Prof who advised after 9/11 gives talk in Perth
series titled ‘Impossible Structures’.
His niche interest has led to him being involved in public inquiries such as why the buildings collpased on 9/11, the big Dubai hotel fire and more recently, the Grenfell Tower fire.
But rather than dwell on spectacular stories of dramatic infernos, the purpose of Luke’s talk in Perth is to engender public involvement and engagement with structural engineering.
He plans to concentrate of what he calls his “atypical existence” brought about by his scientific speciality: looking at what happens when fire takes hold of buildings and structures.
Professor Bisby is British but was brought up in Canada. He did a structural engineering PhD in what at the time was an obscure area of research - how buildings respond to high temperatures.
Then the World Trade Centre plane incident happened and “in the blink of an eye” he was one of a handful of people on the planet called to be at the centre of a massive enquiry into what had happened there in the most unpredicted of circumstances. Eleven years ago, the University of Edinburgh more of less created a post for him and got him over to be on its world-ranking fire safety team.
Luke now collaborates with The Address Downtown Hotel in Dubai
consultants, architects, fire scientists, regulators, sociologists and government to address the numerous issues relevant to fire safety in the built environment.
He explained that in his view, the whole point of structural engineering - bridges, water provision, tall buildings - is it should enable society and be largely invisible to the general public - until something goes wrong.
He added: “The goal of structural engineering is for everything to function perfectly without anyone noticing, Prof Luke Bisby
existing largely invisible in the public awareness. I think the starting point should be, ‘what does society expect from engineering?’ Society doesn’t get what it wants because it has never asked the questions.”
His focus now is on what can be done in future to improve the safety of big buildings.
Tickets £7, concessions for society members and school children free from www.psns.org.uk/programme/ and the talk starts at 7.30pm.