Sustainable Engineering Group

Welcome to the Sustainable Engineering Group...

We have identified a number of key areas that provides our Discipline with a 'competitive' edge and a niche area for us to specialise and contribute. These include:

  • Rehabilitation solutions for degraded structures using fibre reinforced polymers (FRPs) and natural fibres, and Structural Health Monitoring of infrastructure in terms of reliability and safety;
  • Sustainable materials in construction particularly the reuse of materials and recycling of waste products
  • Sustainable building and infrastructure (e.g. renewable energies);
  • Engineering education from the perspective of a regional university; and
  • Engineering Heritage in a regional context.

Scholarship opportunities for international Higher Degree Research (HDR) students:

Australia Awards Scholarships

International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS)

Scholarship opportunities for domestic Higher Degree Research (HDR) students


Research Overview

Engineers are at the forefront of the transition to a carbon-constrained world. Sustainable technologies are required to allow the world to adapt whilst ensuring a good quality of life for all its residents. Engineers can provide these technologies only through innovation and entrepreneurship. However it must be recognised that a vital link is required to facilitate the work of engineers.

Our Purpose

Using 'Sustainable Technologies' to protect the environment and to  develop and offer sustainable and energy-saving solutions with low greenhouse gas emissions.


Sprayed Fibre Reinforced Polymer for strengthening timber beam/bridge girders.

All of the many changes that are required for this carbon transition involve engineers in their conception, development and implementation. There are many examples of sustainable innovations currently in the process of becoming reality through the applied skills of engineers of all disciplines. Sustainable materials in construction, designing structures using less carbon intensive materials and designing low carbon concrete to change the profile of the built environment are examples of sustainable innovations in civil engineering.

Sustainable Infrastructure

Civil and Environmental engineers, and particularly graduates, should use technologies in design and development to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and improve traditional construction techniques. This can be achieved by the evolution of engineering education, engineering curriculum, team leadership skills toward 'sustainable infrastructure'.

Alternative Engineering Solutions

Alternative engineering solutions for the repair, strengthening and maintenance to extend infrastructure service life can reduce the negative effect of constructing new structures and conserve our natural resources. One avenue through which the building industry is initiating the application of sustainable development principles in the design, construction, and operation of buildings is in the replacement of traditional technologies with technologies that have a reduced ecological, health, and environmental life cycle impact.

Some current research in key sustainable technologies

anchor devices for FRP 

Anchor devices for FRP-to-concrete members

Sustainable technologies include, but are not limited to, green roofs, high volume fly ash concrete or grey water recycling systems. The installation of environmental technologies in buildings is becoming more and more common with increased market awareness, popularity, and client interest in green buildings and design. In response to growing public interest and awareness, there has been an ever-increasing number of reference documents produced to guide decision makers in the creation, design, and construction of buildings with improved environmental performance, referred to as green buildings.

Areas of research include:

  • Anchor devices for strengthening RC, metallic and timber structures using natural fibres and FRP composites;
  • Structural health monitoring of infrastructure, particularly road/railway bridges and heritage buildings in terms of reliability and safety;
  • Sustainable materials in construction, particularly the reuse of materials and recycling of waste products, e.g. recycled concrete, glass as aggregate, polystyrene in concrete for insulation and lightweight properties;
  • Concrete technology;
  • Soil-structure interactions in concrete rafts slabs on reactive/expansive clay;
  • Sustainable buildings and infrastructure; and
  • Renewable energies.
Hydrological and Wastewater Engineering with Dr Janelle Wilkes

Janelle has research expertise in the monitoring of soil water and groundwater quality in agricultural productions systems; and hydrological modelling of acid sulphate wetlands. Current research projects include:

  • Monitoring and management of salt movement from beef cattle feedlots;
  • Environmental impact of sewage treatment plants (biosolids and wastewater) to land; and
  • Acid sulphate soil monitoring.
Research Student Opportunities


FRP-Web bonded system

The Engineering Discipline is recruiting honours and postgraduate students in areas of sustainable buildings and infrastructure, with a particular interest in the following topics.

  • Sustainable concrete using waste products
  • Damage detection and performance evaluation of FRP/SFRP-retrofitted RC and timber buildings
  • Bond behaviour and anchor devices for FRP-retrofitted concrete, metallic or timber structures

Further Information

Our People

Academic Staff

Dr Janelle Wilkes
Senior Lecturer
Animal Science, School of Environmental and Rural Science
Phone: +61 2 6773 2025

Dr James Turnell
School of Environmental and Rural Science
Phone:  +61 (02) 6773 3636


A/Prof Richard Faulkner
Richard is a Chartered Civil Engineer with some 40 years' experience. His background is in irrigation engineering, hydrology and water resources management.

A/Prof Robert Patterson

Bob is a soil scientist and environmental engineer. His general interests are in understanding and taking advantage of the interactions between soil, water and wastewater, particular for maintaining soil health.

Dr John Moore (Adjunct Lecturer).
John has worked as an Electronics Design Engineer for 38 years researching, and commercializing various communication, measurement and control systems,

Research Students

Abbas Vahedian (MSc CivilEng) (PhD candidate): Retrofitting of older timber buildings using Sprayed Fibre Reinforced Polymer (SFRP) composites. Supervised by Mr Glencross-Grant.

Robert Baker (PhD candidate): Potential for biofuels from natural algal communities in sewage treatment ponds: nutrients and zooplankton as regulatory process. Supervised by A/Prof Ryder (AERRG) and Dr Wilkes.

Yasser Maklad (MResSc candidate): Development of a practical, user-friendly decision-making tool for householders to help in their evaluation process of utilizing small scale wind turbines and/or solar photovoltaic panels as an alternative source of electricity.

Join Us

We're always on the look out for interested students to come and join the group. If the research on this site sounds interesting, then feel free to contact our staff and discuss some options. 

Living in Armidale

Armidale is a beautiful city, with distinct seasons. While it can be cold overnight in winter, the trade-off is glorious sunny days with little wind and clear skies. We are fortunate within a couple of hours drive of every habitat from deserts to rainforests to the coast. Armidale is also surrounded by many National Parks and reserves, so finding a close field site is easy!

Scholarship opportunities

For those looking for scholarships to fund PhD projects.


Concrete and Structural Facilities

  • New 300 kN Hydraulic Universal  Testing  Machine  with  long  gage  length  Extensometer,
  • 200  mm  G.L.,  25mm  travel  and  a  2,000  kN Compression Testing Machine with fully computerized and built-in data acquisition and data analysis systems,(Instron  USA)
  • multiple  data  logger  (including  strain  gauges),
  • LVDTs  as  well  as  new  laser sensors  which  can  be  used  for  lab-based  and  filed-based  testings.
  • Testing frame, which is equipped with a hydraulic jack with the capacity of 100 kN and another hydraulic jack  with  a  maximum  capacity  of  500  kN  is  available  at  the  project area  of  the  engineering  building. 

Soil Mechanics testing equipment

More details coming soon.

Complete surveying equipment

More details coming soon.