The Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, (previously Department of Building and Civil Engineering) has a remit which includes building structures, structural materials, structural analysis and design, geo-technical engineering, seismic engineering, and marine and other civil engineering structures. The modern profession of the Civil Engineer, and, even more, of the Structural Engineer, has a relatively young pedigree, emerging formally in the United Kingdom and France in the late 18th century, and flourishing in the 19th century. However, the objectives of civil engineering, typically defined as“directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man” (Charter of the Institution of Civil Engineers, UK, 1828), find an echo both in the famous Renaissance definition of the Architect, by Leon Battista Alberti - Him I Call An Architect, Who, By A Sure And Wonderful Art And Method, Is Able, Both With Thought And Invention To Devise, And With Execution To Complete, All Those Works Which, By Means Of The Movement Of Great Weights And Amassment Of Bodies Can, With The Greatest Beauty, Be Adapted To The Uses Of Mankind." – and also in the Vitruvian model of training for Architects. In other words, there is a strong logic for the engineer-architect link. In Malta, as in the tradition of a number of central European, Italian, and Latin American countries, the figures of the architect and the civil engineer have a much closer relationship than is the case in the anglo-saxon tradition, at least since the 19th century. In these countries, the concept of the “Engineer-Poet” has, perhaps, never faded. Attitudes to engineering have also changed over the last decades, with the emergence of engineer-architects like Nervi, Calatrava, Schlaich, Mimram, and Rice. In the United Kingdom, it is suggested that attitudes regarding the Engineer started to change with Ove Arup, in the 1930-1950, who was both a fine engineer, as well as familiar with the progressive art circles in which modern architecture was born. The late Prof. Happold, who championed a closer working relationship between architects and engineers in the United Kingdom, had once commented that “These days only people with an Arts training are said to be creative. But if truth be told, it is technology that is creative, because it gives us these new opportunities. Historic ideas of art and culture can entrap. It is technology that frees the scene”.
These ideas underpin the philosophy of the Department. At the same time as the Department strives to broaden, and deepen, the study of the disciplines of civil and structural engineering, underpinned, as always, by sound studies in mathematics and structural mechanics, students are not allowed to forget that, irrespective of the engineering concepts and technology they need to apply, they have to ensure that what is built, properly and safely, it is hoped, also satisfies relevant aesthetical criteria. The Department promotes the creative manipulation of materials and forms, using mathematical and scientific principles.
The Departmental staff
research interests range across masonry materials and structures, reinforced and prestressed concrete structures, concrete technology, the utilization of building waste in the production of masonry units, or as replacement materials in concrete, composite structures, glass structures, tensegrity structures, structural cladding systems, structural repair interventions, rock material characterisation.