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AI applications in civil and ground engineering

Event organised by ICE

07 March 2024

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Artificial Intelligence will impact on almost all aspects of our lives, including our working lives. Advancements in computing power have made AI technology far more accessible in recent years meaning that the range of applications is expanding rapidly.

Everyone has heard of AI but few of us actually understand what it is and how it works. There will be a high level overview of AI as an introduction to this talk. Having established a degree of understanding of AI there will be a look at the range of applications where AI is already fully embedded and the impact that it has had.

In terms of the application of AI in civil and ground engineering there will be an exploration of some of  current work where, over the last three to four years, AI based analytical systems have been developed to assist with the optimisation of hard rock quarrying production.

These applications span all aspects of quarrying from understanding the geological characteristics of the quarried rock, design of blasting, image analysis of the blast pile, analysis of ground borne vibration and air-overpressure and real time analysis of the processed aggregates at all stages of the production process.

There will also be an overview of current work that is looking to employ AI for the recognition and characterisation of peatlands and other critical habitats with a view to providing objective quantification of impacts and also habitat creation benefits.

Finally, there will be thoughts on where AI is heading in the industry and where in the near term impacts are likely to be most significant. This will involve consideration of what this could mean in terms of the way in which engineering services (and other service industries) are structured and provided in future. There will then be the inevitable debate – “what are we all going to be doing 10 years from now?”   


Ewan Mcmillan

Ewan Mcmillan

NewGradient Ltd

managing director

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Ewan Mcmillan

Ewan graduated from Edinburgh University with a degree in theoretical physics and during his time at University became fascinated with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

While still an undergraduate Ewan became convinced by the profound potential for AI to impact all aspects of our lives and devoted his time outside his formal studies to researching and learning the techniques required to build state of the art AI systems.

Ewan's realisation of the capabilities of AI and its unfulfilled potential in most industries lead him to found NewGradient Ltd. Since founding in 2019 NewGradient has built a small team who have worked across sectors such as, land restoration, smart security, e-commerce, and the extractive industries to develop and apply state of the art specialized AI systems.

Paul McMillan

Paul McMillan

Ground Engineering Applied Research Services (GEARS) ltd

managing director

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Paul McMillan

Paul graduated from Dundee University in 1986 with a degree in Geology and has worked in engineering consultancy and applied research ever since. Paul started his career at Babtie, Shaw and Morton (which became the Babtie Group and eventually Jacobs) before, in 1992, he moved to the Transport Research Lab (TRL) to head up the rock engineering research team in Livingstone.

Having become part of the Senior Management Team at TRL Paul then left to join Fairhurst in 2000 to lead the Geotechnical and Geo-environmental part of the business and eventually became a Partner.

Paul set up GEARS ltd. in 2017 to pursue his interests in near market ground engineering related research and this led to the current collaborative programme of research with NewGradient ltd. 

For more information please contact:

Lyndsey Pollock


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