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Fahim H. Sadek ()

Research Structural Engineer

Dr. Sadek is a Research Structural Engineer and the former Leader of the Structures Group at the Engineering Laboratory (EL) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  He received his Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics from Southern Methodist University in 1996 and has worked at NIST since then.

Dr. Sadek has extensive experience in finite element modeling and computer simulation of nonlinear, static and dynamic structural response, particularly for structures subjected to seismic, wind, impact, fire, and other extreme loads.  He also has experience in experimental work, having performed structural testing on steel and reinforced concrete structures undergoing progressive collapse.  His research specialties include structural dynamics and earthquake engineering, wind engineering and structural reliability, mitigation of progressive structural collapse, fire performance of structures, and degradation and aging of infrastructure.

Dr. Sadek has worked extensively in the field of structural control for mitigation of earthquake response, and has developed control algorithms for semi-active and hybrid control of structures, as well as methods for the seismic analysis and design of structures with passive energy dissipation devices.  His contributions to wind engineering research include: database-assisted, reliability-based design procedures (an innovative approach for the design of wind-sensitive structures utilizing large aerodynamic data sets generated in the wind tunnel), reliability analyses of low and high-rise structures, and finite elements ultimate capacity estimates of structural systems and components.  Dr. Sadek led the project “Baseline Structural Performance and Aircraft Impact Damage Analysis” as part of the NIST investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) buildings.  The project involved development and analysis of sophisticated finite element models of the towers to establish their baseline performance under design loading conditions and to estimate probable damage to the towers due to aircraft impact.  Following the WTC investigation, Dr. Sadek led projects on mitigation of progressive collapse of structural systems and fire performance of structures.  The projects focused on the development of experimentally validated computational tools for assessment of structural robustness and structural response to thermally-induced loads.  More recently, his research shifted to evaluation of structures and infrastructure undergoing degradation due to aging and chemical attacks.  Dr. Sadek developed advanced computational models to assess the effects of alkali-silica reaction (ASR) on reinforced concrete structures and validated these models against experiments he designed.

As the former leader of the Structures Group at NIST (2008-2016), Dr. Sadek provided technical leadership for a research team of more than 12 structural engineers.  He managed research programs on Structural Performance under Multi-hazards and Fire Risk Reduction in Buildings.  Dr. Sadek led a portfolio of research projects including Mitigation of Progressive Collapse, Fire Performance of Structures, Wind Engineering and Coastal Inundation, and Alkali-Silica Reaction Effects on Concrete Structures.  Dr. Sadek started transitioning the Structures Group from a purely analytical focus to a more balanced experimental/analytical group.  As part of his duties, he secured external funding from other federal agencies including the intelligence community, Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Dr. Sadek is the co-author of “Risk Considerations in Tall Building Design” in the Tall Buildings Reference Book (D. Parker and A. Wood, ed., Council on Tall Buildings, Routledge Publishers, 2013, pp. 181-193) and “Ground Motion and Response Spectra” in the Seismic Design Handbook (F. Naeim, ed., Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001, pp. 47-124).  He is the author and co-author of more than 100 technical publications, with an h-index of 29.  Dr. Sadek has also been invited to give numerous keynote speeches and presentations around the world.  Because he either led or participated in numerous high-profile disaster and failure studies, Dr. Sadek was interviewed and featured in a number of news articles including the New York Times (January 6, 2004), the Dallas Morning News (October 7, 2009), and Popular Mechanics (November 2010).

Dr. Sadek is a member of the Executive Committee (ExCom) for the Codes and Standards Activities Division (CSAD) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and a member of the American Institute of Steel Construction specification Committee, where he serves as a voting member on the main committee and on Task Committee 8 on fire response of steel structures.  He is also a member of the ASCE Standard Committee on Disproportionate Collapse Mitigation of Building Structures.  He is the recipient of the Department of Commerce’s Gold Medal Award in 2005 for his role in conducting the NIST federal building and fire safety investigation of the World Trade Center disaster, the Department of Commerce’s Silver Medal Award in 2007 for his role in conducting the NIST reconnaissance following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the Department of Commerce’s Bronze Medal Award in 2017 for his role in leading and conducting research on mitigation of progressive structural collapse.  Dr. Sadek also received the Department of Commerce’s Special Act Award for his contributions to the investigation of the World Trade Center Building 7 collapse in 2008 and the Building and Fire Research Laboratory Communication Award in 2002.  In 2012, he received the ASCE’s Moisseiff Award, and in 2018, he received the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) George D. Nasser Award.  Dr. Sadek is a registered professional engineer in the state of Maryland and a Fellow of the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) of ASCE.


Created October 9, 2019, Updated December 8, 2022