Dr Colin Smith

Dr Colin Smith

Senior Lecturer

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering
Sir Frederick Mappin Building
Mappin Street, Sheffield, S1 3JD

Telephone: +44 (0) 114 222 5717
Fax: +44 (0) 114 222 5700
Email: c.c.smith@sheffield.ac.uk
Room: E106


MA, PhD (Cantab.)


Colin Smith graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1987. He joined the Cambridge Soil Mechanics research group in the same year and completed a PhD in 1991. Following 2 years as a research associate at Cambridge he moved to the University of Sheffield in 1992 where is now a Senior Lecturer.

His main research interests focus on:

  • Limit analysis and optimization in geotechnics: development of new numerical and analytical tools, including development of a new numerical technique Discontinuity Layout Optimization (DLO) for solution of plasticity problems and its application in a range of areas including offshore and unsaturated soils.
  • Masonry arch bridge analysis, modelling and assessment, including the development of a full scale plane strain testing tank for soil structure interaction in masonry arch bridges in collaboration with the University of Salford.
  • Design code development focusing on theory and application of design codes using numerical methods and Eurocode 7.
  • Unsaturated soil-structure interaction. Soil physics, soil-biology interaction and micromechanics.

The experimental work has a strong basis in physical modelling, supported in particular by innovative digital imaging techniques. Whilst at Sheffield his research has been funded by EPSRC, NERC and industry.

He is co-founder of a University spin-out company LimitState Ltd. The company specialises in the development of novel ultimate limit state analysis and design software applications which make use of research methods developed in the University, including LimitState:GEO, a rapid tool for geotechnical limit analysis in use in industry and universities in over 30 countries across the world.

His teaching portfolio includes teaching of geotechnical analysis and design at undergraduate and MSc level. He has led four externally funded teaching development projects within the Department, and contributed to several teaching publications.

Activities and Distinctions

  • Member of the editorial advisory panels of 'Computers and Geotechnics' and 'ICE Journal of Engineering and Computational Mechanics'. Past member of the editorial advisory panel of 'Geotechnique'.
  • Secretary to the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering Technical Committee TC205 'Limit State Design'.
  • Awarded the 2007 ICE Baker Medal for the paper "Load carrying capacity of flooded masonry arches.", Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Bridge Engineering.


  • 2011-2014: "Ultimate and permissible limit state behaviour of soil-filled masonry arch bridges" funded by EPSRC with additional support from Network Rail. Investigators: M Gilbert, CC Smith and RF Harrison. Value: £467,999 (Total value of collaborative grant: £1,030,691).
  • 2007: "Prototype limit analysis software tool for geotechnical analysis and design" funded by University of Sheffield (Proof of Concept Fund). Investigator: CC Smith. Value: £9,933.
  • 2004-2007: "Holistic limit analysis and retrofit design synthesis for masonry arch bridges" funded by EPSRC. Investigators: M Gilbert and CC Smith. Value: £63,531.
  • 2002-2005: "Soil-structure interaction in masonry arch bridges" funded by Essex County Council. Investigators: M Gilbert and CC Smith. Value: £15,000.
  • 2003-2007: "Restoration of Acid Tar Lagoons" (part of consortium project: Sustainable Urban Brownfields: Integrated Mangement SUBR:IM) EPSRC. Investigators: DN Lerner, J Hennebury and CC Smith. Value: £233,905. (total consortium funding: £1,838,284)

Selected Publications

Journal articles