It's all in the cracks

Join Professor Robert Vollum, online or in person, for his Imperial Inaugural.

We have limited in-person spaces available so please ensure you register in advance.

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Concrete structures are all around us and fundamental to structural engineer’s role in a more sustainable future for our bult environment. Driven by the need to recycle, rather than rebuild, assessment will increasingly become their bread and butter where they will have to face the challenge of determining the influence of cracks in older structure on performance.

In his inaugural lecture, Professor Robert Vollum will discuss the relationship between design standards and fundamental research. With a running theme of cracking, he will highlight the importance of experimental research in understanding the behaviour of reinforced concrete structures and the development of design models. He will show that understanding the load transfer mechanisms through cracked concrete is fundamental to the understanding the behaviour of members loaded in shear before setting some challenges for the future.


Professor Robert Vollum joined Imperial College as a Lecturer in the early 1990s following a decade of working in industry.  He has been a Reader in concrete structures since 2011.  Dr Vollum’s research interests are wide, encompassing the following topics: long-term deflections of reinforced concrete slabs, beam-column joints, shear in beams, punching shear, numerical modelling of reinforced concrete structures, strut and tie modelling, and control of early age thermal cracking.

He has developed a method for predicting the deflection of slabs that takes construction loading into account. The numerical work was calibrated with data from the in-situ concrete building at BRE Cardington with which he was closely involved. More recently, he led an EPSRC project (EP/D505488/1) which developed a design method for using concrete blinding as struts in cut and cover excavations. Recent work has focused on punching shear in flat slabs as well as shear enhancement near supports of beams. Currently, he is co-leading an EPSRC project (EP/T004142/1) into the cracking behaviour of reinforced concrete elements subjected to the restraint of imposed strains. This is a joint project with the University of Leeds (EP/T004185/1).

Professor Vollum also represents Concrete Society on BSI Committee for EC2 B/525/2 Structural Use of Concrete. He is a member of the subgroup of B/525/2 which is responsible for developing and maintaining the UK National Annex to EC2. He is also the UK technical expert on TG4 of  WG1/CEN/TC 250/SC 2. TG4 is the European committee which is considering revisions to shear, punching and torsion in the next version of EC2 which is due in 2020. He is also a member of fib Task Group 4.2 which evaluates and develops models for ultimate limit states of concrete structures.

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