Atop of the Bridge

9 December 2013

PhD candidate James Reynolds
PhD candidate James Reynolds

University of Sydney PhD candidate James Reynolds will feature in the TV series Australia Coast interviewed atop of Sydney's iconic Harbour Bridge in tonight's 'Sydney' episode airing at 7.30pm.

The young civil engineer was interviewed for his expert knowledge on the 1920's construction of the bridge affectionately dubbed 'the coat hanger'.

James, a Bachelor of Engineering and a Bachelor of Commerce graduate (first class honours), conducted an in-depth investigation of the bridge's construction techniques as part of his honours year. He says the precision, size and complexity of the Harbour Bridge astounded him.

"When it was completed, it was the second longest bridge of its type in the world, spanning half a kilometre. Without the aid of modern computer design this would have been a very complex task to say the least.

"When I think about it, the statistics are phenomenal, over 52, 000 tonne of steel and 6 million rivets were used to construct it and the precision and beauty of this structure is a tribute to the workers, the engineer and their families," he says.

James has recently completed a four year PhD project. His research thesis focussed on construction safety and reusable scaffold construction systems.

"I wanted to assist the industry in understanding the complex relationships between components, this involved a probabilistic advanced non-linear analysis of steel scaffold systems to maximise their safety and minimise component use," he says.

"My aim was to developed new analytical and statistical frameworks for the formwork and scaffolding industry. The research also involved derivation of more accurate construction load statistics for future design of formwork."

James says the consequences of failure due to under-design is a major risk to the safety of workers and the general public not to mention the financial cost. His thesis will be published early next year.

Coast Australia is hosted by the celebrity Scottish archaeologist, Neil Oliver and is currently airing on Foxtel's History Channel on Monday nights. The Australian series filmed earlier this year is modelled on the highly successful British series of a similar name.

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Media Contact: Victoria Hollick, 02 9351 2579, 0401 711 361,