UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering


Prof Nick Tyler

Chadwick Chair of Civil Engineering

Dept of Civil, Environ &Geomatic Eng

Faculty of Engineering Science

Joined UCL
1st Oct 1987

Research summary

Nick Tyler's research investigates the ways in which people interact with their immediate environments. This includes the way in which common functions - such as walking - are managed by subconscious control systems which interact with the physical, sensory and cognitive environments in which people function. Nick Tyler's team is therefore studying pedestrian interactions with the environment, including falling and the fear of falling, both in the static pedestrian environment and inside moving vehicles (e.g. a bus), how people with dementia see their environment, and how infrastructure can be designed to make the environment more sympathetic to people's needs. 

An important aspect of the environment is the changing nature of cities. Having been a Co-Investigator on the EPSRC Programme Grant "Transforming the Engineering of Cities" Nick Tyler's team is addressing how urban and peri-urban living could be better accommodated by design and operation which is more appropriate for the specific circumstances of the people living in and interacting with their immediate environments. This is extended into the development of low carbon technologies in transport systems to improve the sensory and healthy environment. This includes research into the development of new fuels, energy sources and dynamic energy management within vehicles. More recently he has set up a Universal Composition Laboratory (www.cege.uc.ac.uk/arg/ucl-squared) which studies and implement multisensorial design in time and space, fusing arts and science in the design of urban space. He is also a Co-Director in the Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Training Programme on the Ecological Brain, where he works with neuroscientists, psychologists, architects, computer vision, education and data analysts to create a multidisciplinary programme to discover how people navigate in the urban environment.

He is a Co-Investigator on the Government's UK Co-laboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), in which an extensive enhancement of the PAMELA facility is included as one of the new laboratory facilities. This is called the Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory and is due to open in 2019/20. He is also a Co-Investigator on the ESRC/GCRF RELIEF Centre, which is working on prosperity for people in circumstances of displacement, in which he is leading on the issues of urban design.

Teaching summary

Nick Tyler's teaching contribution is driven by a new concept about what engineering is and how this should be enacted in the future. Engineering is to serve the world's population with the aim of aking the world a better place. This view of engineering as a public service requires that future engineers understand in the most complete way what problems the world's population is facing and what the desired outcomes should be from solving these challenges. That outcomes-focused approach led him to make a fundamental renewal of UCL's civil and environmental teaching programmes. Students learn first about how to understand the contexts within which the world lives and then how these could be improved, and then learn the engineering techniques that could be brought to bear on resolving the challenges. Thus the contribution of engineering is not only the hardware and software that drives engineering solutions, but also the intellectual discipline associated to how a problem is identified and analysed outcomes determined, solutions implemented and evaluated. They learn that there is no single correct solution, that equations do not provide answers, but instead provide indications, and that the key to engineering is the interpretation of all the available evidence to making a better understanding of the problem and thus of the implications of potential solutions. Thus engineers need to understand the political, social, economic and environmental context within which they will operate as well as the whole depth of the science and practice disciplines needed to bring about an approach to helping the world improve the quality of living for all its inhabitants. Nick Tyler's teaching activity therefore drives towards this sort of understanding in the next generation of engineers, politicians, investors, ... people.


University College London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1992
Polytechnic of Central London
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 1987
Royal College of Music
Other qualification, Associate of the Royal College of Music | 1975


Nick Tyler is the Director of the UCL Centre for Transport Studies and Chadwick Professor of Civil Engineering, and investigates the ways in which people interact with their immediate environments. He set up the Accessibility Research Group within the Centre for Transport Studies, with a team of researchers investigating many aspects of accessibility and public transport. The group has a total research portfolio of more than £40million for projects directed towards making the world more sympathetic to people's needs and creating a sustainable future for both people and planet. including the PAMELA pedestrian environment laboratory, which is being used to develop models for accessible pedestrian infrastructure, and which is being enhanced as part of the Government's UKCRIC programme, to create a new larger facility called PEARL. His work is highly transdisciplinary, and his team includes and works with, apart from civil and mechanical engineers, psychologists, architects, musicians, philosophers, neuroscientists, artists, urban designers, planners, economists, ophthalmologists, audiologists and orthopaedics. He is a co-founder of the UCL Universal Composition Laboratory (UCL2), which undertakes multisensorial spatiotemporal design.

Nick holds a PhD from University College London, where his thesis was on a methodology for the design of high capacity bus systems using artificial intelligence. He was on the winning team for the EC-funded ‘City Design in Latin America 2000: The European City as a Model’ competition, for the design of the transport interchange at Federico Lacroze in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is currently part of the UK involvement in the Chinese Low Carbon Cities Development project. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Ciivil Engineers, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He was appointed a CBE in the New Year's Honours 2011 for services to technology and elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014.

He is involved in projects in several countries in Latin America, Japan, China and continental Europe, as well as in London and elsewhere in the UK.