Wengui Huang

Dr

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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

I have carried out extensive research in unsaturated soil mechanics and geohazards. Climate change has made both topics highly relevant. Several of my research interests are listed below.

Climate resilience and adaptation of geo-infrastructure

Our transportation infrastructure (e.g., railway, highway) is supported by numerous embankments and cuttings. Many of these geotechnical structures in the UK were constructed more than 150 years and not complied with modern standards. They are already prone to landslide risk in the wet winters. With climate change, summer is dryer, and winter is wetter. The increase in dry-wet cycles can potentially increase the infrastructure deterioration rate and more extreme rainfall events lead to greater landslide risk. My research aims to understand: 1) how climate change can affect slope failure mechanisms and risk? and 2) what adaptation measures can be used to improve the climate resilience of geo-infrastructure? Because of a unique opportunity working for EPSRC Programme Grant ACHILLES, I collaborate with the leading researchers, infrastructure asset owners and consultants addressing the impact of climate change to the UK infrastructure earthworks. I am currently very active in this research area.

Low carbon geotechnical construction

Geotechnical engineers often carry out design with conservative assumptions. For example, the beneficial suction effect in the unsaturated zone is often neglected in routine design. Many three-dimensional geotechnical problems are analysed with two-dimensional approximations. More rigorous analyses can give more realistic and economical solutions. However, application of advanced methods (i.e., rigorous analyses) is limited in industry practice, as they require more input parameters (some of them are difficult to obtain), more expertise and time-consuming. I have addressed these problems since my PhD study. I developed tools that allow geotechnical engineers to carry out design more efficiently and avoid unnecessary overconservative design. Therefore, the embodied carbon in geotechnical structures is minimised.

Big data analytics for geotechnical assets management

Infrastructure asset owners manage a large number of assets. For example, Network Rail manage 190,000 earthworks, Highways England manage 35,000 earthworks. Unanticipated failures cause severe disruption with associated high costs, and damage to reputation. The funding available for maintenance is often limited and constrained by the financial environment. It is a huge challenge to identify the assets that require most urgent attention and maintenance out of a large number of assets. I have been applying data analytics and developing regression models that can be used for landslide risk assessment at regional and network scales. By applying the data driven models, the risk for each asset can be quantified and the assets that require most urgent attention can be identified through ranking the risk from the highest to the lowest.

Landslide hazard research in developing countries

Landslide hazard occurs in rainy seasons. Landslide hazard will be one of the hazards that is most influenced by climate change. In developing countries, the impact of climate change coupled with the increase in population will drive the increase in landslide risk. I have established collaborations with leading researchers in Africa, Europe and China solving this problem.

 

In summary, I aim to carry out internationally leading research that address the ongoing climate crisis, inform government and public policy, promote sustainability and resilience of our infrastructure and living environment. I am always interested in supervising PhD and MSc students in any of these or related 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 

Enterprise Interest and Activities

Dr Wengui Huang is keenly interested in helping infrastructure asset owners and consultants improve the way of managing geotechnical assets (e.g., embankments, cuttings), forecasting the impact of climate change and developing climate resilient solutions.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Nanyang Technological University

Aug 2013Aug 2017

Award Date: 20 Mar 2018

Bachelor, Geological Engineering, Lanzhou University

Sept 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

Sept 2017Mar 2020

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