The final of the 47th Cooling Prize competition was last Thursday evening hosted by the ICE Wales Cymru Ground Engineering Group and the BGA at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. Following an introduction to the history of the competition by Christine Cooling, the three finalists, Paul Sargent, Aidan Hopkins and Helen Dunne, gave presentations that addressed subjects which provide insight into new technologies and applications for geotechnical engineering that can be of practical significance. All three gave well-structured presentations that expanded on the understanding of the material included in their previously submitted papers. This was reflected in a high level of engagement with the audience who addressed all three with questions allowing them to demonstrate their breadth of knowledge around the subject matter.
Following prolonged debate the judges, led by BGA Chairman Stephan Jefferis, reached a unanimous decision to award the Cooling Prize to Helen Dunne for her presentation on "Finite element limit analysis of rectangular mudmats subject to combined loading". The judges commented that all three presentations would have been worthy winners but considered that Helen's presentation provided insight into how her research may be used in future to optimise foundation design through finite element limit analysis.
Helen will receive a cheque from Ground Engineering for £200, a cut glass decanter and BGA sponsorship to the European Young Geotechnical Engineers conference to be held in Sibu, Romania in June this year. During the judge's deliberations Matthew Skuse gave a fascinating presentation describing the foundations of the Wales Millennium Centre and the challenges overcome in identifying and addressing the complex ground conditions within the reclaimed Cardiff port area.