Griffith post-grad vies for top timber prize

Master of Philosophy student Adam Faircloth with some timber for testing.

Master of Philosophy student Adam Faircloth is set to represent Australia after his research on timber panel testing took out the top award at a national award ceremony.

Adam won the third Australian Young Researchers Conference.

Adam graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering from Griffith in 2017 and will head to London this month to compete in The Institution of Structural Engineers 22nd Young Researchers Conference, after winning the third Australian Young Researchers Conference.

Both conferences bring together young researchers who are either undertaking a PhD or Master of Philosophy in the structural engineering space and Adam’s research looked at non-destructive ways of testing the structural integrity of cross-laminated timber (CLT).

CLT is commonly used in the construction of low-to-mid-rise buildings, like Australia’s tallest engineered timber building — 25 King St in Bowen Hills.

Adam said using CLT in buildings like 25 King St had a number of advantages, such as being cost effective and requiring less labour to build with the material.

25 King St, Bowen Hills. Image: Tom Roe

He said timber also had great environmental benefits, acting as a carbon sink by trapping carbon within it for its in-service life, and it was also great for the health and well-being of those using the building.

With its rise in popularity, Adam saw a need for improved testing methods.

“Mass timber panels are a readily used construction material and are quickly becoming popular here in Australia,” Adam said.

“As the demand for these panels increase, manufacturers here will need to have a process in place to quickly and effectively evaluate these products for their stiffness, as stiffness is one of the main governing criteria for their use in a building.

“My research aims to investigate the possibilities of using vibration-based evaluation to measure the stiffness of these panels on a full size scale (3mx3m).”

Inside 25 King St Bowen Hills, which is made of CLT. Image: Tom Roe

Current industry best practice to determine the stiffness of timber panels is to use static or destructive methods, which are costly, time-consuming and wasteful.

Adam, now a timber engineer at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, said he’d always had a strong focus on the Queensland timber industry and that he was both excited and nervous to appear at the international conference.

“I was ecstatic and felt great pride in saying I was the winner of the (Australian) conference as well as having this great opportunity to represent Griffith University and Australia on an international platform,” Adam said.

His project is funded through the ARC Future Timber Hub.