Professor J Michael Rotter

Emeritus Professor of Civil Engineering

Engineering Discipline: 

  • Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research Institute: 

  • Infrastructure and Environment

Research Theme: 

  • Granular Mechanics and Industrial Infrastructure
Prof J Michael Rotter
Prof J Michael Rotter

Academic Qualifications: 

  • BA Clare College, Cambridge University (1st Class Hons)
  • MA Clare College, Cambridge University
  • PhD Civil Engineering, University of Sydney

Professional Qualifications and Memberships: 

  • Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
  • Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers
  • Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia
  • Convenor: CEN 250 SC3 PT4 for Eurocode 3 Part 1.6 Strength and stability of shell structures
  • Chairman: ECCS TWG 8.4 European committee on buckling of shells
  • Member: ECSS European Cooperation for Space Standardisation Committee E30 Buckling of Structures. (Sole UK member)
  • Member: European Federation of Chemical Engineers Working Party on the Mechanics of Particulate Solids (WPMPS)
  • Member: American Concrete Institute Committee 313 Concrete Bins and Silos. (Sole UK member)
  • Convenor: CEN 250 SC3 PT4 for Eurocode 3 Part 4.2 Steel tanks
  • Member: American Society of Mechanical Engineers Committee on the Design of Storage Containers for Bulk Solids (SBS)
  • Convenor: CEN 250 SC3 PT4 for Eurocode 3 Part 4.3 Steel pipelines
  • Convenor: CEN 250 SC3 PT4 for Eurocode 3 Part 4.1 Steel silos
  • Drafting editor: CEN 250 SC1 PT4 for Eurocode 1 Part 4: Actions (loads) in tanks and silos
  • Associate Member: American Concrete Institute Committee 334 Concrete Shell Design and Construction (sole UK member)

Research Interests: 

Behaviour and design of shell structures

  • Buckling and plastic collapse failure modes in shell structures, their sensitivity to imperfections, and the failure criteria for shells under complex and unsymmetrical loading conditions

Design of silo structures

  • The structural and functional design of silo structures, including the flow of granular solids within them, the pressures exerted by solids on silo walls, the response of silo structures to complex pressure regimes, and the failure modes caused in silo structures

Behaviour and characterisation of granular and particulate solids

  • The behaviour of particulate solids in large masses (bulk solids handling). In particular, the behaviour in silos and other solids handling facilities, the testing of solids to determine their properties, and the practical application of tests in industry

Coal handling

  • The testing and characterisation of coal for materials handling purposes. The effect of stress and moisture content on handling performance. Blending strategies for mixing different coals to achieve handlability and other criteria.

The effects of extreme fires on large building structures

  • Understanding the behaviour of large building structures under extreme fires. The computational modelling of the effects of extreme fires. Practical steps in the design of buildings against fire.

Flow of particulate solids in silos

  • The measurement and prediction of the flow of particulate and granular solids in silos. Measurement systems include visual observations and the use of harmonic radar. Predictions systems include finite element and discrete element methods.


  • Analysis and design of structures
  • Behaviour of granular bulk solids
  • Special expertise relating to silos, tanks and storage structures
  • Loading on bulk solids storage structures, flow in bulk solids, analysis of shell structures, buckling and collapse in shells
  • Computational, theoretical and experimental investigations
  • Finite element analysis
  • Experiments on solids flow and structural response at model scale and full scale
  • Interpretation techniques for experiments which cannot make direct observations
  • Code writing: CEN, ACI, ASME, AS, ECCS and ECSS code committees
  • Forensic consultancy to investigate failures
  • Shell structures

Further Information: 

  • Keynote Address: Colloque National de l'Association Universitaire de Mecanique de France INSA Renne 2002
  • Keynote Address: European Mechanics Colloquium 242, Shell stability, Aachen 2002
  • Keynote Address: Institution of Chemical Engineers, Mechanics of Granular Solids Meeting, Leeds 2002
  • Keynote Address: Statistics and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute, Fluctuations and Continuum Equations in Granular Flow Meeting, Durham, North Carolina 2004
  • Visiting Professor Appointments 1997, 2003 and 2005: Institut fur Stahlbau, Technische Universitat, Graz
  • External Examiner of Overseas Theses for Postgraduate Degrees/DSc's: Technische Universitat Graz Austria; Universitat Dortmund Germany
  • External Examiner of Overseas Theses for Postgraduate Degrees/DSc's: Witwatersrand University, South Africa: Monash University Australia
  • Plenary Lectures: International Conferences on Steel Structures: Hong Kong 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005
  • Visiting Professor 2000: Institut fur Stahlbau, Technische Universitat, Wien
  • Keynote Address: US Concrete Institute, Design of Silos for Eccentric Discharge Meeting, Detroit 2002
  • Visiting Professor (Premiere Classe) 1996, 2000: INSA, Lyon
  • Expert Witness: Damage to a 95m concrete raw meal cement silo in the Philippines in the case Cemex and Pallas & Assoc vs Dywidag Philippines Corp and FF Cruz, March 2001
  • External Examiner of Theses for Postgraduate Degrees/DSc's: Institut National des Sciences Appliquees, France; L'Ecole Normale Superieure de Cachan France