Tarek Abdoun

Thomas Iovino Chaired Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Abdoun is a Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering and the NEES Technical Director of Rensselaer's NEES facility. He also served as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs in the School of Engineering from 2011 to 2015. He earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from RPI in 1994 and 1997, respectively. Dr. Abdoun's primary research interests are centrifuge modeling, soil-structure interaction, soil remediation, field advanced sensing, and data visualization. He has conducted, and/or advised other researchers on several hundreds of successful high-quality centrifuge model tests conducted at the RPI centrifuge. The centrifuge experiments, supplemented by high-quality reliable measurements, have been used to develop or calibrate new design or retrofit engineering methods. Professor Abdoun led Rensselaer's physical modelling research team that clarified the failure mechanisms of some of the New Orleans levees during Hurricane Katrina, providing critical feedback to the corresponding numerical analyses. He worked closely on this with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the corresponding US National Academies Oversight Committee, and his work was shown on national networks (CNN, NBC, Discovery, ASCE News, Times, etc.) and cited in great detail in an article evaluating the lessons from Hurricane Katrina in the Spring 2007 issue of The Bridge, published by the National Academy of Engineering. Professor Abdoun designed & developed this novel wireless shape-acceleration sensor array, taking advantage of new advances in fiber optic and MEMS sensor technologies. The sensors are capable of measuring ground acceleration and permanent deformation to a depth of about 15 m, at a cost 1/10th or 1/20th of existing inclinometer and borehole technologies. In situ 3D ground deformation and 2D soil acceleration are measured at close intervals. Each sensor array is connected to a wireless sensor node to enable real time monitoring and informed assessment of pending failure. He is a member of several technical committees and the editorial board of technical journals, including ASCE Geo Institute Committee for Earthquake Engineering and Soil Dynamics, ASCE Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Canadian Journal, etc. Dr. Abdoun is the recipient of Rensselaer's 2004, 2006, & 2007 School of Engineering Excellence in Research & Teaching Award, and the 2004 prestigious Casimir Gzowski awarded by the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. He has published over 120 publications and technical reports.


Ph.D., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Geotechnical Engineering M.S., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Geotechnical Engineering B.S., Cairo University Structural Engineering

Research Focus
  • Earthquakes
  • Geotechnical