Databases and data-centric geotechnics

2023 Harry Poulos Award and Lecture

Chair Professor Kok-Kwang Phoon

The Australian Geomechanics Society (Sydney Chapter) has established the Harry Poulos Award in recognition of the extraordinary impact of Professor Harry Poulos’s contributions to pile foundation analysis and design and his work in understanding soil-structure interaction. His research has enabled a more reliable approach to be adopted for pile design, replacing procedures that previously relied purely on experience and empiricism. He has been a prolific contributor to and supporter of the activities of the international and Australian geotechnical community. The award is presented annually to a person selected by the Sydney Chapter Committee as having made a significant contribution to either practice or research in foundation engineering or soil-structure interaction.

The recipient of the Harry Poulos Award for the Year 2023 is Chair Professor Kok-Kwang Phoon from Singapore University of Technology and Design, who will delve into the rapidly evolving field of data-centric geotechnics in his lecture. Professor Phoon will underscore the dependence of machine learning and AI on data for training and validation, framing data-centric geotechnics around three foundational elements: (1) data centricity, (2) fit for (and transform) practice, and (3) geotechnical context. This lecture aims to showcase the latest research in data-driven site characterization, a key application area within data-centric geotechnics, demonstrating how data can facilitate decision-making in real-world projects. By focusing on these elements, Professor Phoon intends to illuminate the pathways through which data-driven methods, developed with a clear understanding of their geotechnical applications, can significantly impact and transform engineering practices.

About the speaker

Chair Professor Kok-Kwang Phoon Singapore University of Technology and Design

Kok-Kwang Phoon is Cheng Tsang Man Chair Professor and Provost, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).  He obtained his BEng and MEng from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and his PhD from Cornell University. Prior to joining SUTD, Prof Phoon was Senior Vice-Provost (Academic Affairs) at NUS. He is a Professional Engineer in Singapore, an ASEAN Chartered Professional Engineer, and past President of the Geotechnical Society of Singapore. He is also serving as the Deputy Chief Scientific Advisor (DCSA) to the National Research Foundation, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore and a member of the executive committee of the Academy of Engineering Singapore.

Prof Phoon is particularly interested in developing statistical and other data-driven methods to support decision making in geotechnical engineering.  He has edited 4 books and authored 1 book: Model Uncertainties in Foundation Design (CRC Press, 2021). He was bestowed the ASCE Norman Medal twice in 2005 and 2020, the Humboldt Research Award in 2017, the Harry Poulos Award in 2023, and the Alfredo Ang Award in 2024 among many others.  He is the Founding Editor of Georisk and past Chair of GI-RAM and ISSMGE TC304.

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