Structural Engineering, Bridge Research, Programming, and more…

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I’m Colin Caprani, from Dublin, Ireland, and am a Senior Lecturer in Structural Engineering at Monash University, Melbourne Australia, previously at Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland. This site primarily represents my professional activities, and so I’ll elaborate on my background:


  • BSc(Eng) – Bachelor of Science in Structural Engineering (First Class Honours, placed first in class at Dublin Institute of Technology, Bolton St.), University of Dublin, 1999;
  • DipEng – Diploma in Structural Engineering, Dublin Institute of Technology, 1999;
  • PhD – Doctor of Philosophy, University College Dublin, 2006.

Professional Memberships

Professional Associations

  • ISWIM – International Society of Weigh-In-Motion – Member;
  • IABMAS – International Association for Bridge Maintenance and Safety, Member.

Professional Activities

Industrial Experience

  • Bridge engineer with Roughan O’Donovan, 1 year part-time;
  • Structural engineer on buildings with Carew Associates (now White Young Green, Dublin), 2 years;
  • Structural engineer on buildings with Walsh Goodfellow, 2 years;
  • Draughtsman, site engineer and student design engineer, about 1 year total.



  • Second Prize, Young Researchers’ Conference, Institution of Structural Engineers, London, 2004;
  • Winner of the Institution of Structural Engineers, Republic of Ireland Branch Student Prize, 1999;
  • Winner of the Michael Carew Prize for Best Overall Student Performance in the 1999 class of Structural Engineering, DIT;
  • Winner of the Irish Precast Concrete Association, Structural Design Computer Program Project, DIT, 1999.

Since it’s not all about work, on the personal side I love to whitewater kayak – especially the travelling that it can involve. Otherwise it’s cycling: road or MTB, both are great fun!


Comment from Joyce
Time: 10 May, 2008, 23:25

Your website is very nice

Comment from Miriam Schwab
Time: 23 May, 2008, 09:34

Hi – I came across your site via your MultiFeedSnap plugin (which seems great, by the way), but I was interested to notice the topic of your blog, and particularly the picture of the suspended bridge in your header.

I am from Jerusalem, and the city is in the middle of erecting a suspended bridge at the entrance to the city, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava. I was wondering if you know about this bridge, and what you think about it. Apparently, suspended bridges cost 70% more than regular bridges, and I was wondering if there is any benefit to building a suspended bridge. Also, a few weeks ago a crack formed at the base, which they supposedly fixed but still is not a cause for comfort.

I was also wondering what you think about the bridge’s design. It’s supposed to resemble a lyre, but I have to admit that to me it seems to be more of an eyesore than anything else.


Miriam Schwab

Comment from Colin
Time: 23 May, 2008, 16:53

Firstly, thanks for your kind comment. Regarding the bridge though, as you might imagine it is difficult to overly criticize Calatrava because of the success he has had in bringing disparate parts of the design world together. His success comes from a unique blend of sculptor, architect (and most importantly!) structural engineer. Whilst his designs are sometimes impracticable and expensive, these are just relative concepts. A city does not employ Calatrava if it does not want a statement to be made about the place and its future. In doing so the costs of such pieces becomes much more than would have otherwise been. But I’m not sure this is a bad thing: if the world was full of solely economic designs our senses would feel the poverty of these constructions. And so, occasionally (and probably not often enough), we pay more for better.

Statements such as suspended bridges are 70% more expensive are invariably false. Since every site is different, it is often not possible to compare even bridges of the same length. But for a given site there are alternatives considered at initial design stage. Usually one or two of these is most economic and a design is then made based on other factors, such as aesthetics. But in the case of a Calatrava design, there is probably a cheaper alternative. But one which neglects the extra benefit to our senses. Perhaps in the case of the Chord Bridge the alternative was 70% less, and was not a suspended span, but this is not to say that all suspended spans are 70% more expensive than all other forms of bridge. Sometimes a suspended span is the only real solution – think of the Golden Gate bridge, for example.

On a technical point, the Chord bridge is a cable-stayed bridge since its cables originate from the pylon and do not connect to a catenery cable – a feature common to all suspension bridges. Also in any daring and new construction that pushes boundaries there are bound to be some problems. Cracks are a regular feature of any concrete construction, we just usually keep them small enough so the public doesn’t notice! I have no doubt that the Chord bridge has a team of excellent structural engineers working on it, and any problems during construction would be quickly remedied and further studied to ascertain their effect on the final construction.

Lastly, on the subject of eyesores – we’d do well to remember that the Eiffel Tower was hated by Parisians when it was first built. Now it is seen as the national symbol of France. Give the Chord bridge time and it will find its place in Jerusalem and its people 🙂

Comment from iain
Time: 5 June, 2008, 10:52

Hi Colin,

I am looking at your multifeedsnap plugin and will give it a go.

I like your site design and particularly the menu system. I have been playing with a multi level css menu plug in for WP and wondered if you used something similar, or is yours hard coded…??

thanks, and keep up the good work..


Comment from Colin
Time: 16 June, 2008, 18:47

Hi Iain,
Yes it is all hard-coded with a good bit of experimentation. You can look at the css file to see how it’s done, but it’s probably not very clear!

Comment from Thabet Abu Shah
Time: 12 November, 2008, 14:16


Your web site is very fascinating especially the study materials. Very simple and easy to read.
I wonder if you can help with my query below?

I am currently preparing for IstructE exams in 2009 and I am collecting information, shortcut analyses and tables for building structures steel and concrete.

I have managed to collect a lot off materials for the analysis and design. I couldn’t find guides for the preliminary analysis and design /short cuts for portal frame buildings with cranes as well as highbay frame buildings such as aircrafts hangers. Please advise!

Your Help is appreciated

Many Thanks


Comment from Ninja101
Time: 1 February, 2009, 14:04


Those scheme design notes are excellent! I’ve scoured the net and they’re the best I’ve found. Many senior engineers are reluctant to delegate, so many young engineers don’t get the experience, and subsequently fail the IStructE exam. Considering some of the questions aren’t typical of the real world anyway- very long spans, unusual site conditions etc, makes it even harder.

Where would I get some sample solutions, without taking the preparation course? Just to use as a template for my own trial attempts.

Many thanks

Comment from Ondrej
Time: 18 February, 2009, 04:39

Dear Colin,

I came to your website through a Google search and I am amazed by the quality of your

lecture notes! I find your site very interesting, since I have recently myself

started compiling useful information related to structural engineering. I already

have a database of structural engineering software with 400+ programs and currently I

am working on creating the initial hierarchy and a structure of topics for structural

wiki, whose ultimate goal is to provide easily accessible information to students and

practising engineers. The wiki currently has 5000+ entries and it was inspired by

similar reference sites that exist for other topics, such as for MathWorld ( ) for mathematics. Both of my projects are located at

I was wondering if I could link directly to you lecture notes from individual

structural wiki pages dealing with the same topic as is the topic of the notes. If

so, it would be nice if the location (URL) of your lecture notes remains permanent

and will not change in the future, thus preventing dead links.

Please feel free to contact me using the email address provided below.

Thank you,


info (at) bridgeart [dot] net

Comment from Wayne
Time: 3 May, 2009, 07:28

Just wanted to let you know, WP transforms ampersands found in my url string, so I added:

$text = str_replace(‘&’,’&’,$text);

in your multifeedsnap plugin to accomodate the issue. Thought you might consider this for the next version.

Thanks for providing the plugin! It works like a charm!



Comment from Colin
Time: 6 May, 2009, 00:32

Cheers Wayne, I’ll stick that in next time and credit you. Nice spot!

Comment from Michael Walsh
Time: 22 May, 2009, 12:09


I came across your web site after a google search for a discussion forum for Structural Engineers.
I would like to echo most of the other comments and congratulate you on your excellent web design and content.
Can you advise me whether it is accpetable to continue to use CP3 for wind loading design or is one obliged to use the much later BS 6399 loadings for buildings : Code of practice for wind loads.
on a general note what is the general parctice for cessation of use of BS codes when they have been updated or superceded by ISEN codes

Comment from vyomesh karathia
Time: 26 July, 2010, 08:28

hi i cam accross your web through google serch. i am a final year student of civil engineering in from india,pune. i have been applied project in final year of structure engineering. I would like to get your guidance about selection of my project that would help me in future also. Will you please help me related to this query?hoping to be favoured.

Comment from khashayar
Time: 1 August, 2010, 08:16

hi sir! i have tried to be in touch with u on skype but it seems that my messages donot deliver !!
i am bhc student in iran sharif univercity of tech and i have used the mohr teoriom of u’r lectures!!:D
u’r web site is great!!

Comment from Robert Miles – Donald Insall Associates
Time: 8 September, 2010, 17:05

Hi Colin
We are interested in working with you on a project we have in Co. Wexford.
Can you call or email please – 0044 7500441700
Many thanks

Comment from khashayar
Time: 10 October, 2010, 11:03

hi sir!!
i have a question and i wish u could help me!i need to find a book about slope deflection and other methods that is suitable for solving inditerminate structures !!can u help me plz?if there is a link to download the pdf or sth like that it would be so kind of u to say it to me!my own teachers does not said really anything special for the refrence!!
thank u so much!!
ps:i have read u’r lectures too!they were really helpfull!

Comment from Dave Kay
Time: 5 November, 2010, 18:54

Your web site is a blast! No pun intended.

I have a question on your excel spreadsheet “SDOF Forced Damped Vibration – Newark”.

It seems the formulas do not support the condition where ultimate is achieved and beyond. In my practice, members subject to Blast load reach and most often pass ultimate resistance Ru. Could you please elaborate as to how the formulas would change once Ultimate resistance is achieved and beyond.

Thank you.

Comment from Doug Jenkins
Time: 29 December, 2010, 00:20

Excellent site! I was directed here from Eng-tips. You might like a look at my blog: which is also focussed on structural engineering and computing (mainly concrete and Excel respectively), plus a bit of music when the mood takes me. I’ve added this site to my blogroll.

Comment from harpreet jagdey
Time: 26 April, 2011, 20:48

Hi there, i think i found this website quite late. I am preparing for istructe exam which is on thrusday april 28. as you had appeared in 2009, i am presuming you tried bridge question in there which was a footbridge. Not sure if its appropriate to ask you about 2010 bridge question. Please if u reply to this post , we can discuss further as there is only one day between.

Comment from Lindsay B
Time: 25 September, 2011, 20:03

Dear Colin,
I am a third year engineering student. During my second year along with a third of my class I failed my Structural Analysis module. Unfortunately my lecture notes left a lot to be desired. I stumbled across your site about 4 weeks before my resit exam this summer, it was a god send! Your notes on Structural Analysis are great and they really really helped me to understand the topic. Without your notes I would have been well and truly stuck. I just wanted to say thank you very much for making all your notes available online and free of charge, they really helped me in passing my exam. I passed with 78% and would not have been able to do it without your help.
Thank you.


Comment from Admin
Time: 26 September, 2011, 10:51


Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know how you got on. Positive feedback like yours encourages people to continue to share their work. Best of luck with your future studies.


Comment from S.Sathiyaseelan
Time: 21 October, 2011, 05:46

Respected Sir,

Initially I am taking privelledge to congratulate for all your achievements so far and for sure I will take lot of inspiration form you.While reading your document on punching shear,I came to know about you through your personal website.I will see all your technical notes and revert back to you if have any technical problem in my work in the company.
Thanking You,

Comment from RAj
Time: 30 October, 2011, 08:10

Dear Colin
I thank you for sharing your knowledge over net. The explanations and solutions are simple and lucid. They are very helpful.

Comment from TIM
Time: 1 December, 2011, 20:52

Dr Colin thanks a lot for your spring of knowledge.I just have one request for you that if you can.Am a Diploma graduate in Civil Engineering in The Mombasa Polytechnic university college in East Africa Kenya.Would you be kind enough to to help me understand the whole of structural analysis and design to BS 8110-1997.If you would charge, how much can you take from. Tim

Comment from El Hadji Beye
Time: 22 March, 2012, 14:40

Hello, I am a junior at SPSU in Marietta, GA (U.S.) and I’d like to thank you for your notes on Moment distribution. I was completely lost in the course and your notes helped me have a clearer view of the many concepts involved. It is such a relief to finally understand how it all adds up together.

Thank you very much!


Comment from FAIZ
Time: 31 August, 2012, 08:31

I need to know, how you have derived the take down load for the punching shear design example. It says refer to page 43 of quantitative design notes. I have been trying to find quantitative design notes to relate to the punching shear example. Please if you may post the link, or explain how take down load may be assumed, when not given in the question. I need it desperately for my upcoming exam.


Comment from Admin
Time: 31 August, 2012, 23:40

The notes on this page: give several examples of load takedown. Good luck with the work!

Comment from Barry Rush
Time: 17 October, 2012, 12:33

Dear Sir,
I am presently wishing to recruit Civil/Structural and Quantity Surveyors for a client in Qatar. I was wondering if you may know of anyody who may be interested. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.
With best wishes,
Barry Rush
Nr Ireland
Tel: 028 777 22257 or mobile: 07813 130665

Comment from Yanti
Time: 28 October, 2012, 07:19

Dear Colin, Your site is so interesting and gives so much knowledge. You are so generous and smart person. All the best wishes for you.

Comment from Mirza Imran
Time: 15 January, 2013, 07:52

Dear, Your contribution for spreading knowledge is wonderful. I liked it. Please Continue it.
Best Regards

Comment from Lawrence Chan
Time: 19 January, 2013, 01:35


I was wondering if you would offer or sell your Mistructe Prep Course notes. I’m located in Canada and I’m looking for prep course material. I have already started the MIstrute course material direct from IStructe’s website. Feel free to privately email me.

The material on your website is fantastic.

Comment from Lawrence Chan
Time: 12 February, 2013, 23:27

I was wondering if you would be willing to sell or offer your Istructe course notes.
Please contact me at

Comment from Ahmad Mejbas Al-Remal
Time: 20 July, 2015, 23:28

Very useful website with a lot of valuable information on structural engineering. I am a practicing engineer and visiting lecturer in structural engineering at the University of Edinburgh and find Colin’s website one of the best sources of information.

Many thanks Dr. Caprani for sharing your valuable knowledge with us.

Comment from Michael
Time: 23 September, 2015, 00:04

The material that you have shared on your site is great! I am a graduate member of IStructE looking towards the CM exam and finding it hard to find advice for the structural scheme part of the exam. I noticed that your website has a link towards an CM Prep course and wondered if this course was virtual and if engineers from Canada could join your course? Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas! It is very much appreciated!

Comment from Vidrascu
Time: 30 April, 2018, 01:29

Dear Colin,

I am preparing for my IStructE exam and came up to your website. Is there a way to access the IStructE notes/course on your website that is currently password restricted?


Many thanks,

Comment from Andrew Laing
Time: 17 August, 2018, 11:29

“Non-engineers shouldn’t be the decisionmakers”: Re-consider?

Hi Colin,

Have just read your comments on the ABC website relating to the Genoa bridge collapse; very interesting and relevant. Thank you for writing it.

However, I suggest it would be worth re-considering your closing plea for the large-scale decisions to be taken by engineers. There is another view which I would support that engineers – like any community with specialist expertise – have to build and maintain a “deal” with the community at large. Within this “deal” engineers expect their advice to be sought and respected, but also acknowledge that there is a broader perspective which other parts of the community can bring, and which will help to shape the final decision. So engineers are vital members of the decision team but not the unique decision makers. And their challenge is to frame their advice in language which the representatives of the broader community can understand. I guess this will be vital in Genoa – where one perspective is that bridge safety has been “left too long to the engineers to worry about”

I come from the oil industry (and one of my relatives was closely involved with the West Gate Bridge). As an example of a situation where the “broader context” was important you might want to look at the decision to remove lead from petrol. The Oil Industry expertise was initially “absolutely clear” that the removal of lead would be very expensive and was unnecessary. But over time the broader context ran against that view – in my opinion absolutely rightly – and was captured over an office lunch by the comment that “of course our wives and children all think we are bastards!”

Maybe you should get your students to think a bit more about this issue.

Good luck,


Comment from Admin
Time: 28 August, 2018, 22:02

Thanks for the thoughtful reply to the article and the controversial claim! The problem today is that the pendulum has swung too far away from the coalface in many technical fields of endeavour. There’s a presumption that the technical stuff will take care of itself while we get on with worrying about more important things like budgets. It takes a big push (i.e. a bold claim) to try arrest the momentum and even getting swinging back to some midway point. Right now, as you say, “bridge safety has been left too long to the engineers to worry about” without adequate resourcing from those that do not deeply understand the implications of decisions of 50% or even 20% funding of what is required to keep the public safe. This is where there has to be transparency and accountability in both engineering recommendations and the final decisions made. I think if we have this then we will see more engineers involved in decision-making and better decisions being made, with due respect to all of the dimensions required, not just one or two.

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