Personal details

Professor David Thambiratnam
Science and Engineering Faculty,
Civil Engineering and Built Environment,
Civil Engineering
Discipline *
Civil Engineering
+61 7 3138 1467
+61 7 3138 1170
View location details (QUT staff and student access only)
Identifiers and profiles

PhD (University of Manitoba), MSc (University of Manitoba), BScEng(Hons) (University of Ceylon)

Professional memberships
and associations
  • Fellow – IEAust (Institution of Engineers, Australia)
  • Fellow – ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers, UK)
  • Fellow – ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers)

Bridge Dynamics & Structural Health Monitoring, Disaster Mitigation of Structures, Impact and Energy Absorption of Structures, Impact pf RC structures and Capacity Enhancement, Seismic Response Of Structures, Slender Bridge and Floor Structures, Structural Dynamics And Vibration Of Structures, Structures Under Blast Loads, Mitigating the Severity of Level Crossing Accidents, Prestressed Force Determination in Prestressed COncrete Bridges

* Field of Research code, Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008


Professor Thambiratnam has 35 years of international experience gained in Sri Lanka, Canada, Singapore and Australia, including over 25 years of academic experience and over seven years of industrial experience. His most recent experience includes:

  • 1996 – present: Professor School of Civil Engineering & Built Environment, QUT
  • 1993 – 1996: Associate Professor School of Civil Engineering, QUT


Professor Thambiratnam is broadly focused on the theme of structural dynamics, focusing specifically on:

  • structural health monitoring
  • performance of structures under impact, blast and seismic loadings and disaster mitigation.

Structural health monitoring

Structures form an important part of civil infrastructure and are normally designed to have long life spans. But changes in load patterns, deterioration with age, environmental influences and random actions can cause distress in a structure Professor David Thambiratnam has been carrying out research in this area during the past 15 years, in collaboration with government bodies and industries and supported by ARC Grants.  He has monitored changes in vibration that affect the performance of some of Brisbane’s important bridges, including:

  • Story Bridge
  • Turbot Street exit ramp (a curved bridge)
  • Fig Tree Pocket Bridge
  • Macintosh Island Suspension Bridge, Gold Coast.

Professor Thambiratnam has carried out research in this area through a combination of experimental techniques, using sensors to monitor the vibrations of these structures, and dynamic computer simulations on the structural models.

Performance of structures under impact, blast and seismic loads and disaster mitigation

Accidental impacts, explosions and seismic events can have devastating effects on infrastructure and the need to mitigate the adverse effects of these actions is obvious. Professor David Thambiratnam has carried out research on the response of structures and structural systems to impact, blast and seismic load during the past 20 years,  supported by Australian Research Council (ARC) and industry grants. Several projects have been completed and have resulted in more than 60 PhD completions. Professor Thambiratnam’s research findings have been published in international refereed journals and conference proceedings and this has resulted in significant international recognition for research expertise in these areas. He has more than 400 publications in his research areas Major projects include:

  • Structural health monitoring of buildings and bridges (some projects funded by ARC grants)
  • Accident mitigation system at road- rail crossings (ARC funded project)
  • Pre-stressed force determination in pre-stressed concrete bridges (ARC funded project)
  • Intelligent system for self- evaluating damage in buildings (ARC funded project)
  • Innovative road safety barrier systems (ARC funded project – won international patent)
  • Impact and energy absorption of vehicle frontal protection systems (ARC funded project)
  • Impact response and energy absorption of  thin walled tubes (Industry funded project)
  • Impact and inelastic behaviour of roll over protective structures (ARC funded project)
  • Blast response of piles, facades and reinforced concrete buildings.
  • Response and mitigation of RC and composite columns under vehicular impacts
  • Seismic mitigation of building structures using embedded dampers
  • Composite beam column connections under monotonic & cyclic loads (ARC funded project)

The research was carried out through dynamic computer simulations supported by experimental testing. Some of the research findings are used in the industry for enhancing the safety of the structure, the impacting vehicle as well as the occupants.

Vibration of slender structures

Materials technology and aesthetic requirements of society have resulted in slender structures which exhibit excessive and complex vibration under human induced loads. This vibration in flexible bridges, cantilever grandstands, composite floors and cooling towers must be controlled to provide safety and comfort to users. Professor Thambiratnam has carried out research in this area for 20 years, both at QUT and prior to that at the National University of Singapore, for which he has received significant international recognition. Major projects include:

  • Vibration characteristics of slender footbridges
  • Vibration of steel deck composite floors under human induced loads
  • Assessing the vibration in post-tensioned flat slabs
  • Vibration of grandstand floors.

Research findings have been published widely and have drawn international attention.


Professor Thambiratnam has been continuously successful in attracting ARC, CRC and Industry Grants:

  •  total value of research grants is more than $5.2m
  •  cash value of ARC Grants more than $2.5m.

Selected grants:

  • 2016 – 2019: $390,000 – ARC Discovery Grant; Development of intelligent structures that can self-evaluate deterioration
  • 2015 – 2017: $350,000 – ARC Discovery Grant; Level crossing accident mitigation system
  • 2013 -2015: $322,000 – ARC Discovery Grant; Development of next generation prestressed concrete bridges using moving force identification
  • 2010 – 2013: $291,000 – ARC Linkage Grant; Industry Partner: Crowd Control Systems. Development of a novel flexible composite road safety barrier.
  • 2007 – 2010: $290,000 – ARC Linkage Grant; Industry Partners: QMRD and BCC. Structural health monitoring of bridges using vibration characteristics
  • 2002 – 2006: $85,000 – ARC Linkage Grant; Industry Partners: Dome-shells, Australia. Performance characteristics of an innovative structural system – Compound curved sandwich shell structure
  • 2003 – 2006: $48,000 – Industry Grant; Industry Partner: Ready-mix Concrete. Structural  behaviour of concrete pavements
  • 2002 – 2005: $102,000 – Industry Grant; Industry Partner: TJM Products Pty Ltd. Vehicle impact mitigation systems
  • 2001- 2004: $240,000 – ARC Spirt Grant; Industry Partner: Robert Bird Group. Inelastic behaviour and energy absorption of roll over protective structures
  • 1998 – 2000: $124,200 – ARC Spirt Grant; Industry Partners: TJM Products. Impact attenuation of frontal protection systems in passenger vehicles
  • 1997 – 2000: $144,740 – ARC Collaborative Grant; Industry Partners: Robert Bird Group. Composite beam-column connections under earthquake loading
  • 1993 – 1995: $105,000 – ARC Large Grant; Dynamic response of curved bridge structures.
  • 1992 – 1994: $90,000 – ARC Collaborative Grant Industry Partners: QLD Railway. Structural behaviour of railway tracks


Awards and recognition

  •  Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship
  • University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship
  • Commendation by Applied Research Corporation, Singapore
  • Commended by the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka for professional work.
  • Higher Degree Supervision Award, 2006 and 2010
  • Vice Chancellor’s Performance Award, 2008 and 2010
  •  STEM Award 2010 for Outstanding Supervision of HDR students.
  • International Patent for Innovative Road Safety Barrier System (2015)
This information has been contributed by Professor David Thambiratnam.


Teaching grants
Professor Thambiratnam has attracted a number of Teaching and Learning Grants, and has carried out projects on teaching and published findings.
Teaching areas

  • Structural Analysis and Design
  • Structural Dynamics
  • Structural Design
  • Finite Element Methods
  • Engineering Mechanics.


This information has been contributed by Professor David Thambiratnam.


Interests and Community Service

  • Editorial Board – Regular International Conferences: SEMC (South Africa) and Civil Comp (Europe)
  • Member – Review Board of more than 10 international journals
  • International Expert Reviewer – ARC Grants and Research Grants from UK, South Africa, Israel and Hong Kong.
This information has been contributed by Professor David Thambiratnam.


For more publications by this staff member, visit QUT ePrints, the University's research repository.

Research projects

Grants and projects (Category 1: Australian Competitive Grants only)

Mitigating the Severity of Level Crossing Accidents and Derailments
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
Start year
Impact Dnamics; Level Crossing; Accident
Development of next generation prestressed concrete bridges using moving force identification
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
Start year
Prestressed Concrete Bridges; Moving Force Identification; Structural Health Monitoring
A New Generation High Crash Energy Absorbing Barrier for Improved Road Safety
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
Start year
Road Safety Barrier; Crash Energy Absorption; Flexible; Polymeric Foams; Composites
Monitoring and Maintaining the Structural Health of Bridges Using Vibration Characteristics
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
Start year
Vibration; Sensors; Computer Simulation; Bridges; Damage; Structural Health;
Performance Characteristics of an Innovative Structural System - Compound Curved Sandwich Shell Structure.
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
Start year
compoundcurved shell structures; computer simulations; full scale testing; sandwich shells; finite element analysis; design and evaluation