Dr James Lim



My PhD was on the topic of cold-formed steel portal frames (thesis can be downloaded here), supervised by Professor D.A. Nethercot. Following this, I spent five years working at the Steel Construction Institute (The SCI), where I extended my research interests to include hot-rolled steel, composite construction and fire. I have been a full-time academic since 2007, working at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, and Queen's University, Belfast, before joining the University of Auckland in 2014. To-date, I have authored around 130 journal papers and supervised fourteen PhD students to completion, six of whom went on to pursue full-time academic careers. My research is dominated in trying to understand fundamental structural behaviour, for which I employ a combination of full-scale testing and finite element modelling.

More recently, my research includes structural engineering applications to Building Information Modelling (BIM). A recent paper entitled "Finite element investigation of cold-formed steel portal frames in fire" describes how a BIM model was moved to ABAQUS and subsequently used to investigate the behaviour of portal frames in fire; this paper won the Palmer Prize. (Video of the portal frame burnt to collapse.)

I would be very happy to receive applications for PhD and ME on both structural engineering and BIM. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions. Titles of the research work that I have previously been involved with can be most easily seen on my Google Scholar page.

Full-scale fire tests on portal frames for Ross Johnston's PhD: video video
Full-scale testing on cladding for Krishanu Roy's PhD: video video
Cyclic tests on stainless steel beams for Hafez's PhD: video
Racking tests for Zhenghao Tang's and James Maguire's PhDs: video

I am also currently working on BIM for bridges, using the finite element software Siemens NX, in cooperation with Professor Noeldgen of University of Applied Sciences Cologne, and host exchange students from their lab. Recent students include Jan Offenberg, Steffen Sake and Leslie Grosse. Here are some video tutorials: Video 1 Video 2 Video 3 Video 4. Here are some lectures from Professor Noeldgen recorded as part of our exchange: Part 1 - Overview Part 2 - Bridge Structures

Research | Current

Cold-formed steel portal frames; Portal frames, Cold-formed steel, Composite construction, Trusses, Genetic Algorithms, Concrete filled steel tubes in fire, BIM for cold-formed steel structures, BIM for bridges (using Siemens NX), Pedagogy of teaching bending moment diagrams

Teaching | Current

The threshold concepts of freebody diagrams, leading onto the concepts of bending moment diagrams and shear force diagrams, are problematic for some students at UoA. With a large number of UG student volunteers, we have been trying to develop the contents of a XorroQ app that may help some students. They are not perfect, but can be viewed below. Any feedback, positive or negative would be appreciated, either by email or through the feedback form:
Beam 1 Beam 2 Beam 3 Beam 4 Cantilever 3
​(guests can login using my email address of james.lim@auckland.ac.nz)

Videos from the web
Some excellent videos on bending moment diagrams: David Brohn 1 David Brohn 2 David Brohn 3
Some videos from Dr Structure: SA11

Courses taught at UoA
CIV211: Structures and Design 2
CIV718: Cold-formed steel structures and building information modelling (BIM)
​CIV743: Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Postgraduate supervision

Current PhD Students as main or joint-main supervisor:

  • Mr Zhibin Han
  • Mr Zhengxin Xie 
  • Mr Yang Shuyan
  • Mr Yazeed Al-Radhi
  • Ms Maryam Hasanli 
  • Mr Masoud Pourmasoud 
  • Mr Xin Chen 
  • Ms Rushi Cui 
  • Mr Pouya Rad

Writing up:

  • Mr Boshan Chen 
  • Mr Pouya Pouladi
  • Mr Rehan Masood
  • Mr Matt Russell

Completed PhD Students as main or joint-main supervisor:

  • Mr Milad Jabbari (thesis submitted; awaiting viva)
  • Mr Hafez Taheri (thesis submitted; awaiting viva)
  • Mr Milad Bahrebar (completing corrections): Structural Behavior and Seismic Performance Assessment of Steel Plate Shear Walls with Corrugated, Perforated, and Low Yield Point Steel Web Plates
  • Ms Maelle Van Thinen (completing corrections): Analysis of cold-formed steel structures
  • Dr Amir Shahmohamady: Development of a novel tapered box cold-formed steel portal framing system
  • Dr Krishanu Roy: Behaviour of cold-formed steel claddings under static and constant amplitude cyclic wind loading
  • Dr James Maguire: Analysis and design of steel storage racks subjected to rocking
  • Dr Amirmohammad Yousefi: Web crippling of cold-formed stainless steel channel sections
  • Dr Kingsley Ukanwa: Fire design of concrete filled steel tube continuous column subjected to concentric or eccentric axial loading
  • Dr Andrzej Wrzesien: Effect of stressed skin action on the behaviour of cold-formed steel portal frames
  • Dr Migel Paya: Back-pass non-perforated solar air collectors: Performance and evaluation
  • Dr Ying Lian: Web crippling behaviour of cold-formed steel sections with circular web openings under one-flange loading
  • ​Dr Ross McKinstray: Single storey steel optimisation for steel weight and carbon incorporating asymmetrical topology with photovotaric panels
  • Dr Ross Johnston: Behaviour of cold-formed steel portal frames at ambient and elevated temperatures
  • Dr Mahbubur Rahman: A computational study of the behaiour of hot-rolled steel portal frames in fire
  • Dr Duoc Phan: Design optimisation of steel portal frames using real-coded niching genetic algorithm
  • Dr Asraf Uzzaman: Web crippling behaviour of cold-formed steel member with web opening
  • Dr Gordon Callaghan: Wind induced vibrations in tall buildings

Current PhD Students as co-supervisor:

  • Mr Arthur Fang
  • Mr Feng Wang 

Completed PhD Students as co-supervisor

  • Dr Zhenghao Tang 
  • Dr Hooman Rezaeian


2021 Top Tutor
2016 Palmer Prize
2015 Top Tutor
2015 Teaching portfolio award for Xorroq activities
​2007 William Mong Fellowship
1997-2001 University of Nottingham Doctoral Scholarship



Department Graduate Advisor (2020 to present)
Department Research Committee (2020 to present)
Academic Programs Commitee (2018 to 2020)
Faculty Research Committee (2016 - 2019)
Faculty Accreditation Committee (2015-2016)
​Part IV Project Co-ordinator (2014-2018)
​Part II Year Advisor (2014 to present) 



Areas of expertise

Cold-formed steel portal frames

Committees/Professional groups/Services

AS/NZS 4600 Cold-formed steel structures

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Jing, J., Clifton, G. C., Roy, K., & Lim, J. B. P. (2020). Three-storey modular steel building with a novel slider device: Shake table tests on a scaled down model and numerical investigation. Thin-Walled Structures, 15510.1016/j.tws.2020.106932
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Krishanu Roy, Charles Clifton
  • Feng, R., Wu, C., Chen, Z., Roy, K., Chen, B., & Lim, J. B. P. (2020). An experimental study on stainless steel hybrid tubular joints with square braces and circular chord. Thin-Walled Structures, 155.10.1016/j.tws.2020.106919
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Krishanu Roy
  • Jing, J., Clifton, G. C., Roy, K., & Lim, J. B. P. (2020). Performance of a novel slider device in multi-storey cold-formed steel modular buildings under seismic loading. Structures, 27, 212-246. 10.1016/j.istruc.2020.05.051
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Krishanu Roy, Charles Clifton
  • Uzzaman, A., Lim, J. B. P., Nash, D., & Roy, K. (2020). Web crippling behaviour of cold-formed steel channel sections with edge-stiffened and unstiffened circular holes under interior-two-flange loading condition. THIN-WALLED STRUCTURES, 15410.1016/j.tws.2020.106813
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Krishanu Roy
  • Chen, B., Roy, K., Uzzaman, A., Raftery, G. M., & Lim, J. B. P. (2020). Parametric study and simplified design equations for cold-formed steel channels with edge-stiffened holes under axial compression. Journal of Constructional Steel Research, 172.10.1016/j.jcsr.2020.106161
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Krishanu Roy, Gary Raftery
  • Roy, K., Lau, H. H., Ting, T. C. H., Chen, B., & Lim, J. B. P. (2020). Flexural capacity of gapped built-up cold-formed steel channel sections including web stiffeners. Journal of Constructional Steel Research, 17210.1016/j.jcsr.2020.106154
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Krishanu Roy
  • Jing, J., Clifton, G. C., Roy, K., & Lim, J. B. P. (2020). Seismic protection of modular buildings with bonded rubber unit sliders: Experimental study. Thin-Walled Structures, 15410.1016/j.tws.2020.106790
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Krishanu Roy, Charles Clifton
  • Phan, D. T., Mojtabaei, S. M., Hajirasouliha, I., Lau, T. L., & Lim, J. B. P. (2020). Design and Optimization of Cold-Formed Steel Sections in Bolted Moment Connections Considering Bimoment. JOURNAL OF STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING, 146 (8)10.1061/(ASCE)ST.1943-541X.0002715


Contact details

Alternative contact

mobile: 022 417 5301

Primary office location

Level 3, Room 313
New Zealand

Web links