Professor of Geotechnical Engineering and Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor Mair works in the field of Geotechnical Engineering. He teaches the following courses:
- 1st year Exposition (presentation skills),
- 2nd year Civil Engineering Elective,
- 3rd year Geotechnical Engineering, and
- 4th year module on Ground Engineering
Professor Robert Mair's interest in tunnelling and related geotechnical research was sparked by working in Hong Kong, soon after he graduated from Cambridge, where he became involved in the geotechnical investigations for the design of the new underground mass transit railway. The mechanics of ground movements induced by tunnel construction were very much an unknown area in those days (the late seventies), as were the effects of ground movements on buildings. The development of underground mass transit systems in densely populated cities is now becoming increasingly important, particularly because they have the benefit of being an environmentally friendly way of getting people around and hence are a vital part of sustainable transport development.
In 1983 with two colleagues Robert Mair set up the Geotechnical Consulting Group (GCG), an international consulting company with offices in London and Hong Kong. It employs highly qualified graduates, mostly from Cambridge and Imperial College. The firm specialises in providing advice on all matters connected with geotechnical engineering to public authorities, contractors, and consulting engineers, principally on projects as diverse as oil platform foundations, dam failures, and design and construction of major tunnelling schemes. A recent high profile project involved preventing the damage and unacceptable tilt of Big Ben during tunnelling and excavations for the Jubilee Line Extension.
A substantial proportion of GCG's work is overseas. Through his international consulting work with GCG, Robert Mair has also established close working links with Japan, which he still maintains since coming back into academia as Professor in 1998. A number of research contracts undertaken by the Geotechnical Research Group are supported by Japanese companies, and each year two Cambridge undergraduates undertake their fourth year project work in Japan.
Professor Mair was Master of Jesus College from 2001 to 2011.