Department of Engineering / Profiles / Dr Mohammed Elshafie

Department of Engineering

Dr Mohammed Elshafie


Mohammed Elshafie

Laing O'Rourke Senior University Lecturer in Construction Engineering

Academic Division: Civil Engineering

Research group: Construction Engineering

Telephone: +44 1223 3 32780



Research interests

Dr Elshafie’s research aims to provide vital information feedback to close the loop between design, construction and operation of Civil Engineering infrastructure assets. Currently, this information feedback loop does not exist in the construction industry unlike almost any other engineering sector. Hence, construction is perceived to be wasteful, inefficient and highly risky. Dr Elshafie's current research involves:

  • The application of novel instrumentation techniques in new and existing Civil Engineering infrastructure assets, in order to understand their performance - both during and after construction with a particular emphasis on the use of novel optical fibre strain sensing technology. The distributed nature of these sensors provides numerous advantages over the conventional sensing techniques currently used in practice hence, unlocking new information about the assets on which they are deployed.
  • The use of the geotechnical centrifuge to simulate complex underground construction processes that involve underground Civil Engineering infrastructure assets (tunnels, deep excavations, etc.). Performing carefully designed experiments on scaled down models for these assets at tightly controlled laboratory conditions provides rare opportunities to gain new insights into their complex behaviour in the short and long terms.  

Dr Elshafie’s research focuses on acquiring and understanding in-depth new information about Civil Engineering infrastructure; using novel sensing techniques on real world assets combined with small-scale centrifuge modeling technology, provides the missing feedback loop between design, construction and operation. This is vital for the owners of the assets in informing their asset management decisions and for the designers in informing future designs. Providing the feedback loop has the potential of minimizing waste and risk and maximizing efficiency at a sector in desperate need for such measures.

Strategic themes

Energy, transport and urban infrastructure

Involved in a number of research projects to understand the performance of urban infrastructure assets, including tunnels and deep excavations for mass transit systems and piled foundation systems for buildings.

Manufacturing, design and materials

Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Crossrail Ltd.

Completed and existing collaborative research projects with a number of industrial partners, including Laing O’Rourke, Costain, Cementation Skanska, Bam Nuttall, Keltbray, Datum, Geosense, Hochtief, Bauer, Arup, Halcrow, Wentworth House Partnership, Thames Water and CERN.

Teaching activity

  • Graduate Teaching: Lecturing at the Construction Engineering Master’s Programme in Centrifuge Modelling and Advanced Fibre Optic Sensing.
  • Undergraduate teaching, including Structural Materials and Design, Structural Design Course and construction Engineering modules.

Other positions

  • Co-Investigator at the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC)
  • Associate Editor at the ASCE Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering (JCCE)


Dr Mohammed Elshafie is a University Lecturer at the Laing O’Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology at the University of Cambridge. The Centre was created as a result of a partnership between the Department of Engineering and Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge and Laing O'Rourke, the UK's largest privately-owned construction company. The goal of the Centre is to precipitate innovation and provide a new vision for the shape of tomorrow's construction industry. Prior to his appointment at the Laing O’Rourke Centre, Dr Elshafie had graduated from the Civil Engineering Department at Khartoum University in Sudan where he finished top of his class and won a number of prizes, including the Engineering Department Award for best overall academic performance. He was then awarded an Overseas Research Studentship (ORS) and a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to study for a PhD at Cambridge. During his PhD studies he had been extensively involved in centrifuge testing using the 8m-beam centrifuge at Cambridge with particular interest in modelling of deep excavations and the development of advanced instrumentation techniques. His doctoral research work, investigating the effect of excavation-induced displacements on existing building has earned him the Philip Turner Prize at the end of his PhD study. He then joined the Engineering Department at Cambridge as a Research Associate, elected as a Research Fellow at Robinson College Cambridge and then worked as a consultant in Geotechnical Consulting Group Ltd. in London giving technical advice in a wide range of geotechnical engineering problems. Dr Elshafie's current research group leads the application of novel instrumentation techniques in new and existing civil engineering infrastructure, in order to understand its performance, with a particular emphasis on the use of novel optical fibre strain sensing technology. The group has been at the forefront of applying optical fibre sensing technology on a wide range of civil engineering structures including bridges and tunnels in more than 40 field deployments. As a result, the group has developed very strong industrial collaborations and has gained extensive expertise on the deployment, measurement and interpretation of various instrumentation techniques over the last eight years.