Computational Mechanics and Design Group

Department of Civil & Structural Engineering

Prof. Matthew Gilbert


+44 (0) 114 222 5418

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


Matthew Gilbert graduated with a first class honours degree in Civil and Structural Engineering from the University of Sheffield in 1989. Following a brief period spent with civil engineering contractor Henry Boot he returned to academia, studying the behaviour of masonry arch bridges (awarded PhD by the University of Manchester, 1993). He then joined the University of Sheffield where he is currently a Professor.

From 2004-2009 he held an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship, focusing on the development of novel computational limit analysis and design optimization techniques for application to a wide range of problems. He also has a continuing interest in the static and dynamic performance of masonry structures, particularly masonry arch bridges. He co-founded the University spin-out company LimitState Ltd, and is currently its Managing Director. The company specialises in the development of novel ultimate limit state analysis and design software applications which make use of novel methods developed in the University (e.g. the Discontinuity Layout Optimization limit analysis procedure is incorporated in the LimitState:GEO geotechnical software application). He is a chartered civil engineer and organisations sponsoring his research have included EPSRC, Network Rail, Buro Happold and the International Union of Railways (UIC).

Recent activities and achievements

  • Holder of EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship (2004-2009), allowing new methods to be developed in the field of computational limit analysis and design synthesis.

  • Internationally recognized researcher on masonry arch bridges (advisor to UK Bridge Owners Forum; member of UIC and CIRIA advisory committees; invited plenary conference speaker; originator of RING analysis software used in >40 countries).

  • Recipient of ICE Baker Medal (2007) and IStructE Husband Award (1999) for published journal papers.

  • Member of the College of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

  • Member of the editorial advisory panel of the  ICE Proceedings Journal: 'Engineering and Computational Mechanics'.

  • Referee for over 20 journals / learned society proceedings.


PhD, University of Manchester, 1993
BEng, University of Sheffield, 1989


Research project(s)

Yield-line analysis of slabs using discontinuity layout optimization

Yield-line pattern
One of the oldest and most fundamental problems in the field of engineering mechanics involves calculation of the amount of load that can be carried by a structure, and in identifying the associated failure mechanism (layout of failure planes, or ‘discontinuities’). Discontinuity layout optimization (DLO) is an engineering analysis procedure...

Ultimate and permissible limit state behaviour of soil-filled masonry arch bridges

Masonry arch bridges form a vital part of the UK railway and highway infrastructures. These bridges typically contain soil backfill, which contributes significantly to their overall load-carrying capacity. This project aims to improve understanding of soil-arch interaction in masonry arch bridges under both static and cyclic loading regimes. This joint...


(2017). Large-scale physical modelling of soil-filled masonry arch bridges. International Journal of Physical Modelling in Geotechnics, pp. 1-14. (Full Text).
(2016). Application of layout optimization to the design of additively manufactured metallic components. Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization, 54 (5), pp. 1297-1313. (Full Text).
(2016). Special issue dedicated to Founding Editor George Rozvany. Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization, 54 (5), pp. 1107-1111.
(2016). Use of a physics engine to model soil filled masonry arch bridges. In Proc. 8th International Arch Bridges Conference.
(2016). Behaviour of backfilled masonry arch bridges subjected to cyclic loading. In Proc. 8th International Arch Bridges Conference.
(2016). Proposed permissible limit state assessment criteria for masonry arch bridges. In Proc. 8th International Arch Bridges Conference.
(2015). Modelling granular soil behaviour using a physics engine. Géotechnique Letters, 5 (4), pp. 243-249. (Full Text).
(2015). The yield-line method for concrete slabs: Automated at last. Structural Engineer, 93 (10), pp. 44-48.