The Structures Group, the largest of the four groups, was lead by founding chair, Noel Murray. Murray had a heavy structural static and dynamic testing facility built, which included a 39m x 13m strong-floor. By 1966 there were eight academic staff members aligned with the Structures Group: Noel Murray, plastic theory and stability; Ken Atkins, shock waves and first year teaching; Harvey Dickson, stress analysis and surveying; Paul Grundy and Alan Holgate, structural analysis and design; Reg McPherson and Peter Thomson, both whom would go on to be foundation members of the Department of Materials Engineering; and George Rozvany, optimisation.
The collapse of the West Gate Bridge in October 1970 had a significant impact on the direction of the Structures Group. Noel Murray and Paul Grundy were involved in the investigation of the collapse, and the strong-floor laboratory was used to test large sections of the bridge. Murray testified at the Royal Commission and his research into the collapse resulted in the publication of a book. Research into thin walled structures developed out of the West Gate Bridge investigations, and is today one of the internationally recognised strengths of the group.
By the 1970s the Structures Group had an impressive list of academic staff, including: Peter Darvall, concrete structures; Rob Melchers, reliability; and Raphael Grzebieta, crashworthiness; Norm Sneath, housing and construction; and Mario Attard, concrete and thin walled structures. In the 1990s, Riadh Al-Mahaidi and Geoff Taplin joined the group. Geoff Taplin and Alan Holgate also maintain an interest in industrial heritage, having produced a significant study of Sir John Monash’s innovative bridges. Bob Milner, wooden structures and Bill Wong, steel structures, joined the group after the merger with Chisholm. Xiao-Ling Zhao joined the group in 1994, who was later appointed as Chair of Structural Engineering and Head of Department. Recent staff include Dr. Frank Collins (concrete and durability) and Dr. Heidarpour (structures subjected to extreme loading).
The Transport Group was established by Ken Ogden who joined the department as a young lecturer in 1969. Mike Taylor and Tony Richardson also joined the group in the early 1970s. Taylor’s area of research included local area traffic modelling and he developed the LATM (Local Area Traffic Model) package. Richardson was interested in behavioural modelling, bus priority and data collection procedures. Bill Young joined the group in 1975 as a student and 1977 as a Senior Tutor, researching the interaction between land-use and transport.
In 1978 the Transport Group began the Master of Transport program. This course was particularly attractive to a large number of professionals as it was the only coursework masters in transport in Victoria. From this masters came the Traffic Engineering Practice (TEP) workshop and policy lecture series. In 1989, the group welcomed their first female academic staff member, Donna Nelson. Geoff Rose joined in 1993 and Peter Daly three years after that. Bill Young became a Professor in Civil Engineering and Head of the Department in 1999. Stephen Greaves joined the group with his work in synthetic data sets in the early 2000s. Graham Currie became the first industry funded chair in the department – Chair of Public Transport. Recent academics include Dr. Majid Sarvi and Dr. Yibing Wang.
One of the major achievements of the Transport Group occurred in 1995, when, together with the University of Sydney, it established the National Key Centre in Transport Management. The centre is known as the Institute of Transport Studies at Monash (ITS) and conducts transport related research, including: transport technology, travel behaviour, road safety and transport/traffic engineering. ITS Monash also runs an education program for bus and coach operators and the parking industry. This course successfully attracted 2000 students by 2005.
In 1970, the Geomechanics Group comprised Ian Donald, Alan Parkin and Robin Cullen. The Geomechanics Group researched extensively in the field of clay testing, rock behaviour and soil erosivity. Ian Johnston joined the group in 1975, having specialised in electro-osmosis, and Chris Haberfield joined in 1983. After finishing his PhD, Julian Seidel joined in 1994. Bringing a new area of expertise to the group in 1996, was Abdelmalek Bouazza with his interest in environmental geomechanics, geosynthetics and ground improvement. The Geomechanics Group has had a number of successful research students, including Phil Dight, winner of the Rocha Award for the best PhD thesis in the world of rock mechanics in 1983. In the last 10 years three new academics joined the group – A/Prof. J. Kodikara, A/Prof. PG Ranjith and Dr. Asadul Haque.
The Water Group was established by Tom McMahon in 1968. By the time Russell Mein and Eric Laurenson joined the group in the early 1970s, undergraduate courses in water resources and hydrology, as well as a postgraduate research course had successfully been established.
In the 1980s, Bob Keller and Gary Codner joined the group, from the Department. Keller’s area of research included hydraulics and he established relationships with various industry professionals, which led to the foundation of a Hydraulics Laboratory in 1986. Codner’s interest was in environmental engineering, working on water quality and public health. It was through his initiative that the Faculty of Engineering established the Environmental Engineering degree in 1992. Roger Hadgraft joined the group in 1986, and Erwin Weinmann in 1993.
In the last 10 years a large number of new staff members have joined the department and changed the research direction of the group. They are Prof. Ana Deletic, Prof. Jeff Walker, A/Prof. Tim Fletcher, Dr. Edoardo Daly, Dr. David McCarthy, Dr. Belinda Hatt.
In 1975, Tom McMahon, Russell Mein and Eric Laurenson from the Water Group established a series of Water Engineering Workshops with the goal of teaching practising engineers new methods and techniques that could be translated directly into their everyday working practices. Combining formal lectures and hands on training, this six day series was extremely successful with the targeted audience.
The Department of Civil Engineering is providing its professional service to Industry, Engineering Professional bodies and the wider community. Academic and research staff of the department are actively involved in industry based research in general areas of civil engineering, mining engineering and petroleum industry applications.
Industry connections have been a major element of engineering at Monash – particularly within the Department of Civil Engineering. The Structures Group over the years developed strong links with Victorian Railways, VicRoads, road vehicle manufacturers, concrete and FRP industries. The Structures Group and the Geomechanics Group have excellent laboratory facilities. The strong-room floor designed by Murray is considered as being the strongest in the southern hemisphere and came in especially useful after the West Gate Bridge collapsed in 1970.
The department is very committed to deliver high quality research outputs that are of immediate relevance to Australian industry. It has been working with a large number of industry partners in an attempt to solve some of their key technical problems, while at the same time it is helping them to build their capacity internally. The recent success in the water group is an excellent example.
Academic staff represent the Department as editorial board members in various local and international reputed journals, and as grant assessors/reviewers for competitive grants (ARC) schemes and overseas granting bodies including European Community Frameworks.