Sam Helwany

Visiting Professor of Civil Engineering, Engineering

Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi


Dr. Helwany has 20 years of teaching and research experience in the geotechnical engineering area. He taught courses in various areas of civil engineering including statics, dynamics, structural analysis, soil mechanics, foundation engineering, advanced foundation engineering, advanced soil mechanics, soil-structure interaction, soil modeling, finite element method in geotechnical engineering, designing with geosynthetics, and even fluid mechanics!  He enjoys teaching as well as research.

Soil-structure interaction is Dr. Helwany’s main area of research and he has performed many funded interdisciplinary research projects related to soil reinforcement, soil dynamics, soil-structure interaction with high-rate loading conditions. He is currently working on near-surface geothermal energy where he is the Principal Investigator of a fundamental research project on the effects of heat cycles, caused by energy piles, on soil strength and on soil-pile interface strength (funded by the National Science Foundation). He is also investigating the use of a new type of energy piles as a storage medium for wind and solar energy associated with microgrids (funded by Research Growth Initiatives-UWM). Both projects are being done in collaboration with his UWM associates from the electrical engineering department and the mechanical engineering. The projects also include collaboration with faculty from EPFL-Switzerland, University of Alaska, and Virginia Tech. He has also conducted research on a new pile foundation system for "Mega" tubular wind towers (funded by We Energies).

Dr. Helwany is the author of Applied Soil Mechanics with Abaqus Applications. The book shows how to apply the finite element method to solve soil mechanics problems. He has used these principles in pragmatic solutions in conjunction with projects run by the Air Force Office for Scientific Research (AFOSR), the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Peer-Reviewed Journal Papers

  • "Seismic Behavior of Geosynthetic-Reinforced Soil Bridge Abutments." Sam Helwany, and Jonathan Wu. Transportation Infrastructure Geotechnology Journal, 2014 (in print).
  • “Design and Application of Controlled Low Strength Materials as a Structural Fill.” Vahid Alizadeh, Sam Helwany, Al. Ghorbanpoor, and Konstantin Sobolev. ASCE Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, 2014 (in print).
  • "A Rapid Construction Technique for Bridge Abutments Using Controlled Low Strength Materials (CLSM)", Alizadeh, V., Helwany, S., Ghorbanpoor, A, and Oliva, M., accepted for publication in ASCE Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, 2012.
  • “Strain Localization and failure load predictions of geosynthetic reinforced soil structures”, Alsaleh, M., Kitsabunnarat, A., and Helwany, S., Interaction and Multiscale Mechanics, An International Journal, Vol.2 No. 3, 2009.
  • “Capturing Strain Localization in Reinforced Soils”, Kitsabunnarat, A., Alsaleh, M., and Helwany, S., Acta Geotechnica, Vol. 3 N.3, pp175-190, 2008 “
  • “Simulating the Behavior of GRS Bridge Abutments.” (Helwany, S., Wu, J.T.H, and Kitsabunarat, A.) Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, American Society of Civil Engineers, Vol. 133, No. 10, pp. 1229-1240, 2007.
  • “Evaluation of Resilient Modulus of Typical Wisconsin Soils.” (Elias, M. B., Titi, H. H., and Helwany, S.) Geotechnical Practical Publication No. 1, American Society of Civil Engineers, Geo-Jordan 2004: Advances in Geotechnical Engineering with Emphasis on Dams, Highway Materials, and Soil Improvement, Irbid, Jordan, 2004.
  • “Laboratory Impulse Tests for Soil-Underground Structure Interaction.” (Helwany, S., and Chowdhury, A.) ASTM Journal of Testing and Evaluation, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 262-273, 2004.
  • “GRS bridge abutments––an effective means to alleviate bridge approach settlement.” (Helwany, S., Wu, J.T.H and Froessl, B.) Geotextiles and Geomembranes, Journal of the International Geotextile Society, Vol. 21, pp. 177-196, 2003.