Y. Frank Chen, Ph.D., P.E.

Professor of Civil Engineering, School of Science, Engineering, and Technology
Civil Engineering Graduate Faculty
Engineering Science Graduate Faculty
Engineering Management Graduate Faculty
Office Phone: +1 717 948 6146
Office Location: Olmsted Building, W236
Mailing Address:

Bottom Fields


(Updated: April 2017)

Dr. Chen is currently Tenured Professor of The Pennsylvania State University. He obtained his B.S.C.E. degree from Cheng Kung University (Taiwan, 1979), and M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from The University of Minnesota (1985 & 1988 respectively), all in civil engineering. His primary research area is structures. Dr. Chen specializes in dynamic soil-structure interaction, computational methods, limit states design, seismic design and retrofitting, condition-based structural assessment, resistant design for dynamic loads, metal structures, bridge engineering, foundation engineering, geo-environmental engineering, and energy efficient material. He has been the PI or Co-PI for a number of research projects funded by various organizations domestically and internationally. The total research expenditure has surpassed $4.3 million USD covering more than 30 completed research projects. His publication record includes 135 refereed papers (83 SCI + 52 EI), 32 plus research reports, 1 book and 3 book chapters, and more than 55 graduate theses addressing various structural and geotechnical engineering issues. Dr. Chen’s research interests also include the following areas: full/large scale testing, innovative construction materials, smart structural systems, protective technology and structures, sustainable engineering, and any cutting-edge technology. He also has one patent.

Dr. Chen received a number of awards including Research Award from The Pennsylvania State University, Research Fellow from National Sciences Council/Taiwan (multiple times), Daniel P. Jenny Research Award from Prestressed Concrete Institute (twice), Excellence in Transportation Design/Construction Awards from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (three times), Outstanding Scholar Award from Central University (Taiwan), Teaching Fellow from The Ministry of Education/Taiwan, Research Fellow from Japan Society for Promotion of Science (twice), Outstanding Alumni Award from Cheng Kung University (Taiwan), Distinguished International Expert under Shanxi Hundred Talents Program (China), Guest Professor from Central South University, Chang’an University, and Chongqing University (all in China), Distinguished Professor from North University of China and Guizhou Institute of Technology (both in China), and Academic Peer from Kyushu University (Japan).

Dr Chen’s teaching experience includes: Undergraduate courses- soil lab., structural analysis, Newtonian mechanics, strength of materials, structural steel design, and foundations; Graduate courses- design of metal structures, advanced foundation design, structural design for dynamic loads, earthquake resistant design and retrofitting of highway bridges (developed), bridge design by LRFD method I & II (developed), and finite element analysis. He is also capable of teaching the following courses: mathematical methods in engineering, numerical analysis, vibrations, plastic design, soil dynamics, elasticity theory, structural reliability, and deep foundations. He has a number of graduate students completing the degree requirements under his direct supervision.

Dr. Chen has been actively involved with various technical committees/organizations, including ASCE Technical Council on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering, ASCE Steel Bridge Committee, ACI Committee 442 (Response of Concrete Buildings to Lateral Forces), ACI Committee 341 (Earthquake Resistant Design of Reinforced Concrete Bridges), Association for Bridge Design & Construction, and Advisory Board for the Center for Bridge Engineering Research at Central University (Taiwan). He is also a regular reviewer for several quality engineering journals and an editor for Materials Testing (Germany) and Journal of Structural Integrity & Maintenance (UK). He has been frequently invited to give lectures, professional seminars, training courses, short courses, and workshops domestically and internationally. Dr. Chen has been actively doing collaborative research internationally and has hosted a number of international visiting scholars.

Dr. Chen is a registered professional engineer, a certified bridge inspector, and an active technical consultant to various organizations in the USA and abroad on various projects. He has maintained close connections with the industry and engineering community for more than 25 years. He has also been asked to serve as an expert witness in several occasions.

Dr. Chen’s administrative experience includes: Director for Research Institute of Modern Bridge & Tunnel Technologies at Taiyuan University of Technology (China, summer only)); Coordinator for the Graduate Programs for Engineering & Sciences at Penn State Harrisburg, Assistant Director for the Center for Bridge Engineering Research at Central University (Taiwan, during sabbatical leave), and Associate Chair for the Civil Engineering Program at Penn State Harrisburg. He has served on a variety of campus committees at various levels of capacity with several of them acting as the chair.


Conventional and Computer Aided Structural Analysis & Design; Resistant Design for Dynamic Loads (wind, earthquake, impact & blast); Numerical Analysis and Computational Methods; Condition-Based Structural Assessment; Limit States Design (buildings & bridges); Dynamic Soil-Structure Interaction (lifelines, buildings &  infrastructures); Vibrations; Foundation Engineering; Innovative Structural Materials & Systems; Geo-environmental Engineering; Evaluation, Rehabilitation, Retrofitting and Hazard Mitigation for Civil Infrastructures.


  • Outstanding Research Award, Penn State Harrisburg, USA, 1993
  • Research Fellow, National Sciences Council, Taiwan, Summer 1993
  • Teaching Fellow, The Ministry of Education, Taiwan, Summer 1994
  • Daniel Jenny Research Award, Prestressed Concrete Institute, Chicago, USA, 1993 & 1995
  • Excellence in Transportation Design/Construction Award, PennDOT, USA, 1994, 1996 & 2004
  • Outstanding Scholar, Dept. of Civil Eng., Central University, Taiwan, 1997
  • Visiting Professor, National Sciences Council, Taiwan, Sep. 2004-Jan. 2005
  • Panelist, National Science Foundation, USA, 2007
  • Outstanding Alumni Award, Cheng Kung University, Taiwan, 2010
  • Distinguished Professor, Taiyuan University of Science & Technology, China, 2013
  • Distinguished International Expert, Shanxi Hundred Talents Program, China, 2013
  • Guest Professor, Central South University, China, 2013
  • Guest Professor, Chang’an University, China, 2014
  • Yinzhi Research Program, Central South University, China, 2014 & 2016
  • Distinguished Professor, North University of China, 2014
  • Academic Peer, Kyushu University, Japan, Jan. 2015
  • Distinguished Professor, Guizhou Institute of Technology, China, 2015
  • Guest Professor, Chongqing University, China, 2015
  • Renown Scholar, Central South University, 2016
  • Yinzhi Research Program, The Ministry of Education, China, 2015
  • Research Fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Japan, 2006 & 2016
Research Interests
Seismic Area: Spatially Varying Ground Motion; Seismic Induced Earth Pressure; Isolation Devices & Methods
Innovative Bridge Technologies & Systems
Integrated Design and Construction
Software Development
Structural Stability and Reliability
High Performance Materials (Steel & Concrete)
Performance under Extreme Loading or Environmental Conditions
Smart Structures
Testing: Nondestructive; Wind Tunnel; Full/Large Scale.
Protective Technology and Structures
Composite Structures
Geo-environmental Engineering
Sustainable/Green engineering
Energy efficient materials
Cutting Edge Technology