Basic Geotechnical Engineering Skills: What can Graduates Do?

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Published 28 November 2017
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Basic Geotechnical Engineering Skills: What can Graduates Do?

Presented by Professor John Atkinson Senior Principal, Coffey Geotechnics Emeritus Professor of Soil Mechanics, City University London on 28 November 2017 at Auckland University.

The talk describes how to investigate and model the ground, how to determine parameters and how to perform simple analyses.

A university teaching department is like a factory making widgets. Raw materials – school leavers – come in and the product – graduates – goes out. University teachers are the machines that convert the raw material into product. Firms that employ graduates purchase the product and they want to buy something that is fit for purpose. The machines – the university staff – may be very efficient but it is no good if they are making the wrong product.

Employers want graduates who have a set of basic skills that they can rely on. They want graduates who can: with a geological map and memoir, some tubes of soil from the site, a pencil and paper produce safe and serviceable designs for simple slopes and foundations. If graduates cannot do that they cannot do anything else reliably.

The talk describes how to investigate and model the ground, how to determine parameters and how to perform simple analyses. These are the basic skills needed to meet the expectations of employers. It describes how these skills can be acquired by students in a typical undergraduate university course. The emphasis is not on the education process but on the product – what can graduates do, and employers are able to test whether or not they can.

This talk is based on the 1st John Burland Honour Lecture. The original version is one of the ISSMGE webinar series.

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