Pells Consulting was founded in 2009 by Dr Philip Pells to offer specialist services in his fields of expertise, namely geotechnical engineering and rock and soil mechanics. He was joined in 2012 by his son Steven Pells, who was undertaking his PhD studies at the University of New South Wales at that time. Steven’s skills in the complementary fields of hydraulics, hydrology and hydrogeology made an effective team with Philip when dealing with various projects in which understanding of these interacting (but often separate) fields were required. Examples include forensic investigations for structural failures in embankments and mining emplacements, analysis of impacts from underground works to surface of ground water resources, collapse of tunneling works, or design of civil and geotechnical structures. The complement of skills is also key in assessment of erosion of rock under high velocity flows – the subject matter of Steven’s PhD.
Dr Philip Pells has long been an advocate of applying the scientific method in engineering analysis, wherein matters of opinion should be supported by testable fact and hypothesis. Philip’s characteristic drive, his scientific curiosity and wonder, thoroughness of research and quest for detailed understanding has set the culture under which Pells Consulting continues.
Pells Consulting went into abeyance from 2017 to 2021, when Philip attempted once more to retire, and Steven went to work in further commercial engineering consultancy.
In 2022, Dr Steven Pells reignited Pells Consulting, this time leading the charge, with Philip providing intermittent mentoring and advice, around the whims of his availability now that new interests developed during retirement seem to be setting in.
Dr Steven Pells
Dr Steven Pells is Director of Pells Consulting. Steven spent his formative years constructing physical scale hydraulic models to support consulting services in civil engineering and thereafter has remained actively involved in projects requiring the assessment of hydrological and hydraulic issues, with particular experience in applying water engineering principles to geotechnical and civil engineering problems. His PhD studies into scour of spillways in 2016 including undertaking inspection and analysis of over 30 dam spillways, and he has remained active in specialist field since that time, both in undertaking the technical studies and providing expert advice on technical review panels. Steven has authored/co-authored over 30 papers in various fields of civil engineering, including hydraulics, hydrology, groundwater and rock mechanics.
Steven has led various hydrological studies, primarily relating to mining developments, ranging from design of onsite detention and smaller dams, development or assessment of mine closure plans and assessment of mining impacts on surface water and groundwater resources. He has also led various flood studies. Through these activities he has developed various hydrological skills and tools, including various commercial and proprietary rainfall-runoff (loss) models and 1D and 2D flood models, which all directly relevant to dam hydrology assessments.
Steven spent close to 10 years of his early career working in a hydraulics laboratory, during which time he was responsible for the design, construction and testing of various physical scale hydraulic models of dam spillways, inlets, diversions, hydraulic structures and coastal structures. These formative years were essential in development of a strong understanding of hydraulics. He also has a strong undertaking of analytical assessment of hydraulics and open channel flows, open water processes such as tides and wave mechanics, scour in chutes and channels and coastal structures and lectures on these topics at Sydney University. In his professional work he has developed skills in hydrodynamic modelling, including 1D, 2D and 3D (CFD) numerical flow modelling. Since completing PhD studies at the University of New South Wales on scour of unlined dam spillways he has been actively engaged in design and assessment of energy dissipation and erosion protection works.
Steven has also considerable experience in groundwater and seepage, including hydrogeological field investigations and interpretation and detailed seepage modelling in 1, 2 and 3D for both civil projects, tunneling, mining and design / appraisal of embankment dams.
Dr Philip Pells
It is not necessary to provide a extensive bio for Philip – firstly because his legacy in projects and publications speaks for itself, and secondly he has retired from hands-on consulting but provides advice and guidance as and when appropriate. He was one of 15 persons elected as Lifetime Members of the Australian Geomechanics Society at the time of the 50th Anniversary in 2020.