Thomas Telford Premium (Institution of Civil Engineers)

Dr Alister Smith and Professor Neil Dixon have been awarded the Thomas Telford Premium (Prize for Best Paper in Journal) for their paper in the Institution of Civil Engineers Géotechnique Letters Journal.

The work was conducted in collaboration with researchers at the British Geological Survey. The authors received the awards at the annual awards ceremony at the Institution of Civil Engineers, which took place on 9th October 2015.

Smith, A., Dixon, N., Meldrum, P., Haslam, E., & Chambers, J. (2014). Acoustic emission monitoring of a soil slope: Comparisons with continuous deformation measurements.Géotechnique Letters, 4(October-December), 255-261.

Hawley Award for Engineering Innovation

Dr Alister Smith, a Research Fellow from Loughborough University, has received the prestigious Hawley Award for Engineering Innovation; he 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 Fiona and Nicholas Hawley Award, 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’ 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.”

ICE East Midlands Merit Awards 2015 – Studies and Research Category Winner

The development of the Slope ALARMS landslide early warning system by Loughborough University was declared winner of the Studies & Research Merit Award at the regions’ major civil engineering event of the year.

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) East Midlands Awards 2015, which took place on 5 June, was held at the The Belfry Hotel, Nottingham.

One of the major events of the regional built environment calendar, the 2015 Awards recognised outstanding examples of East Midlands’ design and construction completed in 2014. The Slope ALARMS development project competed with 44 other projects from across the region to gain its well-deserved win.

David Balmforth, ICE President 2014-15 and Adrian Coy, Vice President 2014-2015 presented the awards at a ceremony during a black-tie dinner attended by over 360 guests.
The Studies & Research Merit Award celebrates safety and environmental management, innovation and project design application.

The judges said: “The development of the Slope ALARMS landslide early warning system could have significant benefits in protecting global communities and infrastructure from the effects of landslip damage. Congratulations to Loughborough University and partners, British Geological Survey.”

Research effort has culminated in the world leading Slope ALARMS system being established as a viable approach to provide early warning of slope failure. Field trials world-wide have demonstrated proof of concept and identified benefits over traditional techniques.

2014 was the pivotal year for Slope ALARMS with definitive field evidence showing AE rates are proportional to slope displacement rates, publication of five journal papers, new installations in the UK, Canada and Austria, and broadcast of a Discovery Channel film. Discussions are in progress to commercialise Slope ALARMS so that benefits can be experienced by organisations and communities world-wide.

Pioneering landslide sensor wins national award

Slope ALARMS won the Civil Engineering category at The Engineer magazine’s 2011 Technology and Innovation Awards. These celebrate the ground breaking achievements of the UK’s leading engineers and partnership working.

Slope ALARMS has been created in partnership with The British Geological Survey and supported by Geotechnical Observations Limited.  Thought to be the first of its kind in the world, it works by measuring and analysing the acoustic behaviour of soil to establish when a landslide is imminent so preventative action can be taken.

Slope ALARMS uses a network of sensors that are buried across the hillside or embankment that presents a risk of collapse.  These act as microphones in the subsoil and record the acoustic activity of the soil across the slope, transmitting individual signals to a central computer for analysis.

Once a certain noise rate is recorded, the system can send a warning, via a text message, to the authorities responsible for safety in the area.  An early warning allows them to evacuate an area, close transport routes that cross the slope or carry out works to stabilise the soil.

The research that led to the development of the system was carried out by academics in the School of Civil and Building Engineering and was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Neil Dixon, Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at Loughborough University and principal investigator on the project, said: “We are delighted that Slope ALARMS has been recognised by The Engineer awards, collaboration between the project partners has been a critical element of the success.  The award is generating further interest in Slope ALARMS and it will help us establish new opportunities to apply the technology.”

As well as the life-saving implications for countries prone to disastrous landslides, the technique can also be used in monitoring the condition of potentially unstable slopes built to support transport infrastructure, such as rail and road embankments, in developed countries such as the UK.

Commercialisation Award 2010

Slope ALARMS has won a Loughborough University enterprise award. The invention, developed by researchers in Loughborough’s School of Civil and Building Engineering, uses real-time acoustic sensors to listen for movement in the soil.

Following work funded by the EPSRC and built in collaboration with the British Geological Survey, researchers last year conducted successful trials of the sensor and won the commercialisation category of Loughborough University’s Enterprise Awards 2010.

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