School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Dr Sean Wilkinson

Reader in Structural Engineering



I am a structural engineer specialising in earthquake engineering. The aim of my research is to help develop communities that are resilient to natural hazard. I believe the best way of achieving this is by understanding how critical infrastructure responds in a disaster and what role it has  in protecting communities. My specific methodology is to identify robust network architectures for critical infrastructure systems that are insensitive to the magnitude of the hazard to which they may be exposed  and therefore suffer minimum disruption in the event of a disaster. This is an extension of the way earthquake engineers design their buildings whereby they treat them as systems that have ductile modes of failure which can absorb vast amounts of energy without collapse (bend not break). I also teach these concepts in my structural engineering design classes as well as teaching my specific expertise of earthquake engineering. 


 PhD QUT 1997, Meng QUT 1991, Beng QIT 1986


Committee member for the Society for Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics

Chairman of the Earthquake Field Investigation Team

Industrial Experience

Worked as a Civil and Structural Engineering for Ove Arup and Partners in Brisbane Australia before returning to academia at Queensland University of Technology.  Seconded to Robert Bird and Partners in 1997 to design seismically resistant high-rise building in Indonesia, before moving to my present position.


Research Interests

Resilient communities, Critical infrastructure, Earthquake engineering, Extreme loadings, Future design wind speeds

Other Expertise: Design of High-rise buildings, lifeline engineering, network reliability

Postgraduate Supervision

Sarah Dunn - Making Resilient Communities for the 21st Century
Matthew Holmes, Resilience of water supply networks
Tom Pickering - Vulnerability curves for electricity distribution systems
Alan Richardson Graduated  2008
Mahdi Al Yami Graduated 2009
Michael Kyakula Graduated 2004  

Esteem Indicators

Reviewer for the Royal society of New Zealand
Reviewer for the Georgian National Science Foundation
Mission Leader EEFIT mission 20 2009 Padang Earthquake
Academic Leader EEFIT mission to 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami
Society for Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics  committee member
Chairman of the Earthquake Field Investigation Team

Invited Lectures

  • Securing the Resilience of Critical Infrastructure Systems. Invited lecture at Interdisciplinary Perspectives: Measures and Models of Resilience 1-2 November 2012; hosted by Rockefeller Foundation and Oxford Martin School
  • Increasing Community Resilience and Prosperity through the Provision of  Critical Infrastructure. Invited Speaker, Queensland University of Technology, 8 April 2013 
  • The Christchurch Earthquake of 22 March 2011. Invited Speaker, Institution of Structural Engineers, EEFIT meeting
  • The Vulnerability of the European Air Traffic Network to Spatial Hazards; Presentation for the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, 15 February 2011
  • Are our Air Traffic Networks Particularly Vulnerable to Spatial Hazards? Presentation for the University of Colorado at Boulder, 7 February 2011
  • The Padang Earthquake of September 30 2009. Invited Speaker at Institution of Structural Engineers, EEFIT meeting
  • The Indian Ocean Tsunami: Lessons Learnt and the Engineers’ Response. Invited Speaker at a joint meeting of the ICE Maritime Board and The Society of Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics, 7th February, Institution of Civil Engineers
  • The Indian Ocean Tsunami of 26 December 2004 field mission. Invited Speaker at the Institution of Structural Engineers on 5 April 2005
  • Lessons from the Tsunami Disaster, December 2004. Invited Speaker at Institution of Structural Engineers, Northern Counties Branch, 8 November 2005 Central Square, Newcastle and 10 January 2005, Sporting Lodge Inn, Stainton, Middlesbrough
  • The 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami – Findings of the EEFIT Mission to the Area. Invited Speaker Institution of Engineers Australia, 11 November 2005

Current Funding

EEFIT Earthquake Mission Grant: Funding for improved response and dissemination; March 2011 - March 2016  (PI £205,000) 

RESNET Resilience and Electricity Networks in the UK; September 2011 - August 2015; £1.4M (PI NCL £415,000)

ECISE Enabling CLimate Information Services for Europe February 2011 – May 2014 (Co-PI £170,000)

Infrastructure reliability and adaptation - STREAM Cohort II Project; October 2010 – Sept 2014 (PI £58,000)

PLATFORM GRANT: Earth Systems Engineering: Sustainable systems engineering for adapting to global change Co-Investigator, £1.3M, December 2008 – November 2013 (joined 2011)

Past Funding

Post Earthquake Field Investigation of the Padang Earthquake 29 December 2009, £33,500 EPSRC funded, November 2009 

Post Earthquake Field Investigation of the Indian Ocean Tsunami 26 December 2004; January 2005;  £6,751 EPSRC funded.

Effects of Higher Modes On the Collapse Behaviour of Buildings.  May 2002 - April 2004; £60,000; EPSRC funded research grant. 

Steel Bearing Pile Market Survey, funded by Corus, 2005; £12,000

British Council Link Programme – Ghana RES/4562/7002; April 2000 - March 2001;  £12,516 British Council ;  


Undergraduate Teaching

CEG2302 Steel and Concrete Structures -  Module leader (100%)
CEG8303 Seismic Resistant Design -  Module leader (100%)
CEG 2001 Design of Sustainable Engineering Systems 2

Postgraduate Teaching

CEG8303 Seismic Resistant Design -  Module leader (100%)