Stephen Foster

Professor and Head of School
Sch-Civil & Environmental Eng
Contact details:
(+61 2) 9385 5059
(+61 2) 9385 6139

Civil Engineering Building (H20)
Level 4, Room CE404
Kensington Campus

Professor and Head of School in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research interest

Level 1: I research the behaviour of structural systems (buildings and bridges) constructed of reinforced and prestressed concrete.

Level 2: I’m particularly interested in bringing new and advanced materials technologies to the engineering of structures. My interests are in the use of high and ultra-high performance concretes, fibre-reinforced concretes and geopolymer concretes and in use of carbon fibre technologies for strengthening and repair of structures and structural systems.

Level 3: I develop physical-mechanical models for use in advanced computational and numerical tools such as FEM and for their use in the study of behaviour of concrete structures that are subjected to extreme events such as overload, fire, impact and blast loading.

Interest in engineering

Why did you get into engineering?

I actually knew I wanted to be an engineer from a very young age. I had a family history; a father who was an engineer, an uncle who was an engineer, and they were positive role models. I was always interested in mathematics and sciences and the built environment; so civil engineering and the delivery of infrastructure always interested me.

What are your research goals?

At the moment I’m looking at modelling for climate change: the behaviour of structures under extreme load states, whether fire, earthquake, or significant wind (e.g. hurricane loading events) that’s where our challenges lie. I’m also focussed on optimisation and design, using materials as efficiently as possible to develop efficient and safe structures.

What do people not understand about you do?

People often don’t understand the link between the role of science in identifying the problem and engineering in delivery of the solution to the problem.

Advice for prospective civil engineers

If you like achieving results for society; delivery of safe water supply, transport and/or structural systems, of dealing with the big issues of sustainability and the development and advancement of society through the solving of problems, then civil engineering is for you.

Lectures/Courses taught

Reinforced concrete and prestressed concrete structures

Structural mechanics and behaviour

Computations and numerical methods


Number currently in lab: 7 PhD students

Number PhD students graduated: 19

Student Projects:

Steel fibre reinforced concrete structures

Fatigue in concrete and steel fibre concrete

Numerical modelling for climate change, including durability

Low carbon and alkali activated binder concrete in structural systems

Use of steel furnace slag in geopolymer and alkali activated binder concretes

On the application of high strength steel in concrete structures

Looking for students for projects related to:

Use of advanced materials in concrete structures

Modelling of concrete and concrete structures that are subjected to extreme events

Professional Organisations and Consulting positions

Fellow, Institution of Engineers Australia

Honorary Member, Concrete Institute of Australia

Member, Standards Australia Committee BD2 “Concrete Structures”

Chairman, Standards Australia Subcommittee BD2/1 “Strength and Analysis”

Chairman, Standards Australia Subcommittee BD2/6 “Fibre Reinforced Concrete”

Member of Presidium, International Federation for Structural Concrete (fib). (2011 - )

Elected Deputy Chair of the Technical Council, International Federation for Structural Concrete (fib)

Member, American Concrete Institute

Member representing BD2, ISO TC 71 “Concrete, Reinforced Concrete, Prestressed Concrete” President, fib Australia National Member Group (2012 - )

Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Structural Concrete

Co-Editor and Chief, Computers and Concrete


Joint-winner, 2006, Faculty of Engineering prize for teaching excellence for the development of ENGG1000 “Design and Innovation”.

Awarded honorary membership Concrete Institute of Australia, 2015, “In recognition of outstanding contribution to the development and use of concrete in Australia”.

Current Grants

2017-2019: ARC Discovery Grant DP170104618, “Characterisation of shear and tensile fracture of ultra-high performance fibre reinforced concrete” (with F.J. Vecchio), $379,500

2016-2019: ARC Linkage Grant LP160101153, “Development of innovative cement binders with low carbon footprint.” (with T.D. Waite, A. Castel, C. Arns, L. Keyte and R., Lloyd), $450,000.

2015-2018: ARC Linkage Grant LP150100725, “A mix design approach to reduce early-age thermal cracking of concrete” (with A. Castel, A. Akbar Nezhad and R., Lloyd), $299,000.

2015-2017: ARC Linkage Grant LP150101102, “High Strength Concrete Beam-Columns with High-Strength Steel Reinforcement” (with H. Valipour and G. McGregor), $190,000.

2015-2017:  ARC Discovery Grant DP150104107, “Rotation Capacity of Joints in SFRC Moment Resisting Beams and Frames” (with H. Valipour), $266,300.

2014-2017: CRC for Low Carbon Living Project RP1020, "Reducing Barriers for Commercial Adaptation of Construction Materials with Low Embodied-Carbon" (with  J.Sanjayan and A. Castel) $1,119,600.


PhD, The University of New South Wales, 1993.

MEngSc., The University of New South Wales, 1987.

B.E. (Civil) (Hons), New South Wales Institute of Technology, 1983.