The University of New South Wales has positioned itself as a key authority on critical infrastructure risks and requirements with the establishment of the new Centre for Infrastructure Engineering & Safety (CIES).

CIES director Professor Mark Bradford, from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said the new Centre aims to become an internationally recognised research centre for investigating, understanding and predicting the safety and behaviour of all types of engineering infrastructure.

Professor Bradford, speaking at the launch of the Centre last week, said its team of 17 experts would deal with challenges in new infrastructure and problems in existing structures such as bridges, buildings and dams.

"Some existing infrastructure in the developed world is ageing and to assess problems we need particular expertise," he said.

"We have to try to design and rehabilitate buildings against fire attack, and rehabilitate and design urban environments against earthquake."

The School of Civil and Environmental Engineering's Professor Francis Tin Loi, also speaking at the launch, said the CIES would concentrate research in key areas.

"The establishment of this centre has been long overdue," he said.

"The School, (Head of School) Professor David Waite, the Faculty of Engineering and the University all support this initiative and we hope that the CIES will bear fruit very soon."