School of Civil, Environmental & Mining Engineering Blog

Seminar Title: Reducing regional water supply vulnerabilities and multi-city robustness conflicts when confronting a deeply uncertain future

Presenter: Prof Patrick M. Reed (Cornell University)

Date: Friday 23 February 2018

Time: 11:00am-12:00pm

Where: N132 – Engineering North (The University of Adelaide)

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A group of four University of Adelaide civil engineering students who developed a virtual reality tool for mapping flood risk as part of their honours project will present their tool at Ingenuity 2017.

Ingenuity is an annual event hosted by the University of Adelaide to showcase the work emerging from the Faculty of Engineering and Computer and Mathematical Sciences. It’s free to the public, and is a key opportunity for students to present their ideas to families, students, faculty, company directors, professional engineers, and other influencers.

“One of the things about presenting our project at Ingenuity is finding ways to make it interesting to a huge variety of people,” Rachel Sharp, one of the students, explains. “A primary school kid just wants to see something really cool and exciting, but a uni student or professional wants to know, ‘Oh, how does this mechanism work?”

When it comes to a cool, exciting project, this team feels pretty confident about its offering. They’ve created an app that uses virtual reality to present flood maps in an immersive way. They hope the product will aid engineers, scientists and the community in visualising floods of different magnitudes.

“What we’re really trying to do is improve communication,” explains Jonathan Ascough, another of the students involved with the project. “People who do flood modelling create complex mathematical models of flood predictions. But their stakeholders don’t have the strong technical background to understand and interpret the models.

“We’re trying to improve the communication of the concepts, and make risks really obvious.”

Originally, the group tried to make an interactive 2D tool for produce the flood maps, but then they came up with the idea of using virtual reality to create an immersive experience. “We hope the immersion will lead to better education,” says Jonathan. “With VR, you can use your phone as a screen, so it makes the technology more accessible.”

“The traditional approach has quite a few limitations,” explains Innes McPhail, another student. “We needed to do something different to change how flood mapping is visualised”

Each student in the four-person team brought different skills to the project, which took then 18 months to complete. Since none of them had knowledge of VR or software programming, the toughest part was creating the software that would turn their data into a visual display.

“We made the tool in a game engine called Unity,” Jonathan explains. “We had to learn how to develop a game and make the different elements interact. It took a lot of research and processing just to make a button to click on, but we did it.”

The team are passionate about the benefits of this tool, and are excited about presenting it at Ingenuity.

“I really like telling people about the things I’m doing and getting them excited about engineering, especially females,” says Rachel. “I think it’s really important we have more of a representation in those kind of fields.”

“Bringing in something that’s more accessible and ‘cool’, like VR, and incorporating it into the actual engineering world is a pretty exciting thing to do.”

You can try the group’s VR flood-modelling project for yourself, along with other exciting and cutting-edge student projects, research and program offerings, at Ingenuity 2017 – 9:30am – 3:30pm, 31 October 2017 at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

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Australia’s infrastructure boom has barely begun, according to recent media. The wave is beginning, and is only going to increase over the next three to five years. This makes it the perfect time to begin to study Civil Engineering at the University of Adelaide.

Ranked as one of the best engineering schools in the world at 36 out of 500, the University of Adelaide Civil Engineering program is in Australia’s top 3.

Media commentators are predicting that the infrastructure boom will be bigger than the housing boom. It’s considered to be one-and-a-half times the size of the mining boom, too. It is fantastic news, but as Craig James of Commsec said, ‘people tend to lose sight of it because it’s scattered around Australia.

Head of School Professor Martin Lambert remarked that now the best time to start studying civil engineering.

‘Now is the best time to begin studying Civil Engineering at the University of Adelaide,’ said Professor Lambert. ‘You will not only be taught by the best, but you will be in high demand when you graduate.’

The $100 billion infrastructure boom is beginning, but we are right at the beginning. It will continue to increase job opportunities for civil engineers for at least the next five to ten years.

Associate Professor Mark Thyer, a leading academic within the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering (CEME) at the University of Adelaide, commented,

‘Civil Engineering at the University of Adelaide is really at the leading edge of the discipline. I think it’s a testament to the innovative thinking inside the school that our graduates are in high demand when they finish.’

For more information about how you can grasp this amazing opportunity, visit



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the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering (CEME) at the University of Adelaide is seeking a dynamic international leader for its next Head of School. Professor Martin Lambert, the current Head of School, recently announced that he is stepping down, after serving in the role for six of the past nine years. The new […]

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The University of Adelaide ranks ahead of most of the world’s universities when it comes to civil engineering. Ranked at 36, the school beats University of Melbourne, Cambridge,  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to a place in the top 40. This latest ranking comes courtesy of the Academic World Ranking of Universities (AWRU) is held […]

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Students from the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering have been awarded the Sustainable Engineering Society’s South Australia student award. Jonathan Schulz, Stella Naylor, Sam Kapadia and Peter Golding won the award for their honours project: A Framework for the Development of Optimal Food Trade Strategies for Mitigating the Impact of Shocks on Global […]

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The Annual School Ball was held on Friday, 21st August at the National Wine Centre. The School’s annual function is a formal occasion where students can meet prospective employers, graduates can renew contact with classmates and academic staff, and industry representatives may catch up with the achievements of students and staff of the School over […]

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Postgraduate student, Andrew Bradley, was honoured to receive the Richard Cavagnaro Award at the 2015 Australian Geomechanics Society’s SA-NT Young Geotech Conference for his work on “Modelling of Rolling Dynamic Compaction within LS-DYNA”.

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