NZ Geomechanics News

International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE) Regional Report for Australasia

Mid-Term Regional Report For Australasia

The ISSMGE is the pre-eminent professional body representing the interests and activities of Engineers, Academics and Contractors all over the world that actively participate in geotechnical engineering. 

1. Introduction

As most of you will know, Gavin Alexander has had to withdraw from his role as Vice President for Australasia, a role that I have taken up. Thank you for your excellent contributions to ISSMGE, Gavin. You are an outstanding example to us all. I hope to serve the NZGS and AGS as well as you have, and I will endeavour to continue your goals to increase the profile of the ISSMGE amongst our members.

2. Cape Town Board Meeting

The ISSMGE Board Meeting was held in Century City, Cape Town on Saturday 5 October 2019. There were a few items discussed during the all-day meeting that may be of interest to our region.  Our President Charles Ng has signed onto the Cooperation Agreement for the Federation of International Geo-engineering Societies (FedIGS). This Agreement was approved in the meeting of the Presidents of IAEG, ISRM, and ISSMGE in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on May 12, 2006, modified by the FedIGS Board in the meeting of the Board Members of IAEG, ISRM, ISSMGE, and IGS in Shenyang, China on 4 July 2015, and modified again by the FedIGS Board in the meeting of the Board Members of IAEG, ISRM, ISSMGE, and IGS in San Francisco, USA on Sept. 24, 2018.

Secondly, ISSMGE is pleased to announce the launch of its Conference Review Platform (CRP). This platform is provided at no cost with the requirement that published papers will become available in open access through the ISSMGE Online Library. The ISSMGE is very excited to make this cyber-infrastructure available to the geo-community and we hope it will further support unrestricted access to scientific material at a global scale.

Thirdly, and as a part of the ISSMGE’s President initiatives, a new Technical Committee (TC) on Machine learning and big data was proposed by NGI. Together with other two TCs, all proposals and potential new Chairs were approved and presented to the Board for discussion and final approval:

  •  TC309: Machine learning (25/1/2018), by Dr. Zhongqiang Liu from NGI (Norway)
  •  TC219: System Performance (2/4/2019), by Prof. Gang Zheng from Tianjin University (China)
  •  TC220: Field instrumentation (2/4/2019), by Dr. Andrew Ridley from Geotechnical Observations (UK)

3. ISSMGE Council Meeting

The Board Meeting was followed the next day by the ISSMGE Council Meeting, which are held every two years and typically occur mid-way between International Conferences. The Council Meeting was well attended by delegates representing many of the 92 member societies.  I was honoured to present Gavin’s Regional Report to the Council on behalf of the AGS and the NZGS.

Towards the end of the Council Meeting, things became a little livelier when the Secretary General presented the proposed ISSMGE budget for the next two years. Following a debate and vote sparked by the delegate from Germany, an increased amount for the ISSMGE Foundation of £40,000 for Financial Year 2021 was carried and approved.  The ISSMGE Foundation was created to aid individual ISSMGE members throughout the world to enhance their geotechnical engineering knowledge and practice by providing financial support for participation in technical and professional activities approved by the ISSMGE Foundation. There is no prescriptive list of admissible events and all reasonable applications will be considered, considering the relevance to ISSMGE and active rather than passive participation by the applicant.

The next day, Monday 7th October 2019, the 17th African Regional Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, was kicked off by The President of ISSMGE and the VP-Africa, Etienne Marcelin Kana.  The opening addresses include a presentation by Chungsik Yoo, President of the IGS. 

4. ICSMGE 2021 Sydney 2021 

Preparations for Sydney 2021 continue, with the Local Organising Committee, led by John Carter, with Graham Scholey’s support and the committee meeting regularly. I am sure that The Conference will be one not to be missed.  Mark Jaksa’s Technical Program Committee is putting together an outstanding and jam-packed technical program. I encourage you to support them, and this world class event, in whatever way you can. 

5. The Corporate Associates Presidential Group (CAPG)

Peter Day is now the Chair of the CAPG, with our own Sukumar Pathmanandavel being Co-Chair. 

It is fair to say that the profile of the corporate associates and CAPG have never been higher or more active than at present. 

Very soon, the first New Zealand based company will become a Corporate Associate of the ISSMGE.  Thanks to Gavin Alexander for initiating and encouraging Ground Investigation to become a Corporate Associate. Thank you to Marco Holtrigter at Ground Investigation Ltd, we welcome you to the ISSMGE.

Please encourage you Corporate Colleagues to consider joining the ISSMGE as a Corporate Associate.  It is a great way to reach out to the ISSMGE membership and cheap way of getting international exposure.

6. “Are we over designing?” Survey

Sukumar and Peter are committed to making the “are we over designing?” survey highly meaningful and are working to have the findings presented at the Sydney 2021 conference. I would like us to have a strong showing from Australia and NZ. Globally, Peter and Sukumar would like to have a minimum of 200 responses by Dec 2020. ANZ has contributed well to date with 11 responses (see below distribution of the 44 responses to date).

In addition to providing valuable insight into the practice of design across various countries in the world, the survey is also a great opportunity to benchmark your companies approach to design of relatively simple geotechnical problems. No details of the company are required nor would these details, even if provided, be released.

 Full details of how to undertake and submit the survey can be found both on the ISSMGE website: and in Geoworld ( 

Figure: Distribution of the Responses to Date

7. The ISSMGE App

On my commute home the other day, I downloaded the ISSMGE App onto my phone.  It is a great way to keep up to date with the Society’s activities and content.  You can take in a webinar or read from one of the international conference proceedings. It certainly made my train ride home go quickly! For more information about the ISSMGE, please visit

8. Next Board Meeting

Our next ISSMGE Board Meeting will be in Hammamet, Tunisia on Sunday 8 March 2020 followed by the International Conference on Geotechnical Engineering (ICGE’20) organised by the Research Laboratory in Geotechnical Engineering and Georisk (RLGEG), the 4th edition of the series labelled “Innovative Geotechnical Engineering”.

Finally, Graham and I would like to wish you and your families all the best for the festive season and summer holidays.

Best regards,

Philip Robins
ISSMGE Vice President for Australasia

Graham Scholey
AGS Liaison with the ISSMGE VP for Australasia

Tags : #ISSMGE

NZ Geomechanics News
philip Robins
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 98 - December 2019
International Report, Society News

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