Engineers Australia

Impact From Symbiotic Collaboration Between Industry And Academia In Offshore Geotechnics

Mark F. Randolph, Liang Cheng, Barry M. Lehane, M. Fraser Bransby, Yuxia Hu, Christophe Gaudin, Muhammad Shazzad Hossain, Conleth D. O’Loughlin, James P. Doherty, Britta Bienen, Scott Draper, Hongwei An, Youngho Kim and Phillip G. Watson

Abstract

Offshore geotechnical engineering is often considered to be ‘industry leading’ with respect to evolving new scientifically based design approaches for foundations and other infrastructure. A high proportion of such advances have originated from collaboration between the offshore industry and academia and, indeed, academic staff in geotechnics at the University of Western Australia have had a particularly significant impact on offshore geotechnical design practice, both locally and internationally, extending over the last 30 years. The nature of interactions with industry and the type of research methodology has varied considerably, ranging from classical doctoral research leading to a major new design approach for a generic problem, to project-specific studies initiated by industry to provide a design basis for particular seabed infrastructure. An example of the former is CPT-based estimation of axial pile capacity in sand, where the UWA approach was incorporated, initially as an alternative to traditional practice but recently as the primary approach, into international guidelines. As a contrast, project-specific studies have often involved physical model tests using the National Geotechnical Centrifuge Facility or the closed O-tube apparatus, to generate data from which to formulate or validate design approaches for a current offshore development. The paper provides examples of these different types of collaboration and their impact on practice, but also discusses the mutual benefits of working with industry, both from a professional perspective for individual academic staff and at the more fundamental level of building and sustaining an economically viable research group.