Young Researcher's Conference - showcase of structural engineering research

The Young Researchers’ Conference is hosted every year by The Institution of Structural Engineers to develop awareness of the importance and potential of research in advancing structural engineering.

Held on the 5 March 2014 at the King’s Fund, London, this year once again saw students join industry professionals and academics in a showcase of the very best work young researchers have to offer. The event focuses on the next generation of structural engineers who are enthusiastic about structural engineering and ready to make their mark in the industry.

A poster presenter describes their project to the judges [© Stop Talking Photography]

We were especially pleased to have Molly Stevens, Professor of Biomedical Materials and Regenerative Medicine at Imperial College London, as our keynote speaker to open the day. Molly is a leading light in biomedical engineering and gave a fascinating talk on materials that she and her multi-disciplinary team are designing to help heal the human body.

The Chairman, Professor Tim Ibell, Institution Vice-President and Associate Dean at the University of Bath, then invited nine previously selected young researchers to give 15-minute oral presentations throughout the day. Sixteen other young researchers presented their posters informally over an extended lunch.

For the first time the event was opened up to other researchers, academics and practitioners who are interested in structural engineering research. Ed Clark, Director of Arup’s Building Engineering Group, agreed that it was a highly motivating conference. He said: “It’s great to attend this event. It’s truly unique, as one of very few opportunities we have as industry professionals to connect with researchers and see how their work reflects our own thoughts about the direction of structural engineering. It’s interesting to see how industry trends are reflected in the presentations. This event is a really stimulating day out and makes you ask the old question again: does the industry drive research or research drive the industry?”

Prize-winning researchers (from left to right): Laurence Clough, Claire Villette, Ross Johnston, Robert Foster, Monika Grusova [© Stop Talking Photography]

Prizes from a fund of £2,000 were awarded to the best oral and poster presentations of the day. All the winning presentations, plus conference proceedings showcasing all delegate projects, are available on the Institution website at The prize-winning presentations were on the following topics:

Oral category

  • 1st prize: ‘Behaviour of cold formed steel portal frames in fire’, by Ross Johnston of Queen’s University Belfast.

  • 2nd prize: ‘Lifetime extension of reinforced concrete slab-on-beam structures’, by Monika Grusova of University of Bath.

  • 3rd prize: ‘Combined predictive structural finite element and musculoskeletal modelling of bone structure for study of fracture under solid blast conditions’, by Claire Villette of Imperial College London.

Poster category

  • 1st prize: ‘The synergistic response of structures to thermal and blast loading’, by Laurence Clough of University of Southampton.

  • 2nd prize: ‘Shear strengthening of reinforced concrete slab-on-beam structures using externally bonded FRP fabrics’, by Robert Foster of University of Cambridge.

Leroy Gardner, Chairman of the Institution’s Research Panel, presented the prizes and commented that: “The conference is a marvellous opportunity for these students to get their work into the public eye, and perhaps be exposed to questions that their PhD supervisor might not ask. There is always a terrific, lively atmosphere based on the exchange of ideas, which is tremendously motivating.”

The event was supported and sponsored by Arup, Atkins, Flint & Neill, Laing O’Rourke, IABSE British Group, Institution of Civil Engineers, Oasys Software, Ramboll, S-FRAME Software, TRADA, and the Institution’s own Research Fund.

The Institution of Structural Engineers Logo

If your firm would be interested to be associated with next year’s event, please contact Peter Welland (Peter.Welland@istructe

For further information about the event please contact Laura Kirk (020 7235 4535; E-mail:


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