Bristol student wins ICE award for paper on sustainable landslide solution

A civil engineering student at the University of Bristol has won the South West Emerging Engineers Award for 2020 with an academic paper on the effectiveness of live willow poles in stabilising roadside slopes and banks.

Cora Fung has won the South West Emerging Engineers Award for 2020
Cora Fung has won the South West Emerging Engineers Award for 2020

Cora Fung, who is in the final year of an MEng in Civil Engineering, impressed the judging panel with her in-depth knowledge, clear presentation and focus on sustainability, to win this year's South West Emerging Engineers award.

The award promotes excellence in the originality and communication of civil engineering ideas and research. It’s given annually to a civil engineering student or graduate who lives, works or studies in the region.

Miranda Housden, ICE regional director, commented: 

“We are extremely impressed with the standard and quality of work shown by students and graduates in the South West. It was particularly difficult for the judges to pick a winner from such a strong field. Given this, Cora should be very proud of her achievement. Her subject matter is particularly relevant and valuable for our times. I hope that Cora will continue to develop her passion for bioengineering throughout her career.”

Landslides are amongst the most common hazards affecting the UK highways network. Cora’s study, Landslide Mitigation for Highways England Assets: Willow Poles as a Sustainable Solution, seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of planting live willow poles to stabilise slopes. To fulfil this aim, she considers different slope and soil properties, alongside various hydrological and meteorological scenarios.

Cora said: “I am grateful to have received this award. Entering this competition and presenting the findings of my final year research project was highly rewarding. I am happy that members of the panel recognise the importance of innovative sustainable methods in geotechnical design.

"I look forward to presenting my work in the upcoming national final and hope that I will be able to further my professional development in this area upon my graduation. I believe that entering this competition would be beneficial for ambitious young engineers, allowing them to improve their written communication skills and become more confident in presenting their ideas.”

This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the South West Emerging Engineers final was held online instead of in front of a live audience, but despite the altered format, the competition attracted a record number of entries.

The judging panel decided to award two runner-up prizes to reflect the high standard of candidates. They went to Lucy Stephenson, a graduate, based at Arup in Bristol, for a discussion article on the impact of a potential Tidal Range Energy scheme in the Mersey Estuary in relation to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; and Conner Kearey, a final year civil engineering student at the University of Plymouth, for a paper on an experimental study examining the strength of Martian soil simulants to inform thinking about future construction on the ‘Red Planet’.