Vice-Chancellor Deborah Terry and Rio Tinto's Chief Advisor Geotechnical Martyn Robotham at the launch of the new Geotechnical Engineering Centre
Vice-Chancellor Deborah Terry and Rio Tinto's Chief Advisor Geotechnical Martyn Robotham at the launch of the new Geotechnical Engineering Centre
31 August 2012

The University of Queensland’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Deborah Terry, will officially launch the Geotechnical Engineering Centre on Monday 3 September 2012.

The new Centre responds to the growing demand for qualified geotechnical engineers in Australia.

Established within UQ’s School of Civil Engineering, the Geotechnical Engineering Centre is supported by international ground engineering consultant Golder Associates, and international mining companies Rio Tinto, Anglo Gold Ashanti and BHP Billiton.

Each industry partner will support the centre through a $150,000 contribution per year, which will be matched by the University, totalling $6 million over five years.

The funding will support Chairs in geomechanics and rock mechanics, lecturing positions in rock mechanics and hydrogeology, postdoctoral positions, undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships, and specialist geotechnical testing equipment.

Under the new Geotechnical Engineering Centre, UQ is offering a civil & geotechnical engineering dual major, and a mining & geotechnical engineering dual major, both of which are unique in Australia.

In addition, four geotechnical engineering scholarships worth $10,000 per year are offered to meritorious undergraduate students for years two, three and four of their programs.

Geotechnical Engineering Centre Director, Professor David Williams said the Centre would produce much sought after civil and mining engineering graduates with a specialisation in geotechnical engineering.

This would meet the strong demand by the Australian construction and mining industries.

“Geotechnical engineering programs commenced in Semester 1 this year," Professor Williams said.

"Enrolments have seen a dramatic rise over the first two semesters, with approximately 60 graduates expected each year from 2014.

“Our total student cohort undertaking geotechnical engineering across all years is currently over 100, and is expected to reach 200.

"This makes it one of the largest dual major programs in engineering at UQ, and the only one in Australia.”

Rio Tinto’s Chief Advisor Geotechnical and Chair of the Centre’s Industry Advisory Board, Martyn Robotham said the creation of UQ’s Geotechnical Engineering Centre represented the culmination of almost two years of planning undertaken by the sponsors and the University.

“The number of students enrolling in the dual major programs demonstrates that there is great interest in the geotechnical engineering discipline, and bodes well in terms of filling industry needs both in the areas of mining and construction,” Mr Robotham said.

The Centre offers two top-up scholarships worth $10,000 to meritorious PhD students in the final year of their studies.

The Geotechnical Engineering Centre will be launched at The University of Queensland’s Art Museum on Monday, 3 September 2012.

Media: Professor David Williams (, +61 7 3365 3642) or Madelene Flanagan,, telephone +61 7 336 58525