Soil Mechanics and Foundations Research Laboratory

Director: Prof. Dr. Mohamed El-Kholy


Since its early start in 1933, the Soil Mechanics and Foundations Research Laboratory has been keen in maintaining its leading role in the Civil Engineering research and industry. The first in the Middle East and the third worldwide. The laboratory has its remarkable contribution in all fields of Geotechnical Engineering. The laboratory is located in the north east corner of the Faculty of Engineering Annex, west of the University Street. Its three main halls occupy an area of about 470 m2 for testing equipment, Its facilities include a storage room (51m2), 14 offices for faculty staff and supporting personnel, a library, and a computer hall. The laboratory has just completed the architectural and structural drawings for the extention to the workshop buildings. These modification shall add ultimately, four stories to the existing building making it one of the largest soil mechanics and foundations engineering laboratories worldwide.

Human Resources:

The Soil Mechanics and Foundations Research Laboratory currently has 25 full-time faculty members who cover practically all contemporary aspects of the field. This Faculty is assisted by a group of dedicated supporting staff of laboratory engineers, technicians, secretaries, in addition to drilling rig operators.

Testing, Research, and Technical Capabilities:

Laboratory equipment include manual apparatus as well as sophisticated state-of-the-art testing devices. In the last five years, a total investment of L.E. 3,000,000 was placed in updating and renovating the Laboratory equipment and facilities. Equipment to carry out the following tests are currently available:

Field and In-Situ Tests:

The Laboratory has field and in-situ testing equipment that enable the determination of in-situ soil properties quickly and accurately. These equipment include:

• Mechanical rotary drilling rigs capable of drilling and extracting samples down to depths of 60 m.

• Manual drilling rigs capable of drilling and extracting samples down to depths of 30 m.

• Long-bed trucks and 4-wheel drive vehicle.

• 20-ton Dutch cone set.

• Dilatometer testing set.

• Plate bearing testing sets.

• In-situ vane shear testing set.

• In-situ density testing sets using sand cone method.

• In-situ Speedy Moisture Content apparatus.

• Advanced pile foundation testing system capable of performing Sonic Integrity Testing (SIT), Pile Diving Analysis (PDA), and Dynamic Load Testing (DLT).

• Down hole testing system.

Laboratory Tests:

 The Laboratory has the capabilities to carry out the following tests:

• Determination of physical and chemical soil properties: grain size distribution for coarse and fine grained soils, specific gravity, relative density, Atterberg limits, and chemical analyses.

• Soil permeability tests: constant head, falling head, and capillarity-permeability tests.

• Soil compaction tests: standard and modified Proctor compaction tests, and California Bearing Ratio (CBR) tests.

• Soil compressibility and swelling tests: consolidation, collapse compressibility upon partial loading.

• Shear strength tests: pocket penetrometer, laboratory vane, unconfined compression, direct shear, simple shear, and triaxial tests.

• Dynamic soil tests: the laboratory has recently acquired a cyclic triaxial apparatus, resonant column device, cyclic simple shear device, and 1.5×1.5m shaking table.

Physical Models:

The Laboratory provides equipment and capabilities required to perform model-scale tests to replicate actual soil/foundations conditions. Amongst the model-scale studies carried out are the following:

  • Deep foundation models
  • Shallow foundation models
  • Soil reinforcement
  • Slope stability
  • Sand piles
  • Volumetric soil changes
  • Soil-Lining system.

Technical Library:

The Laboratory has the largest specialized library in the region. The library is continuously kept up-to-date with the latest periodicals, books, and specialized publications.

Supporting Facilities:

The Laboratory has its own supporting facilities comprising  personal computers, laser printers, plotters, and  photocopying machines.

Scope of Activities:

The scope of activities of the Laboratory is widely recognized throughout the civil engineering community in Egypt and abroad. Beyond its principal role as a leading educational and research institute, it provides positive input to the engineering practice by offering its consulting services. The following is an elaboration on both wings of activities:

Educational and Research Activities:

 The Laboratory is principally an educational facility that aims at preparing civil engineers in the Soil Mechanics and Foundations Engineering field. The Laboratory provides undergraduate and graduate courses to students of Cairo University. The Laboratory plays an active role in advancing geotechnical engineering practice in Egypt and in linking it to the latest advances abroad through seminars and conferences. The following academic activities are provided:

• Undergraduate courses for the third and fourth year Civil Engineering students.

• Undergraduate course for third year Architectural Engineering students.

• Graduate courses in geotechnical engineering up to the Ph.D. level.

• Workshops and seminars related to specific geotechnical applications.

• International Geotechnical Engineering Conference.

Consulting Services:

The Laboratory has been actively involved in providing consultancy services to the engineering community in Egypt and the Middle East. It is an approved consulting organization for several private sector companies in addition to many governmental agencies such as:

• The General Educational Buildings Authority.

• The Industrial and Mining Complex.

• Cairo University.

• The Egyptian Antiquities Authority.

• Giza Governorate.

• The Egyptian Enterprises Company (Mokhtar Ibrahim).

• The Arab Contractors (Osman Ahmed Osman and Partners).

• New Communities Authority.

• Urban planning Authority.

For more information, please contact: Tel.: + (202) 3595485  Fax: + (202) 35729124