Prof who ad­vised af­ter 9/11 gives talk in Perth

Perthshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Ex­pert

Fire

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