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Professor Harry Poulos, AM, BE PhD DScEng, FIEAust FASCE FAA

Professor Harry Poulos, AM, BE PhD DScEng, FIEAust FASCE FAA - Poulos, Prof Harry

Professor Harry George Poulos was born in 1940 in Katoomba, Australia, the second son of George Poulos (Tzortzopoulos) and Elene (nee Zantiotis), originally of Karavas, Kythera. His father George had come to Australia from Kythera in the early 1930’s, and Elene and elder son Theodore arrived in Australia some years later, in 1939.

Harry went to school in Katoomba and went on to be dux of the school in 1956. He entered Sydney University in 1957 to do a civil engineering degree, and graduated in 1961 with 1st class honours. Commencing research for a PhD degree at Sydney University in 1961, he was awarded the degree in 1965.

In 1964 he married Maria Langley, 2nd daughter of James and Angela Langley (originally Anastasopoulos), who had moved from Grafton to Sydney in 1962. James was originally from Aroniathika and Angela (nee Varipatis) was from Kapsali.

Professor Harry Poulos, AM, BE PhD DScEng, FIEAust FASCE FAA - Professor Harry Poulos - Action Man
The woman behind the man.
For glowing references to Maria, see transcripts of numerous speeches given at the Harry Poulos Testimonial Dinner: in Photography Diaspora - subsection, Working Life.

Harry and Maria have 4 children, who now are married or engaged, and 6 grandchildren.

Professor Harry Poulos, AM, BE PhD DScEng, FIEAust FASCE FAA - DCP_3117
The man and his family.
Standing (from left): Victoria (Tori) Poulos, James Poulos, Maria Poulos, George Poulos.
Seated (from left): Elena Barnes, Martin Barnes, Harry Poulos, Maria Poulos, Peter Poulos, Alyssa Poulos.

He commenced his professional career as an engineer with the consulting firm of McDonald Wagner and Priddle in 1964, the following year was appointed a Lecturer in the Department of Civil Engineering in January 1965 and rose there to the position of Head of School of Civil and Mining Engineering which he held until 2001. He started as Director of Advanced Technology at Coffey Partners International in Sydney in 1988, was appointed Chairman in 1991 and is presently the Senior Principal there.

Harry retired from Sydney University in 2001, but is an Emeritus Professor there and still retains a close association. He continues to practice as a consulting engineer with the firm of Coffey Geosciences, in their Sydney office, where he is a Senior Principal. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

He is an avid reader and book collector, with special interests in North American sociology, modern history, philosophy, and archaeology. He is also a sports fan, having played cricket for many years. He represented the Blue Mountains in his earlier career, and then played for some years with Bexley Cricket Club and then with the Sydney University Veterans. He also coached soccer when his sons were playing. One of his proudest achievements in this area was to have coached his Under 16 Roselea side to the State Championship in 1987.

Professor Poulos’ research has concentrated on the analysis of the settlement and deformation of foundations and earth-supported structures. Primarily, interest has been in analysing the settlement and rate of settlement of shallow foundations and in developing methods of predicting the load-deformation behaviour of pile foundations. This work has been extended to include the deformation of embankments and earth dams, the evaluation of various methods of improving the performance of foundation on soft clays, and the behaviour of offshore foundations.
One of the foremost objectives in this work has been to present the results of research in a form which is readily usable by practising foundation engineers. This has been achieved by presenting, wherever possible, parametric solutions for the various problems considered or, in cases where the number of variables is too great, developing user-oriented computer programs.
A summary of recent research topics is given below:
(a) theoretical analysis of the effects of cyclic axial and lateral loading on pile foundation,
(b) laboratory model tests to examine the response of piles to cyclic loading and to compare with the theoretical analyses,
(c) correlations between measured and predicted behaviour of full-scale pile foundations,
(d) behaviour of foundations on calcareous soils.
(e) stabilisation of slopes with piles.
(f) design of remedial foundation systems.
(g) influence of construction-induced ground movements on piles.
(h) seismic response of piles.
(i) behaviour of pile groups containing defective piles.
(j) pile-supported pavements and embankments.
(k) foundation correction for buildings undergoing uneven settlement.

Professor Harry Poulos, AM, BE PhD DScEng, FIEAust FASCE FAA - Harry Poulos Family-2002
Action Man. This was taken in July, 2003, in Kuala Lumpur, at the site of piling works for the “Smart Tunnel” (a joint flood control and transport tunnel) that is being constructed there. Harry Poulos is second from the left, in the company of three Malaysian engineers working on the project.

Research Group: Centre for Geotechnical Research


1 BE (Hons I), April 1961, University of Sydney
2 PhD, April 1965, University of Sydney
3 DScEng, April 1976, University of Sydney

1 Australian-American Education Foundation Award (Fulbright Scholarship (Senior)), 1969-70
2 Warren Prize, Institution of Engineers, Australia, (shared) 1972
3 J. James R. Croes Medal, American Society of Civil Engineers (shared) 1973
4 W.H. Warren Medal, Institution of Engineers, Australia, (shared) 1985.
5 E.H. Davis Memorial Lecturer, Australian Geomechanics Society, 1987.
6 John Jaeger Memorial Award, Australian Geomechanics Society, 1988.
7 Fellow, Australian Academy of Science, 1988
8 Fellow, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, 1996
9 Honorary Fellow, Institution of Engineers Australia, 1999
10 29th Rankine Lecturer, Institution of Civil Engineers, London, 1989.
11 Member of the Order of Australia (General Division) (AM), 1993.
12 State-of-the Art Award, American Society of Civil Engineers, 1995.
13 Schiffmann Lecturer, Cornell University, 1996.
14 Ardaman Lecturer, University of Florida, 1997.
15 8th Buchanan Lecturer, Texas A&M University, 2000.
16 Chin Fung Kee Memorial Lecturer, South East Asian Geotechnical Society, 2001.
17 British Geotechnical Association Prize, 2001
18 Geotechnical Research Medal, British Geotechnical Society, 2001
19 5th Sowers Lecturer, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2002
20 9th Casagrande Lecturer, Boston Society of Civil Engineers, 2002
21 2nd Jennings Memorial Lecturer, South African Geotechnical Society, 2002
22 Special Service Award, American Society for Testing Materials, 2003

1 Fellow, American Society of Civil Engineers.
2 Honorary Fellow, Institution of Engineers, Australia.
3 Member, Association of Consulting Engineers, Australia.
4 Member, American Society for Testing Materials.
5 Australian Geomechanics Society (Chairman, 1982-84).
6 Australasian Vice-President, International Society for Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, 1989 - 1993.
7 Member, Australian Earthquake Engineering Society.
8 Member, International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics.
9 Member, International Society for Rock Mechanics.
10 Member, International Association of Engineering Geology.

Harry Poulos as a youth - at the Poulos-Comino wedding

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