing accidents occur in Australia. With a view to mitigating these crashes, this research aims to formulate theories for reduction in crash energy and effective wheel constraints to prevent derailment by modifying the levels of road and rail crossings and providing guard rails in the recesses of these modified level crossings.

The theories are intended be developed using nonlinear dynamic computational methods and laboratory experiments. The outcomes are expected to enable reduction in the severity of level crossing accidents and hence save lives and costs of derailment.

Transforming traditional civil structures into smart structures that can accurately identify current and future structural deterioration conditions

Project leader
Professor Tommy Chan
Project summary
This project plans to develop innovative structural deterioration evaluation systems using output-only vibration data and versatile optimisation algorithms to enable long-term deterioration assessment and maintenance management even under demanding operating conditions. Expected project outcomes will enhance structural safety and maintenance efficiency.

Developing novel cold-formed, light-gauge steel frame wall systems with superior fire resistance

Project leader
Professor Mahen Mahendran
Project summary

This project intends to develop novel cold-formed light-gauge steel frame (LSF) wall systems with superior fire resistance and energy ratings for use in buildings.The project plans to investigate fundamental thermal, structural and energy performances of LSF walls and their components using experimental and numerical studies. The aim of the project is to use enhanced materials with innovative wall configurations to significantly improve the fire and energy performance of LSF walls.

Student topics

Are you looking to further your career by pursuing study at a higher and more detailed level? We are currently looking for students to research a number of topics within a range of broad themes.

There are topics relevant to students who would like to pursue:

  • PhD study
  • research masters
  • research project (part of masters by coursework or undergraduate project unit).

Structural engineering

We offer opportunities to conduct research on structural engineering, relating to:

  • structural dynamics
  • bridge design and dynamics
  • structural masonry
  • innovative infrastructure
  • steel structures
  • structural stability
  • fire safety of buildings
  • cyclone/storm resistant buildings
  • smart housing
  • infrastructure disaster resilience
  • concrete technology
  • computational method
  • infrastructure geomechanics
  • pavement design
  • structural health monitoring.

Find a supervisor in this research theme:

Transport engineering and planning

There are opportunities to conduct research on the issues and challenges in transport engineering.

Topics include:

  • traveller information systems
  • transit performance
  • transport planning
  • traffic engineering
  • road design
  • traffic safety
  • traffic control and operation
  • transportation systems modelling and analysis
  • public transport
  • travel behavior
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).

Find a supervisor in this research theme:

Environmental engineering

Our opportunities to conduct research on environmental engineering include:

  • Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)
  • adaptation to climate change
  • protecting and restoring water quality
  • stormwater/wastewater recycling and water conservation and efficiency
  • sustainability
  • resilience of water infrastructure and water security.

Find a supervisor in this research theme:


School of Civil Engineering and Built Environment

  • Level 7, S Block, Room 701
    Gardens Point