Professor Matthew Gilbert


Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

Professor of Civil Engineering

CIV Matthew Gilbert
Profile picture of CIV Matthew Gilbert
+44 114 222 5418

Full contact details

Professor Matthew Gilbert
Department of Civil and Structural Engineering
Room F114
Sir Frederick Mappin Building (Broad Lane Building)
Mappin Street
S1 3JD

Computational modelling and optimisation enable us to predict the response of components and structures, and to identify improved designs.

Professor Matthew Gilbert

Matthew holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Sheffield and a PhD from the University of Manchester. After a short period spent working in industry he returned to the University of Sheffield, where he has been a member of academic staff since 1996.

In his research Matthew seeks to develop a deeper understanding of the behaviour of components and structures so they can be used efficiently or manipulated to meet specific needs.

He focuses on the design of new, resource efficient, structures and constructions, taking advantage of optimisation and new manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing. Matthew also works to assess the strength and safety of our ageing masonry arch bridges.

He develops guidance sponsored by the UK Department for Transport and other bodies to help them maintain existing infrastructure in order to prolong its life and protect the safety of the public.

From 2004-2009 Matthew held an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship, focusing on the development of novel analysis and design optimisation techniques for application to a wide range of problems.

Research Themes







  • Gilbert M, Cole G, Smith C & Melbourne C (2022) Guidance on the Assessment of Masonry Arch Bridges. CIRIA. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles

Research group

Computational Mechanics & Design

Intelligent Infrastructure



This 26 partner project focuses on the development of methods to allow direct energy deposition (DED) additive manufacturing processes to be applied reliably to the manufacture of large metallic parts.

Exploiting the resilience of masonry arch bridge infrastructure

The goal of this project is to provide those responsible for the management of bridges with a powerful suite of analysis modelling tools and a robust overarching multi-level framework capable of being applied to the diverse population of masonry arch bridges in-service today (i.e. undamaged, damaged and repaired).

Masonry arch bridges containing internal spandrels

This project involves numerical modelling studies and parallel medium-scale laboratory tests on bridges containing internal spandrel walls. The aim is to improve our understanding of the behaviour of bridges containing internal spandrel walls, and to develop methods that can be used with confidence by bridge assessment engineers.

Practical 3D model of masonry arch bridges and tunnel linings

The decision support tools currently used by bridge owners and their consultants tend to be highly simplified, and incapable of identifying bridges which are likely to deteriorate under traffic loads, and of diagnosing the causes of a range of commonly encountered defects.

Professional activities and memberships
  • Co-founder and Managing Director of the University spin-out company LimitState Ltd. The company specialises in the development of novel analysis and design software applications which make use of methods developed in the University. LimitState software is now used by >150 industry organizations in >30 countries.
  • Chartered Civil Engineer
  • Organisations sponsoring his research have included EPSRC, Innovate UK, Network Rail, Buro Happold, Expedition Engineering and the International Union of Railways (UIC).
  • Recipient of the ICE Baker Medal (2007) and the IStructE Husband Award (1999) for published journal papers.
Potential PhD offerings

3d Computational Limit Analysis Of Masonry Structures

this project will involve extending existing 2D rigid block analysis software (e.g. to 3D, permitting domes, skew masonry arch bridges, etc. to be analysed. An interest in computer programming would be an advantage.

Design Synthesis Of Frames: Application Of Adaptivity

This project is concerned with the development of efficient adaptive methods applicable to trusses, with the ultimate aim of developing robust tools which can be applied by structural engineers and architects to the initial design of structures such as space frames roofs and pylons.

Structural Optimisation Of Concrete Elements Constructed With Digitally Fabricated Formworks

This research project is a collaboration between the University of Sheffield, the Integrated Civil and Infrastructure Research Centre (ICAIR), and Laing O Rourke, a large UK construction company. It aims to address these issues by utilising cutting-edge fabrication techniques and formwork technologies (e.g. wax 3D printed formworks) to enable structurally optimised building elements to be produced, considering their role at the assembly/construction scale.