Professor Tim Ibell

I am very happy to provide a supporting statement as part of the nomination for Dr David Brohn to receive State-Honours recognition for his extraordinary contributions to structural safety.

Buildings and bridges are shaped as they are, and indeed they stand up robustly, because of the deep technical skill of the structural engineering profession. The importance of embedding this skill cannot be over-stated, but usually only forms part of public understanding when that rarest of event, structural collapse, occurs. As an example, when the Morandi Bridge collapsed in Italy in 2018, it was structural engineers who were asked what could possibly have gone wrong. The reality is that very few interviewers ask what could possibly have gone right in the other structures which stay standing, which create the very basis of our civilisation.

Dr David Brohn represents exactly the injection of such a ‘doing things right’ skill in our structural engineers across the UK in helping to keep our projects safe.

David had the vision, many decades ago, to test newly-qualified structural-engineering graduates using the ‘Brohn Test’, in an attempt to gauge real understanding of structural behaviour. This still continues to this day. When the results began to concern David, he developed ideas to target deficiencies through bespoke approaches which rely on intuition as much as on mathematics, and to extend the availability of his approach via books, workshops and online courses.

Anyone who has engaged with David’s materials will testify that they transform one’s understanding of structural behaviour. This is not an exaggeration. David has done as much to protect our society from catastrophe as anyone I can think of. He has instilled real skill into our structural engineers, he has done this over decades, he has done this altruistically, and he has done this with enormous success. When I was President of the Institution of Structural Engineers in 2015, I awarded David the President’s Medal for his outstanding services to keeping our structural designs safe. This was only the second time in the 112-year history of the Institution that this medal has been awarded. To say it is a special honour is to underplay its extraordinary significance.

Indirectly, David has saved lives and has ensured that structures may be designed with total confidence. This is quite a legacy, and David deserves due recognition for his contributions in the form of State Honours. His nomination carries my fullest support.

Yours faithfully,

Professor Tim Ibell FREng CEng FIStructE FICE FHEA

University of Bath

Dr Mike Cook

Having known David Brohn for some 20 years I would like to support the submission for him to be awarded an OBE for his valuable service to the education of structural engineers.

Through his remarkable and selfless enterprise, he has contributed to raising the quality of structural engineering design across the UK. This has undoubtedly resulted in improved safety and greater economy of design in innumerable new and renovated buildings.

David’s focus has been to develop engineers’ skills in understanding and communicating how structural frames carry load through deformation and the distribution of stresses in the material. He has emphasised the value of traditional conceptual techniques that could have become obsolete in a world dominated by computer analysis. In so doing, innumerable engineers have developed a more instinctive and deeper qualitative understanding of how structures behave under loads. This has allowed them to review and improve their designs by undertaking simple, instinctive assessments, thereby avoiding errors that might lead to excessive use of material or compromise safety.

In recent years, David has extended his valuable teaching into the use of physical and on-screen models which makes the appreciation of structural behaviour more tangible and turns it from a cerebral to a physical experience. This has made the qualitative understanding that is so crucial even more easily absorbed.

David has demonstrated single-minded determination and made it his mission to raise the understanding of structural engineers of all ages. This has benefitted not only the profession of structural engineering but also the safety of the public and the economy of materials used in construction. I firmly believe that these qualities and this achievement deserves national recognition as represented in the awarding of this honour.

Yours faithfully

Dr Mike Cook MA, PhD, CEng, DEng (Hon), FREng, FRSA, FIStructE

Buro Happold