Category Archives: Miscellaneous

New Geotechnical Special Publication honoring Dr. John Schmertmann


The American Society of Civil Engineers has just published Geotechnical Special Publication (GSP) No. 180: From Research to Practice in Geotechnical Engineering. This book includes 16 papers from the career of Dr. Schmertmann and 28 invited papers on various topics.

From Research to Practice in Geotechnical Engineering, GSP 180, honors Dr. John H. Schmertmann, Professor Emeritus and P.E., for his contributions to civil engineering. It begins with his biography, a list of his students and writings, followed by reprints of his selection of 16 representative papers from his career. Twenty-eight new, mostly invited papers follow on a great variety of subjects, including: the installation and testing of piles; pile-structure interaction; liquefaction and its mitigation; case histories of settlement and landslide mitigation and capping a superfund landfill; and computer modeling since computers can do everything now a days, also you can play computer games as Overwatch and learn from online sites how to use the different heroes in Overwatch. The authors include six members of the National Academy of Engineering. This GSP concludes with a paper by one of these, Dr. Schmertmann, which itself concludes with a suggestion for improving your technical writing. Everyone working in the geotechnical profession will find something interesting and useful herein.

The book is available from the ASCE Bookstore (click the image above).

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International Foundation Congress and Equipment Expo ’09

Mark you calendars now for a really big geotechnical engineering and foundation construction “mega-event” next year – The International Foundation Congress & Equipment Expo ’09. The Geo-Institute of ASCE, the ADSC, and the PDCA are the lead organizations for the event. Many other organizations are also Cooperating Organizations.

The International Foundations Congress and Equipment Expo ’09 (IFCEE09) will provide a spectacular and comprehensive Congress. It combines the International Association of Foundation Drilling (ADSC), the Geo-Institute of ASCE, and the Pile Driving Contractors Association (PDCA) 2009 annual meetings, and will bring together varied USA and worldwide industry organizations.

As part of the technical program, engineers, foundation contractors, equipment manufacturers, suppliers of tools and services, and researchers will discuss the latest technological advances in the foundation and earth retention industry. The extensive outdoor large equipment exposition and indoor displays provide attendees an opportunity to examine the tools of foundation construction, and are an additional incentive for constructors and engineers to attend this mega-event. This expanded program builds on the highly successful 2004 Geo-Support conference and equipment exposition held in Orlando, FL.

The conference will be at the Buena Vista Palace Resort and Spa adjacent to Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World, Florida. In addition to a full program of keynote speakers, technical paperas, case histories, and panel discussions, the largest equipment exposition devoted to the foundation industry will also be held.

Information on the Call for Papers is here. Abstracts are due April 30, 2008.

Information on exhibits and sponsorships is here.

We will have a link to the conference website at the top of our right side bar until the conference date.

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In Memoriam: Dr. Ralph B. Peck (1912-2008)


A great man and geotechnical engineer has passed. Dr. Ralph Peck died February 18th. His obituary:

Ralph B. Peck, Professor Emeritus of Foundation Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign died of congestive heart failure on February 18, 2008, at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was born in Winnipeg, Canada, to his American parents, Orwin K and Ethel Huyck Peck on June 23, 1912.

Ralph Peck earned a Civil Engineering Degree in 1934 and Doctor of Civil Engineering Degree in 1937, both from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. In 1938-39 he attended the Soil Mechanics course at Harvard University and was a laboratory assistant to Arthur Casagrande. From 1939 to 1942 Peck was an assistant subway engineer for the City of Chicago, representing Karl Terzaghi who was a consultant on the Chicago Subway Project. He joined the University of Illinois in 1942, and was a Professor of Foundation Engineering from 1948 to 1974. Since 1974, Professor Peck was a Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois, and a consultant in geotechnical engineering.

In 1948, together with Karl Terzaghi, Ralph Peck co-authored the most influential text book in geotechnical engineering, Soil Mechanics in Engineering Practice. In 1953 with Walt Hanson and Tom Thornburn, Ralph Peck co-authored the widely used text book Foundation Engineering.

In 1942, Dr. Peck joined the Civil Engineering Department of the University of Illinois, where he remained as a teacher and mentor until his retirement as Professor Emeritus in 1974. After moving to Albuquerque, Dr. Peck continued his active consulting practice which included jobs in forty-four states in the USA and twenty-eight countries on five continents. His more than one thousand consulting projects include: the rapid transit systems in Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington; the Alaskan Pipeline System; the James Bay Project in Quebec; and the Dead Sea dikes. He authored over 250 technical publications, and served as the President of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering from 1969 to 1973. In 1974, he was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Ford. A few of his many honors include the Norman Medal, The Wellington Prize, and the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Education from the American Society of Engineers. His last project was the Rion-Antirion Bridge in Greece. It received the ASCE’s OPAL Outstanding Civil Engineering Award for 2005, and is the only project outside the United States to be so honored.

Ralph Peck married Marjorie E. Truby on June 14, 1937. He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Nancy Peck (Allen) Young, and son and daughter-in-law, James (Laurie) Peck, and grandchildren, Michael Young and Maia Peck.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to: Ralph B. Peck Geotechnical Engineering Fund Univ. of Illinois Foundation 1305 West Green Street, MC-386 Urbana, Illinois, 61801.

A publication on his life and works by the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute is here.

The recently published book on Dr. Peck, Ralph B. Peck – Educator and Engineer – The Essence of the Man, by John Dunnicliff and Nancy Peck young, can be found at the ASCE Bookstore.

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