BRITAIN's structural engineering, once the most advanced in the world, is languishing because of lack of research funds, a leading academic has claimed.
Nutan Subedi, senior lecturer in Dundee University's department of civil engineering, giving his inaugural address as chairman of the Institution of Structural Engineers' Scottish branch, said following the first world war, the government's vision and investment in research had led to the international pre-eminence of British structural engineering.
"But in the past ten or 15 years, the funding has been drastically cut back and research in this field is reduced to almost a token gesture," he said.
Dr Subedi highlighted revolutionary innovations such as ultra high-rise buildings and the creation of new land in the ocean for airports.
"There is also a new construction site opening up, space, which we have not even begun to consider as yet," he said.
But research, the most creative and forward looking part of British structural engineering practice, was suffering cutbacks and closures.
"Research cannot be turned on and off whenever required in the interests of controlling public expenditure," he said.
"And we know the consequences of token activity in research will show up in ten or 15 years' time when it will be too late. British structural engineering practice will lag far behind many other countries'."
Structural engineering was a key subject for all civil engineering students, Dr Subedi said, and without adequate research resources, universities would be unable to produce the right calibre of graduates for industry.
"Both the government and industry are lacking in vision. Without investment into research and development, the future of structural engineering is bleak."