David Airey graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1979 with a BA in Engineering and stayed on to complete Masters and PhD degrees in Soil Mechanics. He took up a position as a research fellow at the University of Western Australia in 1987 and moved to the University of Sydney in 1989. Professor Airey was Acting Head of School of Civil Engineering during 2016. Professor David Airey’s research aims to improve our understanding of the ground’s response to construction and excavation so we can better assess the risks, reduce costs and build longer-lasting infrastructure.
“As well as buildings on land, my work has applications to offshore structures such as oil and gas platforms. The sand beneath these platforms can be made up of different particles from soils on land, including coral particles, making them behave differently. Understanding these soil types and their behaviours are crucial when sinking the foundations for these structures and ensuring that they’ll be stable and safe.
“One of the challenges of working with underground behaviours is that they’re all hidden – they’re out of sight, and usually out of mind. So my ultimate goal is to develop models that can effectively ‘see’ into the soil and, combined with other instruments, allow us to truly understand what’s going on under the ground.”