Wengui Huang


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Personal profile

Academic Biography

Huang is a Lecturer in Civil Engineering at Teesside University. The academic journey of Huang started with a BEng in Geological Engineering from Lanzhou University (China). Huang conducted PhD research in the world famous unsaturated soil mechanics group in Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) on the topic "Stability of unsaturated soil slopes under rainfall and seismic loading". Social usefulness is the core consideration of his research and teaching. Therefore, upon graduation Huang joined Arup as a geotechnical and tunnel engineer to gain first-hand experience in industry. Huang worked on several major underground infrastructure projects including detailed design for Inter Terminal Tunnels (ITT) of Changi Airport in Singapore, and tender design for Cross Island Line (CR108) in Singapore and Jakarta MRT Phase 2 (CP201) in Indonesia. The consulting work included bored tunnel design, building impact assessment, deep excavation analysis and design of earth retaining structure. During this period, he also worked as an adjunct lecturer for University of Newcastle (Singapore). He returned to academia in 2020 working as a Research Fellow in University of Leeds for an EPSRC programme grant ACHILLES. He worked closely with researchers from six UK universities and industry partners addressing the challenges of climate change to infrastructure embankments and cuttings that support roads and rails in the UK.

Summary of Research Interests

Huang has conducted research in the area of geotechnical engineering and addressed the challenges brought by environmental factors. Climate change is increasingly pressing. Geotechnical design should be sustainable for construction industry to achieve net zero. Geotechnical engineering should also keep up with the pace of digital technology that is available.

More sustainable geotechnical design considering unsaturated soil mechanics principles:
Water table is often some distance away from ground surface. The zone above water table is unsaturated, and water pressure is negative. Negative pore-water pressure (also called suction) increase effective contact stress and soil strength. However, the beneficial effect is often neglected in geotechnical design, which may lead to overconservative design and unnecessary increase of carbon footprint. In his PhD study, Huang developed tools that could be used for unsaturated slope stability analysis but only require easily determined parameters and simple calculations. The tools are therefore practical and promote more sustainable design of unsaturated slopes. Making use of unsaturated soil mechanics principles and benefits is a weapon that geotechnical industry can rely on to achieve net zero, which calls for wider and in-depth research.

More sustainable geotechnical design considering multi-dimensional boundary effects:
Geotechnical problems in real world are three-dimensional (3D). However, many geotechnical analyses are 1D (e.g., the infinite slope model) or 2D plane strain. Simplifying a 3D problem with a 1D or 2D model significantly reduces computational time and it is often justified that such simplification leads to conservative design. However, there are situations where the boundary effects are significant, and a 1D or 2D assumption would be too conservative/uneconomical/unsustainable. Research work that could facilitate engineers to carry out 3D analysis or equivalent would be useful to promote sustainable design and reduce carbon footprint. A good example is that Huang recently improved the infinite slope model by adding a correction term to account for boundary effects. More research can be done.

Digital automation of geotechnical design:
Geotechnical engineers often carry out design under the pressure of limited time and resources. Many chart solutions have been developed by researchers to aid design since the 20th century. However, the chart solutions are indeed products of the 20th century, and not compatible with modern digital design workflow in the 21st century. Huang is a pioneer in developing upper bound limit analysis and closed form solutions for slope stability analysis. The closed form solutions are superior to conventional chart solutions, as the former not only can be used for deterministic analysis, but also for probabilistic analysis considering parameters uncertainty. Geotechnical analysis with the closed form solutions can easily be incorporated into computer spreadsheet for design automation.

Huang is always interested in supervising PhD students in any of these or relaetd areas.

PhD and Research Opportunities

A fully funded PhD opportunity is available on the topic "Low carbon construction of earthworks considering suction and three-dimension effects and reuse of waste materials". For details, refer to https://www.tees.ac.uk/sections/research/funding_details.cfm?fundingID=199 

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Nanyang Technological University

Aug 2013Aug 2017

Award Date: 20 Mar 2018

Bachelor, Geological Engineering, Lanzhou University

Sep 2008Jun 2012

Award Date: 20 Jun 2012

External positions

Research Fellow, University of Leeds

Apr 2020Jul 2022

Adjunct Lecturer, The University of Newcastle, Australia (Singapore campus)

May 2019Feb 2020

Geotechnical Engineer, Arup Singapore Pte Ltd

Sep 2017Mar 2020


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