Tonatiuh Rodriguez-Nikl

College of Engeering, Computer Science, and Technology
Department of Civil Engineering
Office Location: ET A-217
Phone: (323) 343-4456 Email:


I am Associate Professor of Civil Engineering in the area of Structural Engineering. My areas of expertise are earthquake engineering,
structural testing, blast mitigation, fiber reinforced polymers, and green building materials and systems. Broader areas of interest are systems thinking, complexity, contending with uncertainty, and theoretical paradigms for sustainability and resilience. At present, I have three major research initiatives.

  1. Our college is installing a shake table for seismic testing using funds won by the NSF. Installation of this equipment is ongoing. The instrument is expected to be operational in summer 2018, at which time we will conduct commissioning tests and begin research operations. The shake table will be available for use by researchers and industry.
  2. Together with Colorado School of Mines and Lehigh University, Cal State LA is part of a University Transportation Center for Underground Transportation Infrastructure (UTC-UTI). I am the Cal State LA coordinator for this center and PI/Co-PI on two projects: resilience and sustainability of UTI and fiber-reinforced, self-consolidated concrete for UTI applications. The other Cal State LA UTC-UTI projects are Big Data Analytics for UTI and Autonomous Crack Detection in Tunnels.
  3. I am championing a campus effort to launch the Institute for Urban Sustainability to support transdisciplinary, community-inspired research in sustainability. We have formed a campus faculty network and an external advisory board and are working with the University to gain official status as a presidential institute.

This web page provides a brief overview of my research and teaching interests. Please visit for more, including publications and CV. (I'm transitioning to a much nicer page that doesn't look like it was built in the 1990s, but this must do for now!)

Other links: LinkedIn - Google Scholar - - Research Gate

Schedule for Spring 2018

HNRS 1300 - Reading LA MW 12:15-1:30 KH B2013
CE 5650 - Structural Dynamics T/Th 6:00-7:15 KH B1016
Office Hours (drop in) W 2-3; Th 4:45-5:45 ET A217


  • Additional office hours may be scheduled by email.


I was born in Mexico as a dual US/Mexico national. I started my schooling there and moved to the United States at age eleven, not long after experiencing the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. Perhaps that was my first day as a structural engineer. I studied Civil Engineering at U.C. Berkeley (B.S. and M.S.). I then worked at Wiss, Janney, Elstner in Emeryville evaluating buildings and designing retrofits. I subsequently completed my Ph.D. and post-doctoral training at the University of California, San Diego, in the Department of Structural Engineering, where I focused on blast loading and advanced composites. After the Ph.D. became interested in understanding and reducing the environmental impacts of construction. In 2008 I joined the faculty of Oregon State University. In 2011 I started at Cal State LA and in 2016 I was awarded early tenure and promotion to Associate Professor.


My technical focus is in laboratory-based experimental testing of structural components and systems under seismic loading (with interest as well in blast loading). My focus is on the seismic resistance of green construction technologies, a topic that I have explored both experimentally and computationally. On the Cal State LA campus we are installing a shake table for seismic testing with funding from the National Science Foundation. We have also received funding recently for a University Transportation Center in Underground Transportation Infrastructure (UTC-UTI) in conjuction with Colorado School of Mines and Lehigh University.

My interdisciplinary interests revolve around sustainability and disaster resilience. What does it mean to be sustainable? What is the structural engineer's role in sustainability? How are sustainability and disaster resilience related? What is the role of uncertainty, models, systems, and complexity in sustainability and resilience? How do we make effective decisions in the face of the extreme uncertainty faced with long-term problems?

Teaching and Advising

I teach a range of classes in structural mechanics: statics, strength of materials, structural mechanics (I and II), and structural dynamics. Other classes taught at Cal State LA or elsewhere include programming, design of steel structures, and blast loading of structures. As with research, my teaching interests extend beyond technical topics. I teach a freshman-level seminar class for the Reading LA sequence in the Honor's College. This class, which covers disasters and resilience in Los Angeles, is taught from a social science perspective. I have also been closely involved in the creation of the new engineering ethics course, which was co-developed with the Philosophy department.

I advise the EERI student group, which competes annually in the Seismic Design competition.

Professional Activities

From 2009-2015 I completed a six year term on the Sustainability Committee of the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI). Within that committee I founded and chaired the Disaster Resilience Working Group. I am also active with the SEI Engineering Philosophy committee and have contributed to the work of the Sustainability Committee of the American Concrete Institute. I am a regular reviewer for the Journal of Structural Engineering and a member of the International Editorial Board of Civil Engineering and Environmental Systems.

I am a registered Civil Engineer in California and have completed Safety Assessment Program (SAP) training for post-earthquake evaluation of buildings. I have also completed Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.