Dr Danny Smyl


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

Telephone: +44 (0) 114 222 5705
Fax: +44 (0) 114 222 5700

Email: d.smyl@sheffield.ac.uk
Room: F111d




‘My research aims to improve the techniques used to diagnose the health of our ageing infrastructure.

Dr Danny Smyl


Danny is originally from a small town in rural Kansas. He completed his Bachelors and Masters degrees in the Department of Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering at the University of Kansas. He then served as a Combat Engineer officer in the US Marines, completing a tour of Afghanistan. After finishing active duty service, Danny completed a PhD in the Department of Civil, Construction & Environmental Engineering at North Carolina State University. During this time, he received a Fulbright grant to study inverse problems in the Department of Applied Physics at the University of Eastern Finland. After completing his PhD, Danny was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Aalto University, Espoo, Finland. He joined us in 2019.

Danny’s overarching research interests lie in inverse problems, structural health monitoring, material characterisation, structural engineering, and cement-based materials.

In Danny’s approach to structural health monitoring, he incorporates tomographic techniques to detect, diagnose, visualise and quantify damage or flaws in a structure. These techniques incorporate photographic, electrical or displacement data applied to a structure or element of a structure, and are then used to visualise the damage. Detecting damage in structures is important as it can lead to weaknesses or failure. It can be caused by many things: earthquakes, subsidence, corrosion, impact or blast loading, for instance. If a structure is somehow weakened by any of these, it’s important that we identify the damage that can’t be seen so it can be remedied. Danny uses inverse problem solving techniques to work towards diagnosis. He starts by collecting data and then works through numerical modelling, in order to generate an image of the damage. This inverse approach, starting with data and working towards causalities, is a unique approach to solving engineering problems, but is particularly useful when the parameters are uncertain.

The techniques currently being used to diagnose the health of our infrastructure are often rudimentary and done on a small scale. Danny aims to improve on these techniques and translate them to large existing infrastructure using our unique facilities at ICAIR.

Danny’s interdisciplinary work will also feed into many other areas of research in the Department, such as geotechnics, optimisation, blast, concrete materials, and earthquake engineering. For example, he will work with our Blast & Impact research group to quantify near-field blast events and the damage they cause. He will also work with our Geotechnical Engineering research group to quantify how water moves through soil and characterise subsurface structural features. Danny’s methods of diagnosing abnormalities can also be applied to medical imaging, where he develops imaging regimes for biomedical processes, which can, for instance, help with cancer detection in human tissue.

Selected Publications

Journal articles

Conference proceedings papers