Chair’s Corner

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Chair’s Corner

This will be the last of my ‘Chair’s Corner’ articles, as my term as Chair will come to an end in September after two and a half years. As they say, it’s been a blast – well, pretty full-on anyway. The normal two year term for the Society’s Management Committee officers was extended to two and a half by virtue of our decision to move the AGM from March to September each year in order to bring it closer to the end of the financial year on 30th September.

The Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering Guidelines Series

I gave an update on progress with development of the Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering Guidelines in my last Chair’s corner, six months ago, and I’m pleased to be able to report now that two more modules should have been published as drafts for comment by the time you read this: Module 5 ‘Ground improvement of soils prone to liquefaction’ and Module 6 ‘Seismic design of retaining walls’. This brings to seven the number of modules published in the series so far (Modules 1 to 6 and 5A), and completes the full list which was targeted back in 2015. This is a significant milestone to have reached, for which the society acknowledges the input of all the authors, editors and reviewers of the modules, and in particular that of Mike Stannard for his unwavering support for their development as editor-in-chief, and for MBIE’s funding. Without both the funding and the efforts of each of these people the series would not be in the advanced position in which it now finds itself, and I personally wish to thank each of them. One further module, Earthquake Slope Stability, has been added to the series and our expectations are that work will commence with this by the end of the year. In the meantime the editorial panel will examine comments received on these first six modules and revise the existing versions. It is intended to make further revisions in the future, as required.

Training

We are continuing to develop training to accompany each of the module publications, jointly with MBIE and IPENZ. So far we have put on face to face courses on Module 3, Liquefaction, and Module 4, Foundations. Webinars have been produced for Modules 1 (an Overview of the Series), Module 3 (Liquefaction), and Module 5A, the Ground Improvement Specification. These are available from the MBIE website. Training is now being developed for Module 6 (Seismic design of retaining walls), targeting both structural and geotechnical engineers, with a target of October this year, and Module 5 (Ground improvement). Further courses are also being considered for Modules 3 and 4.
MBIE are planning to hold a one day Masterclass on the Series immediately prior to the NZGS Symposium in November. It is hoped that sufficient comments will have been received on the published modules to indicate areas of concern, difficulty or particular interest to members and that these will be targeted for discussion and explanation at the Masterclass.

Professional status

You will no doubt be aware of the changes in store to the pathways to professional membership of IPENZ, which becomes ‘Engineering New Zealand’ from October. The new membership categories will include a new category of ‘Chartered Member’, which will be open to engineering geologists as well as geotechnical engineers. The existing PEngGeol status will be included in this membership category, giving engineering geologists the title CMIPENZ (PEngGeol).

The development of ‘Bodies of Knowledge and Skills’ for both geotechnical engineers and engineering geologists are progressing, with comments on the former being compiled for final publication, and the latter progressing towards a draft in the next Geomechancis News. After further consultation with other stakeholder organisations these will be available on the NZGS website. The BOKS are being developed to define minimum technical capabilities expected of a CPEng (Geotechnical) or CMIPENZ (PEngGeol). They are intended to complement and inform the CPEng and PEngGeol assessment processes and to provide benchmarks for the professions.

Scholarship

In recent years the NZGS has funded a scholarship every two years for a member to carry out some research which the society feels will be of benefit to the profession at large. The scholarship was initially valued at $10,000, but in 2016/17 we have increased its value, and this year decided to make awards to two of the applicants that our judges were particularly impressed with. The first of these is Katherine Yates’s study “In trying to better understand the shear strength of Loess” which she is carrying out at the University of Canterbury, and for which a scholarship of $15,000 has been awarded. A second award has been made to Thomas Robertson for “Laboratory-scale Trials on the Sensitive Material from Bramley Drive Landslide on the Omokoroa Peninsula”, for which he is currently carrying out research into highly sensitive pyroclastic-derived halloysitic soils, and has been awarded a scholarship of $7,500.

Rankine Lecture

Richard Jardine delivered his 2016 Rankine lecture at two venues in New Zealand in March. It was unfortunate that weather prevented him from landing in Wellington, and so a delivery there had to be cancelled at very short notice. His lectures in Auckland and Christchurch were well received. We are hoping to be able to attract Richard back again in 2018 to deliver a short course for us, possibly in soft ground engineering.

I am pleased to be able to report that we appear to be having a resurgence in support for many of the regional centres. Among others, we now have a set of four fresh faces in Wellington to take over from Ayoub Riman and Dolan Hewitt, two new faces in Hawkes Bay in the form of Tom Bunny and Tom Grace, and a new branch in Northland with Phil Cook. The society is grateful for all the effort that has been put into the planning and running of branch meetings by regional representatives. Without their input the society would not be able to function in the way it does.
During the last six months I have been absent for some time due to illness, and I wish to thank my vice-chair, Tony Fairclough, for very ably picking up the reins and keeping things running during my absences. Tony will take over the Chair’s role following the next AGM, in September, and members can be assured of getting a very capable and dedicated new Chair. Good luck Tony. I am also grateful to the remainder of the Management Committee who are so dedicated and committed, and who between them manage to keep the wheels of the society oiled.
I look forward to seeing many of you during the NZGS Symposium in November in Hawkes Bay.

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