NZ Geomechanics News

Conference reports (12th Australian & New Zealand Young Geotechnical Professionals Conference)


Above: The delegates of 12YGPC at the Upper Deck Mures Restaurant for the conference dinner in Hobart waterfront

The Tasmanian Chapter of the AGS welcomed 45 delegates, 3 mentors, 5 sponsors, the National Secretary of AGS (Australian Geomechanics Society) and 4 organising committee members to the 12th Australia and New Zealand Young Geotechnical Professionals Conference (12YGPC), which was held at the Old Woolstore Hotel, Hobart, Tasmania, from 6th to 9th November 2018.

The 45 delegates aged 35 years or under were selected from a record number of 104 abstract submissions. Ten delegates with papers relevant to natural hazards in NZ were selected for jointly funded NZGS-EQC scholarships. The generous support from these organisations highlights the significance of understanding our natural hazards in NZ.

Held every two years, the YGP Conference is rather unique in that only 50 delegates attend and present. The small size allows young professionals a chance to hone their presentation skills in a supportive, constructive environment. Furthermore, social events allowed our delegates a chance to get to know each other and also unwind after the stress of presenting. Social events included welcome drinks, lunch and morning tea breaks during the day, two dinners, and a field trip.


Left: Members of 12YGPC senior industry mentoring panel: Prof. Stephen Fityus, Ross Roberts and Darren Paul (front row from right to left).
Right: From left to right: Sam Glue (NZGS’ Young Geotechnical Professionals Fellowship Award), Nicola Manche (AGS’ Don Douglas Youth Fellowship Award) and Alexander Rogan (12YGPC 2018 People’s Choice Award)



Left: Dolerite columns with irregular weathering forms and precarious rocks on the plateau
Right: Boulder of dolerite with Pinnacle track in foreground

The presentations were engaging and diverse, covering both research and practice. Each delegate presented in a 15 minute slot, with a strict 10 minute presentation time, followed by 5 minutes of questions and discussion from the audience. The timeslot was seldom exceeded, and when it was, presentations generally ended abruptly due to constant ringing of a bicycle bell provided by Colin. 5 minutes proved to be sufficient time for much stimulating discussion, which was very satisfying and entertaining to partake in for all.

Our senior industry mentors (Professor Stephen Fityus (AGS National Chair & University of Newcastle), Ross Roberts (NZGS Vice Chair and Treasurer & Auckland Council), and Darren Paul (Former AGS National Chair & Golder Associates)) very generously donated their time to judge each presentation and choose the winners of the AGS (Don Douglas) and NZGS (Young Geotechnical Professional Fellowship) awards. The mentors provided feedback to the group as a whole and individually. Concentration on individualised mentor feedback was a new feature of the conference, and it was very well received by delegates.

After several hours of hard deliberation by our mentors, the awards were presented at the conference dinner at Mures Upper Deck Restaurant, Hobart. The New Zealand Geotechnical Society’s Young Geotechnical Professionals Fellowship was awarded to Sam Glue of Tonkin and Taylor in Christchurch, for his work in designing a geogrid reinforced gravity seawall in New Zealand’s high seismicity environment. The Don Douglas Youth Fellowship Award was award to Nicola Manche of Golder Associates Pty Ltd in Brisbane for her work to optimise detailed design using early-works embankments in soft soils areas. The 12YGPC 2018 People’s Choice Award was given to Alexander Rogan of Pells Sullivan Meynink in Brisbane, for his case study on impact of jet grouted column variability on a base block in sand. In addition, Darron Lee of EDG Consulting Pty Ltd in Brisbane and Alexander Rogan received the Honourable Mentions Awards of AGS while Francesca Spinardi of University of Waikato and Lauren Foote of ENGEO in Christchurch named the Honourable Mentions Awards of NZGS.

Sam and Nikki will have the opportunity to present their papers and to represent New Zealand and Australia, respectively, at an upcoming international conference.

After a night enjoying the hospitality scene of Hobart which included renditions of Dave Dobbyn’s Welcome Home and Waltzing Matilda, fresh air, fantastic views and interesting geology up Kunanyi / Mount Wellington was highly enjoyed by attendees on Friday morning. The field trip was led by Colin Mazengarb, and his colleagues from Mineral Resources Tasmania (Tasmanian Government). Mount Kunanyi boasted some impressive rock formations, mass wasting features, and landslides and views of Hobart and surrounds.

To sum up, 12YGPC was an outstanding conference, and one that I will personally always remember fondly. It was a learning experience not only for delegates, but also organisers, with several grey areas and challenges being encountered along the way.
The 12YGPC saw the rising of future leaders and a bright future of trans-Tasman geotechnical professions. We look forward to 13YGPC to be held in Australia, 2020.

NZ Geomechanics News
Philippa Mills
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 96 - December 2018

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