Celebrating a Rock Mechanics Legend

Long-time Golder senior consultant Ted Brown, also known as Emeritus Professor E T Brown AC, is considered a global rock mechanics legend. A testament to that is Ted’s impressive career spanning more than 55 years’ international experience as a researcher, teacher, consultant and writer on rock mechanics and its applications in the mining, civil engineering and energy resources industries.

Ted recently turned 80, which also marked his official retirement. The milestone was celebrated with a colloquium attended by leading rock mechanics and rock engineering specialists from around the world who gathered to pay tribute to Ted’s contribution to the discipline.

“We’re very proud of having had Ted as part of the Golder family and of the long-lasting legacy he leaves behind after coaching, mentoring and inspiring so many of our rock mechanics consultants,” said Neil Benson, Principal and Golder Board Member.

“Ted’s research in the mechanical properties of rocks and rock masses, the shear strengths of infilled discontinuities, the design of mining and other underground excavations, block and panel caving geomechanics, concrete dam stabilisation, and risk assessment in rock engineering made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of rock mechanics.”

Ted has worked on a variety of Golder projects including most major block cave projects globally, along with many mining and tunneling projects in Australia such as Cadia mine in New South Wales, Clem 7 and Airport Link tunnel projects in Queensland and expert guidance following the Lane Cove tunnel collapse in Sydney.

“It has been a privilege to have worked with Ted for over 30 years and watch a true scholar at work,” said Robert Morphet, Principal Engineering Geologist/Hydrogeologist at Golder in Australia. “Ted contributed to solving some of our clients’ biggest challenges and, in doing so, to the development of many specialists within Golder. His expertise is imprinted in our technical excellence and in our next generation of rock mechanics experts.”

The famous Hoek-Brown failure criterion developed by Ted and Dr Evert Hoek was first published in 1980 and quickly gained acceptance in the field of rock mechanics as a tool for estimating the strength of heavily jointed rock masses. Over the following 38 years, a number of modifications have been made and a paper “The Hoek-Brown failure criterion and GSI – 2018 edition” will be published in a special ET Brown Colloquium Edition of the Journal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering in mid-2019.

Ross Hammett, Principal, Senior Civil/Mining Engineer at Golder in Canada said: “Ted is nothing short of a legend. His contributions and accomplishments as a teacher, researcher, professor, author, and university administrator have earned him the highest respect around the world by both his peers and the literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of practicing geotechnical engineers who know him by name and his written word, if not in person.”

“At a personal level, I owe my introduction to geotechnical engineering and subsequent formative education to Ted through the undergraduate classes that I was privileged to take from him in the mid to late 1960s,” added Ross. “He was a master presenter and lecturer, and I remain ever grateful that the fundamentals he taught me have served me so well over my entire career.”

About Ted Brown

Born in Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia, Ted has Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) and Master of Engineering Science degrees from University of Melbourne, a PhD from University of Queensland, and Doctor of Science (Engineering) from University of London. He began his engineering career in the then State Electricity Commission of Victoria’s Latrobe Valley brown coal mining operations in 1960, whilst his academic career included studies at University of Minnesota, USA, and Cambridge University, UK, prior to joining the staff of Imperial College of Science and Technology, in London, as Reader in Rock Mechanics in 1975. He was appointed Professor of Rock Mechanics in 1979, and subsequently served as Dean of the Royal School of Mines and as Head of the Department of Mineral Resources Engineering.

Ted returned to Australia in 1987 as the University of Queensland’s first full-time Dean of Engineering and also commenced his association with Golder at this time. He became the sole Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University in 1990, and Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 1996. On retiring early from that position in early 2001, he became an Emeritus Professor of the University and has since worked as a Senior Consultant to Golder, based in our Brisbane office.

Ted was elected an International Fellow of The Royal Academy of Engineering, UK, in 1989, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 1990. In 2001, he was appointed a Companion in the Order of Australia (AC), the highest award in the national honours system, for “services to the engineering profession as a world expert in rock mechanics and to scholarship through promotion of the highest academic and professional standards.”

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