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The University of Southampton

Dr Michael Patrick Byfield PhD BEng CEng MIStructE MICE


Dr Michael Patrick Byfield's photo

Dr Michael Patrick Byfield is part-time Lecturer within Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton.

My research is centred on blast effects on structures, progressive collapse of buildings, and steel and reinforced concrete structures

My research is centred on blast effects on structures, progressive collapse of buildings, and steel and reinforced concrete structures.

My research background is in the experimental testing and analysis of steel and reinforced concrete structures. I took up my first lectureship at Cranfield University in 1997, before moving to Southampton University in 2003. In 2004 I won the Institution of Civil Engineers Parkman Medal and was shortly afterwards elected to the EPSRC College. I am also a director of Romsey Structural Engineering Ltd which is a structural engineering consultancy.

Previous research

Most steel framed buildings take advantage of the composite action between the steel beams and slabs. My research helped develop composite beam to column connections for use in design, see the experimental testing conducted in Fig. 1.

Steel-concrete composite frame testing

Steel sheet piles suffer from loss of strength due to inter-pile movements. My research defined loss factors which are used by designers during design.

Most designers of steel framed buildings utilise the tying force method to comply with the disproportionate collapse building regulations. My research was the first to show that the tying force method does not work when used with industry standard beam to column connections, see Fig. 2.

Failure of connections under tension and rotation

The probability of structural failure is dependent on the design complexity. My research helped to understand the reliability issues related to design using Eurocode 3.

Ongoing research

My research was the first to use the component-method for modelling buildings subjected to extreme loading from column loss or blast. This work is ongoing and is aimed at developing beam-to-column connections with improved ductility, see attached video clip of experimental tests.

Control of cracking in reinforced concrete structures is a major problem facing practicing engineers. My research is helping to provide improved crack control for reinforced concrete structures, see recent tests shown in Fig. 3.

Measurement of r.c. crack initiation and propagation

Some of my research is geared towards understanding the vulnerability of buildings to collapse due to vehicle borne improvised explosive devices. I am developing methods for protecting military expeditionary forces from building collapse following detonation of vehicle borne improvised explosive devices, see Fig. 4.

After effects of the detonation of a vehicle borne IED


I aim to develop a fundamental understanding of structural design principles during my lectures, rather than teaching the application of codes of practice.

The Murrah Building collapse: A reassessment of the transfer girder

Before and after the bombing
Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building

The bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City killed 167 people. The scale of the disaster was blamed on the use of a transfer girder and the detailing of the steel reinforcement in the concrete beams. My research has proven this conclusion to be wrong by demonstrating that lack of redundancy was to blame. The Murrah Building used open-plan architecture with a fully glazed façade. The lack of a strong internal partition walls and façade left it unable to sustain column damage without failure. My work was published in the same journal as the findings of the Federal Emergency Management Agency investigative team.

Military Advice on Progressive/Disproportionate Collapse, DSTL (2010-11)

An assessment tool has been developed to identify multi-storey buildings that offer the highest level of resistance to attack by Vehicle Borne IEDs (car bombs). This tool consolidates the influence of primary blast damage, structural continuity, ductility, and the availability of emergency load paths to provide a simple assessment of strength. The criteria are based upon fundamental principles in progressive collapse resistance. The level to which the building corresponds to each criterion provides an insight as to the level of resilience offered by the structure.

Resilience of framed structures, DSTL (2013-16)

Steelwork connections fractured using high-strain rate loading
Fractured steelwork connections

This on-going research demonstrates that existing approaches to progressive collapse and blast modelling of steel frames are unsafe. The approach under development overcomes many of the existing problems and allows for the design of safer buildings. The advantages are recognised by DSTL, who are funding Southampton University to develop safer structures (using the new approach) for the British Army to deploy on overseas operations. This will help to reduce casualties from car bombs and mortars and will lead to lighter-weight structures.

Propping guidance, DSTL (2014)

Advice on the strengthening of buildings for military expeditionary structures.

Research project(s)

Performance of buildings subjected to blast

  • Southern Branch committee member of the Institution of Structural Engineers
  • Exams Officer UG and PG Civil engineering degrees
  • Library Representative
Code Title Role


Some recent student projects I have supervised are shown below.


Wind tunnel testing of the 1/6th model bridge deck to determine the drag and lift coefficients
4th year MEng Group Design Project
Wind tunnel testing of 1000m tower for Doha, Qatar
4th Year MEng Group Design Project
Dr Michael Patrick Byfield
Engineering, University of Southampton, Southampton Boldrewood Innovation Campus, Burgess Road, Southampton, SO16 7QF

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