The 6th International Young Geotechnical Engineers’ Conference was held in September, on the weekend preceding the 19ICSMGE in Seoul. It was attended by 107 delegates from 52 countries, including two delegates from New Zealand – myself and Pip Mills.
All delegates were required to deliver a 10 minute presentation, with topics ranging from “Friction tests on clayey soils for fast and bouncy cricket pitches in Sri Lanka” to “The shrinkage of invading CO2 phase by capillary end effect in the drainage modelling for geological microfluidic chip geometry by lattice Boltzmann method”. I’ll admit to following the first slightly more readily.
The presentations gave an insight to the “flavour” of geotechnical engineering in the different regions. The Swedes use lots of timber poles, as we do in NZ, with their contractors buying forests directly adjacent to road embankments over soft ground and driving the poles untreated. The South Africans seem to have a pragmatic approach, not dissimilar to our own. The Ghanaians were looking at use of coconut fibres in road construction. The Danish are not so interested in landslides, their highest point having an elevation of 171m, but they are experts in offshore wind turbine foundations.
Of the two papers I found most interesting, one detailed centrifuge testing of a scale soil nail model to assess seismic performance. The testing visually demonstrated how closer spacing and smaller inclination is more effective. The second paper was on modelling of soil suction and groundwater pressure based on actual rainfall for stability analysis. This was a good reminder of the ever present, but not always considered, realm of unsaturated soil mechanics.
My highlight of the conference was, however, the chance to mix and mingle with people from around the world. The outgoing ISSMGE president strongly asserted that we were in an enjoyable profession of good people. My time at the conference reinforced this. This was equally the same at the ICSMGE where the keynote speakers and other well recognised names were friendly and willing to have a good discussion.
Pip provides her highlights as follow:
“iYGEC6 was an intense yet thoroughly enjoyable two days of discussion about our mutual love of soil and rock behaviour. As David mentioned, the scope of presentation topics varied hugely, making it easier to concentrate for the full day. Highlights for me included meeting a fellow halloysite enthusiast, delicious Korean BBQ, fangirling with the legendary engineer Idriss, and mingling with so many different cultures. Between talks, we explored the bustling metropolis of Seoul – 12 million in one city, just a slight step up for this Waikato country girl! This included visits to the Royal Palace, the North Korean Border, hiking in the local national park, many a Korean BBQ, and exploring the nightlife, where I discovered that the Belgians have a certain love for Celine Dion classics at karaoke. Many thanks to NZGS for the unforgettable experience.”
Myself and Pip were selected to attend 6iYGEC during the ANZ Young Geotechnical Professionals’ Conferences (YGPC) in 2014 and 2016 respectively. NZGS provided an award to contribute towards our attendance and we thank NZGS for this. We also encourage all young NZGS members to keep eye out for the next ANZ YGPC in Tasmania, Australia in 2018. Attending will be a rewarding experience and it is a great place to deliver your first technical paper.
Reported by Dave Buxton