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Wednesday 14 May 2014Inaugural Lecture - Vibration serviceability: from obscurity to the infamous Millennium Bridge case and beyond

Professor Aleksandar Pavic - Professor of Vibration Engineering and Associate Dean for Research and Knowledge Transfer, CEMPS

Harrison LT 004 17:15-19:00

Everybody still remembers the 'wobbly' Millennium Bridge case and the global media excitement when it started swaying during its opening day on 10 June 2000. In fact, this is the most written-about UK civil structural engineering news story of the 20th century. My expertise is in vibration serviceability of large civil engineering structures. More than anything else in the last twenty years, this story helped to move my area of research from its obscurity in the 20th century to the top of the structural engineering research and industrial agenda in the UK in the 21st century.

The Millennium Bridge case is a classic example of something which we in the profession call 'vibration serviceability failure'. This is when a large structure vibrates excessively, but never falls down. Vibrations are typically caused by people walking, running and jumping and 'excessive' means that the structure is not fit for purpose. Vibration serviceability failure happens often with footbridges, grandstands, building floors and staircases - a sizeable chunk of the built infrastructure that humans use every day.

This lecture will present vibration serviceability as state-of-the-art, how it moved from scientific obscurity to the world stage, and why it is still one of the least understood areas of civil structural engineering. I will explain why my best laboratories over the last twenty years were real-life structures occupied by humans, and what may be done in them in the next twenty years.

PROFESSOR ALEKSANDAR PAVIC holds the Chair in Vibration Engineering and leads the Vibration Engineering Section in the Engineering Department. The research group transferred to Exeter in May 2013, after 20 years at the University of Sheffield. Professor Pavic (co-)authored all four key design guidelines pertinent to vibration serviceability of building floors and grandstands in the UK which are used internationally.

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