Neil Hoult

Professor and Associate Head

Office: Ellis-251 C

Queen's University
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6
Tel: (613) 533-3436
Fax: (613) 533-2128

Professor Hoult graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in 1999 from the University of Toronto. He did his master's research on the effect of confinement on reinforced concrete columns and graduated with a Master's of Applied Science in 2001 also from the University of Toronto.

He then spent a year working as a structural designer for Halsall Associates where he worked on a number of projects involving steel, concrete and masonry design.

He then travelled across the pond to conduct doctoral research under the supervision of Dr. Janet Lees at the University of Cambridge. He matriculated (it's a word, look it up) at Peterhouse in 2002. His research investigated the use of a carbon fibre reinforced strap system for enhancing the shear capacity of reinforced concrete beams (see Dr. Hoult's Publications for further details). He received his PhD in May 2006.

Dr. Hoult went back to work for Halsall Associates where he spent another year as a structural designer. He then crossed the pond for a second time and spent three happy years as a Research Associate under the supervision of Prof. Campbell Middleton. During this time he developed his interest in structural health monitoring using wireless sensor networks and fibre optic sensors.

Dr. Hoult came to Queen's in September 2009 where he has continued his research into structural monitoring among other things (see his research page). He is also the faculty advisor to the Conrete Toboggan Team and the Bridge Building Team as well as a reviewer for a number of international journals among other things.


2006 Ph.D., Engineering, 2006
University of Cambridge, UK
2001 MASc, Structural Engineering, 2001
University of Toronto, Canada
1999 BASc, Civil Engineering, 1999
University of Toronto, Canada


Professor Hoult will be teaching CIVL 231(Solid Mechanics II) and CIVL 431 (Infrastructure Rehabilitation) in the Winter term. CIVL 231 builds upon fundamental courses in mechanics and deals with concepts such as Mohr's circle and virtual work. CIVL 431 investigates the reasons for rehabilitation including increased demand, deterioration and extreme events as well as potential techniques for rehabilitation such as retrofitting and monitoring.

Professor Hoult teaches two graduate courses in alternating years: CIVL 831 (Assessment and Monitoring of Infrastructure) and CIVL 835 (Assessment and Monitoring of Infrastructure).

2016 Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Invitation Fellowship
2016 August-Wilhelm Scheer Visiting Professor, TUM Munich
2016 Honourable Mention, Thomas C. Keefer Medal, Canadian Society for Civil Engineering
2015 Overseas Visiting Scholarship – St John’s College Cambridge
2014 Teaching Award, Department of Civil Engineering, Queen’s University
2014 Early Researcher Award (Ontario)
2011 Golden Apple Award, Engineering Society, Queen’s University
2011 Teaching Award, Department of Civil Engineering, Queen’s University
2010 Telford Gold Medal, Institution of Civil Engineers

You can find Dr. Hoult's publications at his Google Scholar Page!

Professor Hoult's research interests include testing and modeling of reinforced concrete, deteriorated infrastructure performance, buried infrastructure, and structural monitoring. One of the challenges faced by society as a whole is how to use resources more efficiently and effectively. Reducing CO2 production is an important aspect of this challenge and as structural engineers our goal should be to optimize the use of these precious resources including reducing CO2 production. Dr. Hoult's research investigates the behaviour of complex structural systems so that new structures can be designed more efficiently and existing structures can be assessed more accurately.

Testing and Modeling of Reinforced Concrete

Research in this area includes the behaviour of shear critical structures, buried reinforced concrete pipes and the use of recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) for structural applications. By combining new sensor technoligies such as distributed fibre optic strain sensors and digital image correlation with full-scale experiments, research students working in this area are helping to develop a better understanding of how new and existing reinforced concrete infrastructure behave. 

Deteriorated Infrastructure Performance

Research in this area includes the behaviour of corroded reinforced concrete structures, corroded steel pipes, corroded steel members, and cast iron pipes. One of the most significant questions facing engineers today is "how much deterioration is too much deterioration?" This is not an easy question to answer as most structures are complex and highly redundant systems (there are a number of ways for a load applied to a structure to get to the ground).  Research students working is this area develop techniques for creating controlled yet realistic deterioration and testing these deteriorated structures to failure to determine what is too much deterioration.

Buried Infrastructure

Dr. Hoult works closely with colleague Dr. Ian Moore in this area to better understand the performance of both new and deteriorated buried infrastructure assets such as steel culverts and reinforced concrete pipes. Large-scale experiments are conducted using the unique Buried Infrastructure Lab, which enables the testing of pipes under shallow burial conditions while being subjected to additional surface loading. Here again, the use of cutting edge sensor technologies allows an understanding of pipe behaviour that is only possible due to the facilities available at Queen's.

Structural Monitoring

Dr. Hoult's research group takes advantage of cutting edge structural monitoring technologies in almost every research project. However, some projects focus on monitoring to help assist in the assessment of new and existing infrastructure assets. With recent advances in wireless sensor networks (WSNs), fibre optic sensing, and digital image correlation (where Hoult collaborates with colloeague Dr. Andy Take), monitoring technologies offer the opportunity to enable pervasive monitoring. These systems could give engineers the data required to both keep existing structures in service longer and to optimize the design of new structures. Dr. Hoult's research in this area investigates the use of WSNs for long-term monitoring of existing structures as well as the development of new sensors and analysis techniques. The use of fibre optic sensors to determine distributed strain profiles and overall structural performance is another area of ongoing interest.

Ongoing and Potential Projects

Please feel free to contact Dr. Hoult about potential projects in each research area.

Current Graduate Students

Sam Sherlock

Hometown: Squamish, BC
Education: B.A.Sc. Civil Engineering, University of Waterloo (2020)
Co-supervisor: Dr. Andy Take (Queen’s University)

M.A.Sc. research: Sam’s research will investigate the stress distribution of helical piles both during installation and during loading. The application of helical piles to support railway embankments over weak subgrades will also be investigated.

Ranlin Qiu

Hometown: People’s Republic of China
Education: B.A.Sc. Civil Engineering, Queens’ University

M.A.Sc. Research: Structure analysis of trenchless liner rehabilitation method.

Jacob Yager

Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Education: B.Sc. (Eng) Civil Engineering, Queen's University (2020)

M.A.Sc. Research: Jacob is investigating the behaviour of functionally graded reinforced concrete beams to lower cement content in and carbon emissions from reinforced concrete. He employs dynamic distributed fibre optic strain sensing technology and Digital Image Correlation to understand the global behaviour of these beams as well as the local behaviour of concrete interfaces. His research explores the effects of various layering techniques to determine the viability of functionally graded concrete for strength, serviceability, and environmental considerations.

Fuzheng Sun

Hometown: Suzhou, China
Education: B.Eng. Civil Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology (2019)

M.A.Sc. research: Fuzheng is investigating thermal buckling behaviour of continuous welded railway tracks with the help of distributed fiber optic sensors and artificial intelligence techniques. The objective of this research is to create a digital twin version of existing railway systems, which can identify the in-service structural response of railway systems under various loading scenarios and provide owners with operational strategies to minimize the risk of buckling.

Jack Gillham

Hometown: Halifax, NS
Education: B.Sc. (Eng) Civil Engineering, Queen’s University (2019)

M.A.Sc. research: Jack's research aims to better understand the behaviour of steel bridges through the use of distributed fiber optic sensors (FOS). In particular, Jack is interested in using FOS for real-time detection of reaction forces at intermediate bridge supports. This involves monitoring a three-span composite steel bridge throughout construction as well as conducting scale model laboratory tests.

Jack Poldon

Hometown: Toronto, ON
Education: B.A.Sc. Civil Engineering, Queen's University (2017)

Ph.D. Research: Jack is studying the response of reinforced concrete deep beams with advanced distributed sensor technologies.   His experimental campaign involves testing large reinforced concrete beams in the structures laboratory then comparing the results against models and design code predictions.

Yuchen Liu

Hometown: Shenyang, China
Education: M.A.Sc., Engineering Mechanics, Tongji University (2016)
Co-supervisor: Dr. Ian D. Moore (Queen's University)

Ph.D. Research: Yuchen is monitoring corrugated steel culverts in the field using fibre optic strain sensors. He is also conducting finite element analysis to study soil-culvert interaction behaviour by modeling the laboratory and field experiments. The objectives of the research are to investigate the structural behaviour of the corrugated steel culverts, assess the reserve capacity of the in-service culverts, and improve the current design methods.

Some Previous Graduate Students

Jake Tetreault

Hometown: Kingston, ON
Education: B.Sc. (Eng) Civil Engineering, Queen's University (2014)
Co-supervisor: Dr. Ian D. Moore (Queen's University)

M.A.Sc. Research: Jake is undertaking full-scale laboratory experiments to understand the performance of rehabilitated metal culverts. Experiments include: the rehabilitation of two circular corrugated metal culverts using grouted sliplining methods, and the rehabilitation of a horizontal ellipse corrugated metal culvert using a paved invert method.

Dong (Joe) Wang

Hometown: Yangzhou, China
Education: B.Eng. Civil Engineering, South China University of Technology (2015)
Co-supervisor: Dr. Ian D. Moore (Queen's University)

M.A.Sc. research: Joe’s research is focused on non-destructive testing (NDT) for buried pipes. He uses total station and LiDAR systems to monitor pavements to infer the effect of frost-induced differential ground movement on small diameter cast iron water pipes. He will also be investigating methods to detect erosion voids next to culverts.

Titilope Adebola

Hometown: Kogi, Nigeria
Education: M.Sc. Materials Science and Engineering, African University of Science and Technology, Nigeria (2013); B.Sc. Petroleum Chemistry, American University of Nigeria (2011)
Co-supervisor: Dr. Ian D. Moore (Queen's University)

Ph.D. research: Titi is investigating the long-term properties of a Cast-In-Place polymer composite liner used in water pipe rehabilitation. Experiment that she carries out will make it possible to relate the long-term properties to the key limit states experienced by the liner in-service and thereby develop QA/QC procedures.

Jiachen (Joanna) Zhang

Hometown: Hangzhou, China
Education: B.Sc.(Eng) Civil Engineering, Queen's University (2015)

M.A.Sc. research: Joanna’s research aims to use distributed fiber optic strain sensors for structural health monitoring of the shear behaviour of reinforced concrete structures.

Kyle Van Der Kooi

Hometown: St. Catharines, Ontario
Education: B.Sc. (Eng) Civil Engineering, Queen's University (2015)

Research: Kyle is investigating the behaviour of steel truss railway bridges and the feasibility of monitoring these structures through the use of distributed fiber optic sensors.

Andre Brault

Hometown: Toronto, ON
Education: B.Sc. (Eng) Civil Engineering, Queen's University (2014)

Ph.D. Research: Andre's research focuses on the use of distributed fibre optic sensors for the purposes of structural optimization and structural health monitoring. His research involves the testing of new reinforced concrete structures in the field, the testing of several different reinforced concrete specimens in the laboratory, and the modeling of complex reinforced concrete building behaviour.

Eric Pannese

Hometown: Milford, New Hampshire, U.S.A.
Education: B.Sc. (Eng) Civil Engineering, Queen’s University (2016)
Co-supervisor: Dr. Andy Take (Queen's University)

Research description: Eric is using dynamic distributed fibre optic strain sensing technology to monitor vertical railway track displacements in the field. The goal of this research is to expand upon our current knowledge of railway track behaviour when subjected to train loading in order to promote track maintenance strategies that minimize the risk of derailments.

Van Thien Mai

Hometown: Hochiminh City, Vietnam
Education: B.Eng. Civil Engineering, Ryerson University (2010), M.A.Sc Civil Engineering, Queen's University (2013)
Co-supervisor: Dr. Ian D. Moore (Queen's University)

Research description: Van performs small scale experiments, large scale experiments, and numerical analysis to study the effect of erosion voids on the stability of deteriorated metal culvert. The objectives of his research are (i) to understand how erosion voids develop beside deteriorated metal culverts, (ii) to study the impact of unrepaired and repaired erosion voids on the stability of deteriorated metal culverts using large scale experiments, and (iii) to develop guidelines for culvert assessments.

Lisa Wheeler

Hometown: Leduc, AB
Education: BSc Civil Engineering from the University of Alberta (2009)
Co-supervisor: Dr. Andy Take (Queen's University)

Research description: Lisa is measuring rail, sleeper, and ballast displacements using Digital Image Correlation in order to calculate track modulus before and after railway subgrade remediation as well as using distributed dynamic fiber optic sensing to measure rail strains and study the effect of gaps on the distribution of loading from the rail to the sleepers.

Jane M. Peter

Hometown: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Education: B. Eng (Hons.) Civil Engineering, Heriot-Watt University (2013)
Co-supervisor: Dr. Ian D. Moore, Queen’s University

Ph.D. research: Jane specializes in the response culverts in the presence of erosion voids to surface live loads using full-scale experiments. The objectives of her research include (i) replicating the effects of an erosion void adjacent to flexible and rigid pipes and exploring the responses under the action of unfactored and fully-factored vehicle loads, (ii) discerning the extent to which grouting (repairing) the erosion void restores the behaviour of the deteriorated system to the pre-void condition, (iii) testing the repaired culvert up to its ultimate limit state and establishing the failure mechanism, and (iv) investigate changes in the bending moment distribution due to voids of different sizes.