Prof Usmani joined PolyU in August 2016 after working in UK academia for nearly 30 years. After a Master’s degree in Structural Engineering from Stanford University (California), his research career began with developing finite element codes for simulation of foundry casting processes at Swansea University involving modelling of fluid flow, heat transfer and phase change. His background in structural engineering and computational heat transfer and fluid dynamics led him to take up fire safety engineering research (focussing on fire resistance of structures) upon accepting a lectureship position at University Edinburgh (1995). Prof Usmani’s predominant research interest over the past 20 years has been to understand the thermo-mechanical behaviour of structures in real fires using analytical and computational methods validated with experimental data. The aim of this work is to move away from the prevalent prescriptive practice for design of structural fire resistance by developing new and rational design methods in which realistic representations of demand (fire and loads) are set against scientifically robust estimates of structural capacity (resistance) in order to ensure reliable performance. His research has yielded over 200 peer reviewed publications; authored and edited books; and many technical reports resulting from research funding in excess of £7 million so far.


Academic and Professional Qualifications

BEng (Civil Engineering); MS (Structural Engineering, Stanford University); PhD (University of Wales, Swansea); CEng; FIStructE


Research Interests

Performance based structural and fire safety engineering; development of computational tools for realistic simulation of structural response to fire loading; and promoting resilience of infrastructure and communities to man-made and natural disasters


Research and Academic Experiences

·         Visiting Professor at University of Edinburgh and Brunel University London (BUL)

·         Professor and Head of the Division of Civil Engineering, Brunel University London (Oct’15-Aug’16)

·         Professor of Structural Engineering, the University of Edinburgh (UoE) until Sept’2015

·         Head, Research Institute for Infrastructure and Environment, UoE (2011-2015)

·         Director, Civil & Environmental Engineering Joint Research Institute of the Edinburgh Research Partnership (2009-2013)

·         Visiting Professor at Lulea University of Technology, Sweden (2008-2011)

·         Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader, UoE (1995-2007)

·         Research Associate, University of Wales, Swansea (1987-1995)

·         Member, ASME K-20 Computational Heat Transfer Committee (1996-2006)

·         Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Structural Engineers

·         Member, International Society for Health Monitoring of Intelligent Infrastructure (ISHMII) Council

·         Vice President of European OpenSees Association (EOS), see

·         Track leader for computational modelling, Structures in Fire (SiF) conferences

·         Organiser and Co-Chair International Conference Structural Safety under Fire and Blast (CONFAB)


Teaching Experience

·         Design of Reinforced Concrete Structures (UoE)

·         Computer Methods in Structural and Mechanical Engineering (UoE)

·         Engineering Mathematics (UoE)

·         The Finite Element Method (UoE)

·         Nonlinear Structural Analysis (UoE)

·         Fire Resistance of Structures (UoE)

·         Numerical Methods and Computing (PolyU)


Selected Research and Development Grants

At the University of Edinburgh

·         1996-2000 Behaviour of steel frame structures in fire (DETR, PiT scheme: £370,000)

·         2001-2004 For the establishment of a Scottish Mechano-Transduction Consortium (SHEFC £101,474)

·         2003-2006 Thermal efficiency, structural and fire resistance of lightweight buildings (KTP £150,000)

·         2004-2005 The FireGrid Cluster for Next Generation Emergency Response Systems (EPSRC £60,540)

·         2005-2009 FireGrid: An Emergency Response System for Modern Built Environment (DTI £2.3 Mil.)

·         2007-2011 Fire resistance and repair of earthquake damaged structures (UKIERI £145,819)

·         2009-2012 Enhancing seismic and fire robustness and integrating intelligence in modular buildings (KTP £265,000)

·         2008-2013 For Joint Research Institute for Civil and Environmental Engineering (SFC £2.1 Mil.)

·         2011-2014 Real fires for safe design of tall buildings (EPSRC, co-I with Professor Torero, £818,920)


At Brunel University London

·         2016-2023 Educational Programme in Flood and Coastal Engineering (Environment Agency £2.9 Mil.)


Research Overview

Modelling of the seminal full-scale fire tests carried out at a BRE facility in Cardington. This work comprehensively explained the behaviour of steel framed composite structures in fire identifying key features of behaviour and conclusively demonstrating the critical role of thermally induced deformations which had been underestimated before. An extensive body of reports ( was produced and subsequent refereed publications and has had a lasting impact on the profession.


Performance-based fire resistance design of a multi-storey office building in London. Assisted consultants Arup (based on the modelling work above) in their first such design (Plantation Place) saving £250k in fire protection costs for the client. This was also the first time three different design fires were used to try and determine the worst case for the structure based on ideas in. This work is continuing to develop with explicit consideration of the uncertainties in the fire loading as part of a probabilistic framework which has recently been implemented into software tool for engineers.


Modelling of WTC collapses and discovery of generic tall building collapse mechanisms.  After the tragic events of Sept 11, 2001, many small to large structural models were developed to understand how a large fire over multiple floors could induce collapse of the WTC towers. This work resulted in a highly cited paper and multiple invitations by the official US investigator NIST to present to them (also cited in the official NIST report at This work also led to the discovery of two generic collapse mechanisms for multi-storey frames in fire and has been reported extensively in structural engineering literature.


Development of fundamental solutions for problems in thermo-mechanics.  The computational simulations carried out as part of the work mentioned above spawned a parallel activity on developing analytical solutions to a range of problems in thermo-mechanics (primarily for beams, plates and shells subjected to thermal gradients under different boundary restraint conditions). The solutions have ranged from simple engineering approximations to classical closed form solutions by setting up and solving the relevant PDEs. This work has been invaluable in benchmarking the accuracy of the computational work and is continuing.


Demonstration of the feasibility of real time distributed emergency response system. Also motivated by the 9/11 event, a £2.3 Million ground-breaking FireGrid project was proposed (50% funded by TSB). The feasibility of the concept was demonstrated in a full-scale fire test at BRE (Watford) with the system running on a cluster in Edinburgh and predicting the fire evolution and the structural collapse of a steel truss in real time.


Response of earthquake damaged structures to fire. This work started with a UKEIRI funded project with IIT Roorkee and Indian Institute of Science. The funding allowed the construction of a large test facility at IIT Roorkee for testing full scale reinforced concrete frames. The frames were first subjected to simulated seismic damage (through imposing cyclic displacements sufficient to cause “life safety” levels of drift) and then subjecting them to real fires (by constructing a compartment around the frame and feeding the fire through a continuously replenished kerosene pool). These tests are the first of their kind and have been reported in a number of publications.


Simulating structures in fire exploiting the open source software framework OpenSees. Ongoing work to develop a common international research platform for modelling structures in fire and multiple hazards (such fire following an earthquake). This development work has been added to official OpenSees releases since release 2.4 in October 2012 (OpenSees is managed by University of California, Berkeley). A local site is maintained for the most current versions of the software ( 


Selected Major Publications

A critical review of "travelling fire" scenarios for performance-based structural engineering, Xu Dai, Stephen Welch and Asif Usmani, Fire Safety Journal, 2017,

Temperature-dependent nonlinear analysis of thin shallow shells: A theoretical approach, Payam Khazaeinejad and Asif Usmani, Composite Structures, 141:1--13, 2016.

On thermo-mechanical nonlinear behaviour of thin shallow shells, Payam Khazaeinejad and Asif Usmani, International Journal of Non-Linear Mechanics, 82:114--123, 2016.

Jian Jiang, Guoqiang Li and Asif Usmani, Fire safety assessment of Super Tall Buildings: A Case Study on Shanghai Tower, Case Studies in Fire Safety, 4:28--38, 2015.

Payam Khazaienejad, Asif Usmani and Omar Laghrouche, Temperature-dependent nonlinear behaviour of thin rectangular plates exposed to through-depth thermal gradients, Composite Structures, 132:652--664, 2015.

Chao Zhang and Asif Usmani, Heat transfer principles in thermal calculation of structures in fire, Fire Safety Journal, 78:85--95, 2015.

Suwen Chen, Liming Jiang, Asif Usmani, Guoqiang Li and Chu Jin, Damage mechanism investigation of spray-applied fire-resistive materials on the axially loaded steel Members, Construction and Building Materials, 90:18--35, 2015.

Umesh Sharma, Praveen  Kamath, Virendra Kumar, Pradeep Bhargava, Asif Usmani, Bhupinder Singh, Yogendra  Singh, Jose  Torero, Martin  Gillie, Pankaj  Pankaj, Full Scale Fire Test on an Earthquake-Damaged Reinforced Concrete Frame, Fire Safety Journal, 73:1--19, 2015.

Payam Khazaienejad, Asif Usmani and Omar Laghrouche, An analytical study of the nonlinear thermo-mechanical behaviour of thin isotropic rectangular plates, Computers and Structures, 141:1--8, 2014. Among ``top 25 hottest articles'' in this Journal from July to September 2014 (number 15).

David Lange, Shaun Devaney and Asif Usmani, An application of the PEER PBEE framework to structures in fire, Engineering Structures, 66:100--115, 2014.

Jian Jiang, Liming Jiang, Panagiotis Kotsovinos, Jian Zhang, Asif Usmani, Frank McKenna and Guo-Qiang Li, OpenSees software architecture for the analysis of structures in fire, Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering, ASCE, 2013.

Chao Zhang, Guo-Qiang Li and Asif Usmani, Simulating the behavior of restrained steel beams to flame impingement from localized-fires,  Journal of Constructional Steel Research, 83:156--165, 2013.

Yaqiang Jiang, Guillermo Rein, Stephen Welch and Asif Usmani, Modeling  fire-induced radiative heat transfer in smoke filled structural cavities, International Journal of Thermal Sciences, 66:24--33, 2013.

Jian Jiang and Asif Usmani, Modeling of steel frame structures in fire using OpenSees, Computers and Structures, 118:90--99, 2013.

Panagiotis Kotsovinos, Yaqiang Jiang and Asif Usmani, Effect of vertically travelling fires on the collapse of tall buildings, International Journal of High-Rise Buildings, 2:49--62, 2013.

Panagiotis Kotsovinos and Asif Usmani, The World Trade Center 9/11 Disaster and Progressive Collapse of Tall Buildings, Fire Technology, 49:741--765, 2013.

David Lange, Charlotte Roben and Asif Usmani, Tall building collapse mechanisms initiated by fire: Mechanisms and design methodology, Engineering Structures, 36:90--103, 2012.

Han L, Potter S, Beckett G, Pringle G, Koo S-H, Wickler G, Welch S, Usmani A, Torero J and Tate A., FireGrid: An e-infrastructure for next-generation emergency response support, Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, 70:1128--1141, 2010.

G.R.Flint, A.S.Usmani, S.Lamont, J.Torero, B.A.Lane, Structural response of tall buildings to multiple floor fires, Journal of Structural Engineering, ASCE, 133(12):1719--1732, 2007.

S.Lamont, B.A.Lane, G.R.Flint and A.S.Usmani, Behaviour of structures in fire and real design - A case study, Journal of Fire Protection Engineering, 16:5-35, 2006.

G.R.Flint, A.S.Usmani, S.Lamont, J.Torero, B.A.Lane, Effect of Fire on Composite Long span Truss Floor Systems, Journal of Constructional Steel Research, 62:303--315, 2006.

A.Usmani, Understanding the response of composite structures to fire, Engineering Journal, American Institute of Steel Construction, Inc., 42(2):83-98, 2005.

A.Usmani, Stability of the World Trade Center Twin Towers structural frame in multiple floor fires, Journal of Engineering Mechanics, ASCE, Invited technical note in special issue on ``Advances in Stability of Framed Structures'', 131:654--657, 2005.

A.Usmani and N.J.K Cameron, Limit capacity of laterally restrained reinforced concrete floor slabs in fire, Cement and Concrete Composites, 26(2):127-140.

N.Cameron and A.S.Usmani,  A New Design Method to Determine the Membrane Capacity of Laterally Restrained Composite Floor Slabs in Fire, Part 1: Theory and Method and Part 2: Validation, The Structural Engineer, 83(19):28--39, 2005.

S.Lamont, A.S.Usmani and M.Gillie, Behaviour of a small composite steel frame structure in “long-cool” and “short-hot” fires, Fire Safety Journal, 39:327--357, 2004.

A.S.Usmani, Y.C.Chung and J.L.Torero, How did the WTC Towers Collapse? A New Theory, Fire Safety Journal, 38:501--533, 2003.

M.Gillie, A.S.Usmani, and J.M.Rotter, A structural analysis of the Cardington British Steel Corner  Test, Journal of Constructional Steel Research, 58(4):427--442, 2002.

A.S.Usmani, D.A.Mayne, and M.Crapper, h-adaptivity and “honest” GFEM for advection dominated transport, Numerical Heat Transfer, Part B, 41:1--21, 2002.

A.S.Usmani, J.M.Rotter, S.Lamont, A.M.Sanad, and M.Gillie, Fundamental principles of structural behaviour under thermal effects, Fire Safety Journal, 36:721--744, 2001.

M.Gillie, A.S.Usmani, and J.M.Rotter, A structural analysis of the first Cardington test, Journal of Constructional Steel Research, 57(6):581--601, 2001.

D.A.Mayne, A.S.Usmani, and M.Crapper, h-adaptive finite element solution of unsteady thermally driven cavity problem, International Journal of Numerical Methods in Heat and Fluid Flow, 11:172--194, 2001. Presented ``Literati Club Highly Commended Award'' as one of the best papers in this Journal in 2001.

D.A.Mayne, A.S.Usmani, and M.Crapper, h-adaptive finite element solution of high Rayleigh number  thermally driven cavity problem, International Journal of Numerical Methods in Heat and Fluid Flow, 10:598--615, 2000.

A.Usmani, Solution of steady and transient advection problems using an h-adaptive finite element method, International Journal of Computational Fluid Dynamics, 11:249--259, 1999.

A.Usmani, An h-adaptive SUPG-FEM solution of the pure advection equation, Applied Numerical Mathematics, 26:193--202, 1998.

I.Masters, A.S.Usmani, J.T.Cross, and R.W.Lewis, Finite element analysis for solidification using object oriented and parallel techniques, International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering,  40:2891--2909, 1997.<2891::AID-NME216>3.0.CO;2-J

R.W.Lewis, A.S.Usmani, and J.T.Cross, Efficient mould filling simulation in castings by an explicit finite element method, International Journal for Numerical Methods in Fluids, 20:493--506, 1994.

A.S.Usmani, J.T.Cross, and R.W.Lewis,  A finite element model for the simulation of mould filling in metal casting and the associated heat transfer, International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering,  35:787--806, 1992.

A.S.Usmani, R.W.Lewis, and K.N.Seetharamu, Finite element modeling of natural convection controlled change of phase, International Journal for Numerical Methods in Fluids, 14:1019--1036, 1992.

R.W.Lewis, H.C.Huang, A.S.Usmani, and J.T.Cross, Finite element analysis of heat transfer and flow problems using  adaptive remeshing including application to solidification, International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, 32:767--781, 1991.