I am a civil engineer who has specialised in geotechnics - engineering of the ground, or at the seabed.
My research work has been primarily focussed on the offshore energy industries, but I’ve enjoyed spin-offs ranging from the design of novel construction machinery to remote monitoring technologies for urban construction. Some of my work has led to new design codes endorsed by industry, while in other areas the outcome has been new gadgets to probe the properties of the seabed.
My teaching experience spans from undergraduate lecturing to industry training courses. I have taught many aspects of civil engineering but my specialisms are soil mechanics, geotechnical engineering and offshore foundations. I also enjoy nurturing design and innovation ideas through our student projects.
I have served on several technical committees and code-writing panels, and have been elected a Fellow of various learned societies including the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Current PhD Students
External roles and responsibilities
David White is a Professor of Infrastructure Geotechnics at the University of Southampton within Engineering and Physical Sciences.
"Smart geotechnics is what underpins the infrastructure that provides us with energy and transport, both onshore and offshore - from cables and pipelines beneath the ocean to high speed rail across the land."
I am a geotechnical engineer working on infrastructure, ranging from offshore energy facilities to onshore civil engineering projects.
My work has ranged from fundamental geotechnical studies into the mechanical response of soils to leadership of cross-disciplinary initiatives spanning the engineering of offshore facilities. The work has been primarily focussed on the offshore energy industries, but I’ve enjoyed spin-offs ranging from the design of novel construction machinery to remote monitoring technologies for urban construction.
The end goal is to devise reliable design methods for efficient and predictable infrastructure, and roll out new technologies to better characterise and control the behaviour of geomaterials. Some of my work has led to new design codes endorsed by industry verifiers and standards committees, while in other areas the outcome has been new gadgets to probe the properties of the seabed.
I work closely with other disciplines, where a ‘joined-up’ approach, or a fresh perspective allows progress to be made. For example, collaboration across geotechnics, structures, fluids and metocean has been used to develop more reliable forecasts of offshore facility behaviour by properly capturing coupled behaviour. Also, work with novel sensing and control techniques allows us to detect the mechanical properties of seabed sediments in new ways.
Particular use has been made of two novel research techniques: (i) image analysis for deformation measurement and (ii) geotechnical centrifuge modelling. Our PIV analysis software developed for geotechnics in collaboration with Dr Sam Stanier (UWA, Australia) and Dr Andy Take (Queens Univ., Canada) is widely used globally. Here at Southampton we have a new geotechnical centrifuge arriving as part of the UK:CRIC National Infrastructure Laboratory (NIL).
Before joining Southampton I held the Shell Chair in Offshore Engineering at the University of Western Australia and was Director of the ARC Research Hub for Offshore Floating Facilities. I did my undergraduate and PhD studies at the University of Cambridge and was a Research Fellow at St John’s College and a University Lecturer in Cambridge before departing for Australia in 2006.
I’m a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Australasian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the Institution of Engineers Australia and the Royal Institute of Naval Architects.
I’ve authored >250 publications, serve on various code-writing committees to translate research into practice, and partner with industry on consulting projects to bring research and practice closer together.
- Telford Gold Medal (2021)
- Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (2018)
- Fellow of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (2017)
- Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (2015)
- Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (2015)
- Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia (2013)
- ARC Future Fellowship (2009)
- Christensen Visiting Fellowship - St Catherine's College, Oxford (2011)
- Research Fellowship (Title A) (2001)
- RM Quigley Honourable Mention (2021)