Have You Met... Simaan AbouRizk?

Meet Dr. Simaan AbouRizk, incoming dean of engineering.


On July 1, 2021, Dr. Simaan AbouRizk will begin his term leading the Faculty of Engineering as dean. 

Simaan is a distinguished scholar and has been the chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the School of Petroleum Engineering for the past three years, and a professor for 30 years. He holds a PhD in Construction Engineering and Management from Purdue University, a Master of Science in Construction Engineering and Management, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honors), also from Georgia Institute of Technology. 

Simaan is world-renowned as an academic leader in construction management and his work has been recognized with a number of prestigious awards including a Steacie Fellowship, four terms as IRC, three terms as a Tier 1 CRC, and an induction as a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society of Canada.

What these awards cannot demonstrate is the esteem in which Simaan is held by the construction industry for his wisdom, experience and ability to solve complex problems. He is often called upon for his advice to support large construction projects. 

Tell us about the focus of your research program. 

The overall goal of my research is to develop a better framework for the planning and control of construction projects through advancements in simulation. I develop systems and methods for modeling and simulating construction operations. Simphony, the software I developed is widely used in the construction academic community and by many in industry. 

What is the biggest strength/opportunity that you see for the faculty in the next year? 

The faculty is its people. We have some of the best faculty, staff and students anywhere and we will use this challenging time to build on our successes, reinvent and become even better than we are today!

What is your first memory at the U of A? 

I won’t forget the day of my interview, when I was greeted by the late Bill Weir at the top of the stairs of the third floor of what used to be the CEB building and subsequently getting to know the faculty and leaders in industry. 

What’s something that people might be surprised to learn about you?

I am a first in many things: First Civil Engineer to win a NSERC EWR Steacie Fellowship, first construction academic to win an IRC, first non American to be inducted to the National Academy of Construction in the USA, and the first construction engineering academic to be inducted into the Royal Society of Canada! And probably the first person to decline an invitation to a Stanley Cup playoff game! 

What’s your favourite hobby or pastime? 

Spending time with my family - with my wife, our three daughters and their families including our two granddaughters. I also enjoy traveling and look forward to doing that again - hopefully soon.

Where is your favourite place on campus? 

That is a tie between the old CEB building - that was where I built my successful career (modest labs, coffee room discussions with senior colleagues and close to SUB) and the Engineering Quad - the centre of my world today and where all good things happen! 

What’s something your coworkers don’t know about you?

I have started three companies: (1) CADR patented and developed a mobile aggregate crusher (no longer exists), (2) SMA Consulting, and (3) DRAXware Inc. 

You can invite anyone — alive or dead, real or fictional — to dinner. Who would it be?

My Dad. 

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Do what you believe in. It worked!