Professor Robert Mair CBE, FREng, FRS
Sir Kirby Laing Professor of Civil Engineering
Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Principal Investigator, Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction
University of Cambridge
Robert Mair was appointed Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at Cambridge University in 1998. He is Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering and was Master of Jesus College 2001-2011. He was a Fellow of St John's College from 1998 to 2001. He is also one of the founding Directors of the Geotechnical Consulting Group (GCG), an international consulting company based in London, started in 1983. He was appointed Chief Engineering Adviser to the Laing O’Rourke Group in 2011.
Throughout his career he has specialised principally in underground construction, providing advice on numerous projects world-wide involving soft ground tunnelling, retaining structures, deep excavations and foundations. Recent international projects have included railway tunnels in the cities of Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Singpapore and Warsaw, and motorway tunnels in Turkey. In the UK he has been closely involved with the design and construction of the Jubilee Line Extension for London Underground, and with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (now HS1) and Crossrail projects. He was responsible for the introduction of compensation grouting in the UK as a novel technique for controlling settlement of structures during tunnel construction - on the Waterloo Escalator Tunnel Project. The technique was widely used on the Jubilee Line Extension Project for the protection of many historic buildings, including the Big Ben Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster.
He has been a member of Expert Review Panels on major international underground construction projects, and is currently Co-Chair of the International Advisory Board for the Singapore Land Transport Authority, advising on design and construction aspects of all underground transport tunnels and deep excavations in Singapore. He was a member of the French Government Commission of Enquiry into the collapse of a road tunnel in Toulon.
He has published many papers, mainly on the geotechnical aspects of soft ground tunnelling and excavations and has been an invited lecturer at universities and conferences in many countries. He delivered the Institution of Civil Engineers Unwin Memorial Lecture in 1992, the Theme Lecture on Bored Tunnelling in the Urban Environment at the International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering at Hamburg in 1997, the Sir Harold Harding Memorial Lecture at the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1998, the Terzaghi Lecture in Vienna and the Szechy Memorial Lecture in Budapest in 2001, the Jiminez Salas Lecture in Madrid in 2003, the Paviors Lecture in London in 2004 and the Jennings Lecture in Johannesburg in 2005. He delivered the Rankine Lecture in 2006, the Muir Wood Lecture in Helsinki in 2011, and the Keynote Lecture at the 15th European Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering in Athens in 2011.
Robert Mair was awarded the British Geotechnical Society Prize in 1980 for his work on tunnels, the Institution of Civil Engineers Geotechnical Research Medal in 1994 and their Gold Medal in 2004. He has been a Board Member of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering (ISSMGE), and for 10 years was Chairman of its Technical Committee (TC 28) on Underground Construction in Soft Ground. He gave evidence to a House of Lords Select Committee on the Crossrail project in London and is a member of Crossrail’s Engineering Expert Panel.
He leads a major research group at Cambridge and is Principal Investigator for the Innovation and Knowledge: Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction, funded by EPSRC/TSB and industry to a total value of £17m. He chaired the Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering Review of Shale Gas Extraction in the UK; the report was published in June 2012.
He is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (its Senior Vice-President 2008-2011), and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was awarded a CBE in the 2010 New Year's Honours list.