Dan recently played the part of storyteller at the Southeastern Transportation Geotechnical Engineering Conference (STGEC) 2010 conference in Charleston, West Virginia when he gave the lunch presentation on the conference’s first day. He took the audience on a trip down the Mississippi River from a foundation engineer’s perspective, talking about several bridges that DBA has had the pleasure to work on, or is still working on, along the river the last few years. Dan began with the I-35W Bridge replacement in Minneapolis, Minnesota and ended at the Huey P. Long Bridge in New Orleans, Louisiana. Stops along the way included the Hastings Bridge (Hastings Minnesota), the new I-70 Bridge (St. Louis, Missouri), and the Audubon Bridge (New Roads/St. Francisville, Louisiana). Dan covered some of the technical issues/problems associated with each project and the solutions applied to complete the foundations (or complete the design). It was a very informative talk presented in a unique way that everyone at the luncheon seemed to enjoy. Dan’s presentation is now available on our Presentations Page.
Immediately after lunch, Robert made a presentation that described some of the pile load tests performed on two of the storm protection projects in New Orleans that DBA was privileged to be involved with through Kiewit. By following Dan, it provided a little continuity to the story as Robert took the group below the Huey P. Long Bridge to the levees and canals downstream of New Orleans. Robert’s presentation can also be found on our Presentations Page.
October 2nd, is the day we (or at least a lot of us geoprofessionals) have all been looking forward to all year – the birthday of Professor Karl Terzaghi, The Father of Modern Day Soil Mechanics, born October 2, 1883.
Since this historic day in geotechnical engineering history falls on a Saturday this year, I offer a cheer for those of us into college football (I mean, really, who isn’t this time of year, at least in the U.S.):
Two bits, four bits, six bits..a dollar
All for Terzaghi, stand up and holler!!!!!
On the more reflective side, each year I try to find some interesting fact or quote to write about. This year, I decided to read the preface of Soil Mechanics in Engineering Practice (Terzaghi and Peck, 1948) for inspiration, and thus will quote from there:
“Unfortunately, the research activities in soil mechanics had one undesirable psychological effect. They diverted the attention of many investigators and teachers from the manifold limitations imposed by nature on the application of mathematics to problems in earthwork engineering. As a consequence, more and more emphasis has been placed on refinements in sampling and testing and on those very few problems that can be solved with accuracy. Yet, accurate solutions can be obtained only if the soil strata are practically homogeneous and continuous in horizontal directions. Furthermore, since the investigations leading to an accurate solution involve highly specialized methods of sampling and testing, they are justified only in exceptional cases. On the overwhelming majority of jobs no more than an approximate forecast is needed, and if such a forecast cannot be made by simple means it cannot be made at all.”
While our technology has allowed us to measure, analyze, test, and compute huge volumes of data, as well as investigate the highly complex nature of soil-structure systems, we sometimes get caught up in the details of precision. We try to be much more precise than the materials we work with truly allow. This is not to say we should totally throw away our technology, forsaking numerical models, design software, or sophisticated in-situ testing and return to the days of slide rules (though I can use one!). There are many times, however, that an “approximate forecast” is just as “accurate” as a calculation computed to a precise number.
So, my friends, raise your glasses this weekend to toast Professor Terzaghi and our profession!
Update (10/1/10): One of my (Robert’s) mentors at my first job out of grad school, Luther Boudra, P.E. at MACTEC, wrote me this morning on the subject of accuracy and precision. I asked him if I could share his comment (and he agreed) since I thought it was very insightful:
Robert, Professors Terzaghi’s comments remind me of something I read recently in a book about precision shooting, particularly at long range. The author, who incidentally is both an engineer and top level shooter, was noting the difference between “precision” and “accuracy”. Precision is exemplified by being able to repeat something to close tolerance, as exemplified in the shooting community by benchrest shooters, who are primarily interested in shooting small groups of typically 5 to 10 shots. Hitting near the center of the target, whatever it is, is of secondary importance. Accuracy, on the other hand, requires the ability to hit what you are aiming at, precisely. In other words to take this to our field of endeavor, it’s possible to be “precisely inaccurate”, which the various software packages available to calculate almost anything enhance the possibility of.
Speaking of slide rules, their greatest attribute is that you have to be able to estimate the answer, rather than just writing down what shows up on the display screen.
Here is the existing bridge that is being replaced (viewing from upstream):
In addition to several relatively large approach spans, the new bridge will include a 545ft long free-standing arch main span with four lanes of traffic and a 12 foot wide common use pedestrian/bike path. The new bridge will allow additional parking and an artistic plaza area south of the river. An anti-icing system will be installed to help achieve the 100-year design life.
On the south side of the Mississippi River, the bridge foundations will consist of spread footings bearing on dolostone bedrock. The remaining bridge foundations will utilize 42in diameter pipe piles. Several Statnamic load tests, both axial and lateral, will be performed by our friends at AFT.
Settlement mitigation is required beneath the North Embankment due to several relatively thick and deep strata of compressible fine-grained soils. The embankment will also be heavily instrumented to evaluate performance of the embankment and mitigation technique.
Preliminary work including subsurface investigation has begun. The subsurface investigation is being performed by Braun Intertec under sub-contract to DBA. Test piles will be installed in early September, 2010 with subsequent load testing soon after.
The awarded design-build contract is for $120M. The estimated project completion date is May 13, 2013.
Although I have known for several weeks that the manual was finished (I work for one of the authors, after all!), I was waiting for the FHWA to post the link for the new manual before posting this…and now it is here! My friend, Randy Post, has an outside review (meaning not connected to one of the authors!) over at his blog Geoprac.net. Not only did he get “the scoop” on me, but he covers some of the highlights of the “what’s new” with the new, fully revised manual. The biggest change is completely re-writing the design sections to follow LRFD as well as to update the methods for calculating soil and rock resistance. As Randy also notes, the manual has been given a Geotechnical Engineering Circular (GEC) designation: GEC 10. Make sure and go read his review, as well as check out the other things on his blog (disclosure by Robert: I am an occasional contributor there).
The manual’s authors are three of the country’s top experts in drilled shaft design and construction: our own Dan A. Brown, Ph.D, P.E. , John P. Turner, Ph.D, P.E. of the University of Wyoming, and Raymond J. Castelli, P.E. of Parsons Brinckerhoff. As with any major FHWA publication such as this, there was significant industry involvement in the review process through various technical committees and individuals from ADSC, DFI, and Geo-Institute. A note from Dan:
The completion of this manual is a great relief and satisfaction. Many thanks to John Turner’s hard work and also for Ray Castelli’s diligent work to review and make us better. Special thanks to PB Project Manager Jeremy Hung and our FHWA sponsor Silas Nichols for their dedicated efforts to help get this done, and to all of you who contributed.
Dan and John have been using the material in the NHI course this fiscal year, having done some pilot courses the previous year. Some NHI courses, including the Drilled Shaft course, can be hosted by non-government groups. There are also some public seats available occasionally at DOT hosted courses. The NHI catalog page for this course is here.
Geoengineer.org is pleased to announce the launch of "Professor Ralph Peck’s Legacy Website". The Website has been developed to celebrate the life and legacy of one of the Heroes of the geotechnical engineering field and honor a distinguished geotechnical engineer for his dedication and contributions to the society as a teacher, author, and engineer. The Website includes a lot of resources such as biographical data, quotes, photos, powerpoints, and even videos of lectures by Professor Peck. The Shamsher Prakash Foundation has generously sponsored this activity. The website has been developed in collaboration with Mrs. Nancy Peck-Young, Prof. Peck’s daughter and was supervised by an international Advisory Committee of distinguished members of our community that had the luxury of knowing Prof. Peck and consists of Prof. Dobry, Prof. Cording, Prof. Prakash and Dr. Lacasse. The content of the website is divided in three parts: "About his life", "Publications" and "Resources". We hope that this resource will be a source of inspiration for the future generations of geotechnical engineers. We also encourage you to provide us with any additional resources/content and we will be glad to include it in the website’s content.
Such a website is a fitting tribute to such an icon in the geotechnical engineering and construction industry. Make sure and check it out. I have added a link on our sidebar in the Geotechnical Resources section.
Our own Tim Siegel, P.E., D.GE. will be part of the seminar Foundation Design in Karst Terrain in two locations: Johnson City, TN (also known as the Tri-Cities) on June 16th, and in Chattanooga on August 27th. Tim will be instructing on evaluating karst terrain and designing foundations in such terrain. If you are interested in the seminar, information can be found here.
We also want to say Congratulations! to Tim for receiving the specialty certification Diplomate, Geotechnical Engineering (D.GE) from The Academy of Geo-Professionals (AGP). Tim received the designation at the recent Geo-Institute conference Geo-Florida 2010 at West Palm Beach. The excerpt below comes form the AGP web site. Tim is on the second row, far left.
Latest Class of D.GEs Inducted in West Palm Beach, FL
(Back Row, Left to Right: Timothy Siegel, Melvin Esrig, John Wolosick, Thomas Zimmie, Kenneth Stokoe, II, Roberto Sanchez, Marco Boscardin, Allen Cadden, Thomas Witherspoon, Daniel Pradel, Edward Ulrich, Jr., Robert Lukas; Front Row, Left to Right: Peter Nicholson, Derek Cornforth, Don Dotson, Larry Jedele, Delon Hampton, Joram Amir, Anand Puppala, Larry Madrid, Ivan Contreras, Craig Benson, Tuncer Edil)
The Academy of Geo-Professional (AGP), held its latest induction ceremony on February 21st in West Palm Beach, Florida at the GeoFlorida 2010. If you have at least 8 years (post-licensure) in the geotechnical field, a P.E., and a Masters or equivalent, then you may qualify to become a Diplomate, Geotechnical Engineering (D.GE). Above is a picture of the Diplomates who were present to receive their certification plaque and pin.
I have updated our calendar for 2010 to include many events in the geotechnical and foundation engineering world that may be of interest, plus known speaking/teaching appearances by Dan. I’ll put in a plug for the events calendars and listings for ADSC, DFI, Geo-Institute, and PDCA. I get most of my information from them.
First, Tony Marinucci, P.E. joins the staff at ADSC. Here is the release from ADSC highlighting Tony’s career and his new position.
Marinucci Joins ADSC Staff
We are pleased to report that Antonio Marinucci, P.E., MSCE, MBA, is joining the ADSC headquarters staff in a full-time capacity as he completes his Ph.D. studies in geotechnical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. A mesothelioma attorney in his previous life, Tony comes to this new post with many years of experience working for geo-construction specialty contractors, a major general contractor, and geotechnical engineering firms in a variety of capacities including project management and deep foundation and anchored earth retention design.
His credits include participating in many nursing home lawyers and construction research projects. Somehow, while working full and part-time in the industry, he managed to complete graduate degrees in engineering and business. He is the current Secretary of the Geo-Institute’s Deep Foundations Committee, as well as holding the same position for the G-I’s Soil Improvement Committee. He has been an active volunteer and committee member for many ADSC, ASCE, and DFI initiatives. Among his many volunteer service achievements was serving as the President of the ASCE Student Chapter while attending the University of Rhode Island. In addition to all of his volunteer service, he has authored or co-authored twelve published technical papers, and several feature articles that have appeared in Foundation Drilling magazine. One of his most interesting and challenging geo-construction experiences was working as a staff engineer for Modern Continental Construction in a variety of capacities on Boston’s “Big Dig” project. A member of four leading National Honor Societies, he was also the recipient of an ADSC Civil Engineering Graduate Study Scholarship.
You can see by this abbreviated description of Tony’s stellar career that he will be an excellent addition to the ADSC’s professional staff. His responsibilities will include serving as an in-house technical resource, coordinating ADSC’s eight regional chapters, assisting in the associations technical education and field training programs, working with the association’s 18 technical and organizational committees and task forces, overseeing the association’s membership recruitment and retention programs, and assisting ADSC CEO Mike Moore in a number of related endeavors.
Second, the PDCA is soliciting nominees for the 2010 Project of the Year award. There are several categories based on project location and size. Projects must have been completed in 2009. Deadline for entries is February 26, 2010.
The PDCA would like to inform you about the 2010 “Project of the Year” Award competition.
The PDCA is dedicated to acknowledging the hard work, ingenuity and commitment that goes into each project where driven pile are used i a deep foundation or earth retention system, or utilized to solve foundation problems. This PDCA tradition recognizes excellence in driven pile projects completed by PDCA members in good standing.
Through the “Project of the Year” award, the PDCA has the distinguished opportunity to continue its long-standing and consistent commitment t recognize those PDCA members who demonstrate excellence in the process of providing solutions, services and products to the needs of the deep foundation and earth retention environment.
Project entries must feature projects completed in 2009. Projects entries will be awarded in two entry categories and three dollar volume categories. The two entry categories are distinguished by either “Land-based” or “Marine-based” projects. The dollar volume categories are Less than $500,000.00, $500,000.00 – $2 Million, and Greater than $2 Million. Price ranges are based solely on the dollar volume of the piling contract associated with the project.
The PDCA is asking each of its members to consider submitting a project worthy of this prestigious PDCA award. Entry Forms will be made available on the PDCA website by Monday, December 7, 2009.
The “2010 Project of the Year” entry deadline is Friday, February 26, 2010. Late entries will not be considered.
Winning entries will be announced during the 2010 PDCA Annual International Conference and Expo, Coeur d’Alene Golf and Spa Resort, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho during the PDCA Business Luncheon on Saturday, May 8, 2010. PDCA will NOT reveal the winning entries prior to the luncheon.
Winning entries will also be featured in the following editions of Pile Driver magazine and on the PDCA website.
PDCA looks forward to receiving your entry – GOOD LUCK!
Third, registration is open for the Geo-InstituteGeoFlorida 2010 conference in West Palm Beach, Florida. There will be short courses, a technical program, student competitions, exhibits, honoring our heroes, and all the usual events at the annual G-I meeting. Click on the logo to go to the conference website.
Lastly, abstracts are now being accepted for consideration of the 2011 Geo-Institute meeting Geo-Frontiers 2011 in Dallas, Texas. Abstracts are due March 8, 2010. Click the logo to get to the conference website for submission information.
Yes, my geotechnical friends, another year has passed and it is again that special date in geotechnical engineering history: Karl Terzaghi’s Birthday!
Each year we pause to recognize the birth of the Father of Modern Soil Mechanics. For those of you that this is the first year you have received this message, let me welcome you to my annual tribute to Professor Terzaghi and the geotechnical engineering profession. (If you do not want this annual greeting, please let me know and I will drop you from my list!).
For this year’s reflection, I thought I would share a story from Professor Terzaghi’s biography: “Karl Terzaghi – The Engineer as Artist” by Richard E. Goodman (quotes in italics). Terzaghi was in the U.S. in the fall of 1938 working on securing an appointment at Harvard. He received a lot of invitations to speak once word spread he was in the U.S. He organized them into something like a tour. “But he did not defer the invitation from Dean Grinter, of the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago, because Karl knew that construction of new subway tunnels through soft clay was about to start under the heart of Chicago. At Armour Institute, he wisely chose to speak about the dangers of tunneling in soft clay beneath cities.” The lecture was on December 1, 1938. Representatives of the property owners along the subway right-of-way as well as the chief engineer of the subway department were in attendance. Both parties sought out Terzaghi as consultant and made offers. He eventually chose the offer to work for the city after requiring several conditions that including hiring Professor Ralph Peck, “beginning a job that propelled the young field of soils engineering.” The rest, as they say, is history. This story illustrates how the right words (a lecture, a presentation, etc.) at the right time in front of the right audience can pay huge dividends, both professionally and financially.
Remember that every day is a great day to be in the field of geotechnical engineering and construction! Have a great Karl Terzaghi’s Birthday!
Specialists in Deep Foundation Design, Construction, and Testing and Slope Stability Problems