TIMBER building materials produced from sustainably-grown local plantations and the benefits this brings to reducing carbon output are the thrusts of a prize-winning project by two University of Queensland civil engineering students.

Duncan Hossy and William Webster were awarded Responsible Wood Civil Engineering prizes for excellence in timber design for two bridges at the Brisbane Valley Adventure Rail Trail.

The students were recognised for their performance in coursework and commitment to timber building. They were paired with masters architecture group Sam Chen, Dae Kim and Neve Sela who created an architectural concept design for Duncan and William to engineer over a six-week period.

The longest rail trail in Australia at 161 km, building commenced at Wulkuraka near Ipswich in 1884 and was completed at Yarraman, 165 km from Brisbane, in 1913.

The historic trail winds its way up the Brisbane valley, traversing forests, farmlands and country towns.

“Timber has the aesthetic benefit of easily integrating into the forested environment of the surrounding area,” Duncan Hossy and William Webster said.

“The use of timber, however, creates new durability challenges with respect to sun and moisture exposure, insect attack and fire threats, so these durability impacts were also part of the project,” they said.

Primary focus of the project was, of course, on the structural design of timber members for strength and serviceability (deflection, vibration etc).

Duncan Hossy has completed a four-year bachelor of engineering with first-class honours, majoring in civil engineering. His sights were set on becoming a structural engineer when he was in Grade 9 at school. He accepted a graduate structural engineering position at Brisbane consultant engineering firm Bornhorst and Ward in 2021 and has been involved in a 20-storey residential high-rise project at Milton.

“Ever since completing the Design of Timber Structures course at UQ I have been strongly pushing to integrate timber into as many structures as I can,” Duncan said.

“I am also considering completing a PhD in timber engineering in the future after gathering some practical experience.”

Duncan and William also completed a design of a residential high-rise timber structure in a fourth-year advanced elective called ‘Advanced structural Analysis’.

During the project they used finite element analysis (FEM) theory to analyse all structural components including CLT floors and walls and glulam beams and connections. This was purely a structural design course so all their focus was on engineering design.

Responsible Wood CEO Simon Dorries said he was impressed with the passion expressed by timber students in the winning projects.

“They give us the ideal opportunity to connect with the next generation of leaders in civil engineering design – a generation increasingly concerned with the wellbeing of global forests,” Mr Dorries said.

The award dovetails with a project in wood architecture design also sponsored by Responsible Wood and pesented to UQ students Dylan Francis and Simin Louei for an observatory tower concept.


Celebrating timber design at the University of Queensland… Zidi Yan, PhD candidate in structural timber engineering, Dr Lisa Ottenhaus, lecturer, Sam Butler, senior technical officer, UQ Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, Duncan Hossy and William Webster. UQ School of Civil Engineering, Kim Baber, fellow in Civil Engineering and Architecture, Dr Catherine Keys, research fellow, School of Architecture, and Dylan Francis and Simin Louei, School of Architecture.

Bridging the gap between worlds and cultures … the concept for the Brsibane Valley Rail Trail timber bridge project was gounded on the historical significance of the site … Aboriginal, colonial and biological. The two bridges will reflect past and present ideas of construction.