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David Elms is a civil engineer and academic. He graduated from Cambridge University and then worked for three years as a structural engineer with the De Havilland Aircraft Company. He did his doctoral work on the behaviour of thin shells at Princeton University and then joined the faculty of the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, specialising first on structural engineering and later on risk and complex systems, with additional research on soil-structure interaction problems.
He was involved in a number of investigations including the safety of nuclear powered ships and the failure of the NZ Police INCIS project. He was heavily involved in the founding of the Centre for Advanced Engineering, and also served as President of the Association of Engineering Education for South East Asia and the Pacific.
He retired in 2000 as emeritus professor and since then has been active in both consulting and research. A series of recent papers (2012 onwards) written with Colin Brown distil many of his ideas. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.