School of Civil Engineering

Projects in coastal engineering

Project 1. Freight pipeline feasibility

Supervisor: Dr David Callaghan; Prof. Mark Hickman (on transport related ideas)

Government and industry: Robert Schwartz (Queensland government) & Michael Pelling

Freight pipelines are a novel transport approach that is gaining traction and funding (e.g., being funded by Elon Musk). While there are many proposals, this project/thesis will undertake a feasibility analysis of a locally developed proposal potentially for transport between port and none port cities (e.g., Brisbane and Toowoomba) or between port cities quicker than by ship (and potentially approaching just-in-time speeds).

The feasibility study will involve the following main aspects: hydraulic feasibility (i.e., no physics reason why it is impossible), economic feasibility and transport feasibility. While this project/thesis involves basic hydraulics, its focus is their feasibility.

Skills obtained in this project are directly applicable to working in the start-up sector, engineering research and design sector, product development industry and the traditional engineering consultancy sector.

Available to: Civil Engineering, Hydraulic Engineering


Project 2. Coral Atolls and Lagoons

Supervisor: Dr David Callaghan; Prof. Tom Baldock

Coral atolls and lagoons are increasing becoming stressed by climate change leading to different responses to wave forcing. In particular, a recent UQ study indicated about half of the coral loss in the GBR was a result of tropical cyclone active over the past 20 years. In order to increase our knowledge of future impacts on reef systems from cyclonic waves, a better understanding of wave dissipation and forcing on individual corals is required. There has been many barriers in the past in undertaking such laboratory measurements, i.e., making mimics to scale. These barriers have been overcome in recent years with 3D printing and prototyping techniques. This Thesis/Project topic involves initial development of coral mimics using 3D printing and steady flow testing to measure drag forces under a range of depths and coral densities.

Available to: Civil Engineering, Hydraulic Engineering


Project 3. Coastal Erosion

Supervisor: Dr David Callaghan; Dr Teakle

Estimates and measurements of coastal erosion from storms and recession from longer term forcing are used by coastal planners to manage the coast in active management scenarios (i.e., Gold Coast beach nourishment). There are a few locations around the world that have enough field measurements to adequately assess historical erosion and recession levels, with the Gold Coast and Narrabeen Beach (NSW) being two notable exceptions (and possibility the two best data sets worldwide). This project will extend EVO modelling, already completed at the Gold Coast by a Brisbane consultant engineer (Dr Teakle) to Narrabeen Beach, which is well known to Dr Callaghan. EVO is a shoreline evolutionary model developed by Dr Teakle and others from his consultancy firm, to estimate in combination beach erosion and recession. Skills obtained by student(s) completing this project/thesis including coastal area modelling of waves, currents and sediment transport, field measurements and model output processing and presentation and model development. This project/thesis is an excellence introduction to consultancy work (including supervision by Dr Teakle, an experienced consultant in Brisbane) while including educational based supervision (Dr Callaghan).

Available to: Civil Engineering, Hydraulic Engineering


Project 4. Fluid drag reduction of streamlined shapes at low Reynolds number

Supervisor: Dr David Callaghan; Mr Jesper Nielsen

There are numerous instances in engineering, sporting and the natural world where minimising fluid drag forces is advantageous. At high Reynolds numbers the boundary layer transitions from laminar to turbulent on the fore of a streamlined body permitting the fluid to flow around the body without separation. At lower Reynolds numbers this transition does not occur, the flow separates and thus the drag forces are relatively high.

This project will attempt to reduce the drag of streamlined bodies at low Reynolds numbers. This is analogous to how the dimples on a golf ball achieve reduced drag on a non-streamlined body.

Students will develop skills in the fluids laboratory, on the water jet cutter and in the workshop whilst honing their analytical and research skills. A solution would have wide reaching implications and may be patentable.

Available to: Civil Engineering, Water Engineering


Project 5. Table tennis inspired diffuser design, clearing up the Brisbane River

Supervisor: Dr David Callaghan; Mr Jesper Nielsen

The muddiness of the Brisbane River may be largely attributable to the vertical density gradients within the River, where the heavier salty water underlies lighter fresher water. Thus a means to break up the density gradient by mixing the water column is sought. Conventional diffusers are energy hogs however my utilising the Magnus effect, the effect which makes a table tennis ball with backspin overcome gravity and swing upwards, a diffuser which sources its energy from the tidal flow could be developed.

Students will develop skills in the fluids laboratory and in the workshop whilst honing their analytical and research skills. A solution would have wide reaching implications and may be patentable.

Available to: Civil Engineering, Water Engineering


Project 6. Analysis of field and laboratory images for coastal dynamics

Supervisor: Dr David Callaghan; Dr Uriah Gravois

Coastal towns around Australia are exceptionally exposed to climate change as sea level rises and mean wave directions change as weather systems move more polar. This project will use recently collected images of one such coastal village to quantify coastal dynamics. Full scale coastal imaging analysis will be combined with laboratory wave flume experiments and video collection for method development and validation. This thesis will include site visits, laboratory exposure, image and video analysis and simple coastal dynamic modelling using the output from image analysis. Skills obtained during this thesis include image/video analysis, laboratory testing, data analysis and dynamic modelling.

Available to: Everyone

Prerequisite: CIVL3140


Project 7. Uncertainty of wave modelling from tropical cyclones moving through the Great Barrier Reef

Supervisor: Dr David Callaghan; Dr Matthew Mason

Understanding the propagation of uncertainty in wind sequent wave modelling from tropical cyclones moving through the GBR. Understanding these uncertainties helps with quantifying wave impact on GBR corals structures and beach erosion and accretion that occur during these events.

Spatial and temporal scales of forcing uncertainty, as tropical cyclones move through coastal waters within the GBR, vary significantly. This is qualitatively different to previous work in which spatial scales over which forcing is applied was similar to metrological system applying it. Within the GBR, there are a range of spatial scales at play, from a few kilometres to hundreds of kilometres. Similarly, there are slow and fast moving tropical cyclone events, thus varying the temporal scale.

During this project, students will develop wind and wave modelling skills, high performance computing skills and basic coding skills

Available to: Civil and/or environmental engineering students


Project 8. Wooli Coastal Study

Supervisor: Dr David Callaghan

The coastal town on Wooli, NSW, is exceptionally exposed to climate change (see google earth). This project will review the current coastal dynamic studies in light of new climate change predictions, develop wave transformation and apply simply erosion rules to look at potential range of climate change impacts and the adaptation required for Wooli settlement to remain. The thesis will include site visits, interviewing local residents that have strong historical knowledge of the coast and coastal modelling (waves, sediment transport and morphology).

Available to: Civil Engineering, Water Engineering

Prerequisite: CIVL3140


Project 9. Locating and evaluating boat ramp sites within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, involving Coastal, Policy, Regulatory and Community constraints

Supervisor: Dr David Callaghan

The Gloucester District, between Bowen and Airlie Beach has no all tide access to the Northern Whitsundays. Gaining all tide access has been a priority for the QLD govt since its “Demand Forecasting Study” of 2011. To facilitating this community project, this project/thesis will identify several possible sites, in calibration with this community, and assess each site for suitability from the following perspectives

•         Coastal Engineering (for example, usable days per year, sediment transport and erosion impacts and safety during cyclonic conditions).

•         Social/Urban development (for example, distance from community, access between communities, access to natural resources)

•         Civil Engineering (for example, access, car and trailer parking, cost)?

This project will initially involve evaluation of existing studies, working with community representatives, to identify refinements and missing or incorrect data, which will be obtained once identified.

Skills obtained include: critical assessment of existing engineering works, wind wave modelling, sediment transport modelling, transport and community assessments, working with communities and civil engineering works (design and costing).

Available to: Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering