OVER the summer of 2020-21 four lucky University of Queensland undergraduate engineering students were selected to complete a summer research program, six weeks of learning supervised by Dr Cristian Maluk, Abdulrahman ‘Abed’ Zaben (ARC Future Timber Hub PhD student ) and Dr Henri Bailleres (industry partner at Hyne Timber).

The research project was formulated from the ARC Future Timber Hub project ‘A prototype hybrid Timber-FRP with enhanced fire and serviceability performance’.

UQ student Simeon Gover explains: “Reflecting on my time over the summer, I’ve come to realise that I learnt more than technical skills in civil and fire safety engineering. The hands-on experience taught me so much more. 

“I learnt about the day-to-day of academic research. I learnt about the struggles associated with self-management when completing a project with no associated curriculum or learning outcomes for guidance.

“A project which is now finished, ‘The ‘Jolly Jumper’ rig helps demonstrate the strength granted by reinforcing timber beams in a kinaesthetic manner for users.“

The hub project investigates the use of advanced composites to develop new hybrid timber-advanced composites with enhanced fire and serviceability performance.

The Jolly Jumper is a demonstrative set-up of this which allows for the common user to ‘feel’ the contrast in bending stiffness for a normal laminated timber beam compared to a timber beam manufactured using the new technology.

“Bending stiffness is a key design consideration in the design of floor timber systems, most times governing the depth and maximum allowable span of timber floors,“ Dr Maluk said.

“The user experience when using The Jolly Jumper is actually quite simple – bending stiffness is felt by simply jumping while hanging with one foot on the normal timber beam and the other foot on a timber beam manufactured using the new technology. This happens while the user watches data plots (on a large live display) from the displacement and force sensors on each of the beams.”

UQ student Julia Cepon further noted: “The Jolly Jumper provides a tangible demonstration of how carbon fibre reinforcing can improve the structural integrity of timber beams.

“This project excited me from the outset, as I had previously researched reinforced timber in the context of designing a Green Bridge.

“This project allowed me to deepen my understanding of structural and fire safety engineering, experience the trials and tribulations of academic research, and gain an appreciation for the interconnectedness of the design and fabrication process.”

The idea for the tangible rig demonstration came from Dr Maluk. In 2012, while at the University of Edinburgh, he spent a month at Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology. Outside EMPA’s laboratory, there was the rig based on a similar setup showing the benefits of using advanced composites for external retrofitting of steel structures. Only with this information, the team at UQ carried the required structural engineering calculations, design, and construction of what would become The Jolly Jumper at UQ.

The setup at UQ includes sensors and live digital graphics which allows for the forces acting on the beams and the resulting deformations to be shown live when someone jumps on it.

The UQ students have expressed immense thanks to Dr Cristian Maluk and Abed Zaben as mentors throughout the process and to Stewart Matthews, Jason van der Gevel, Van Thuan Nguyen, and Fraser Reid (staff at UQ’s structures lab) for their continuous technical support, and to Dr Henri Bailleres, industry partner at Hyne Timber.

The Jolly Jumper will be unveiled to the public at the UQ Open Day on Sunday, August 1. The public will be able to test the rig and immediately feel the difference in timber beam strength.


The Jolly Jumper jumpers… Dr Cristian Maluk (left) with University of Queensland undergraduate engineering students Simeon Gover, Fraser Reid, Stewart Matthews, Van Thuan Nguyen, Julia Cepon (standing on The Jolly Jumper), Jason van der Gevel, Abed Zaben, Jack Batsaikhan, and Ho Yin Lam.