12:15 – 1:45 p.m.
Education and Promotion of New Technologies

Moderator: Robert Mackey, S2L, Inc.
The International Geosynthetic Society, North America (IGS-NA) Chapter, has revitalized the “Educate the Educators” Program. This program brings professors of various engineering programs to a central location and spends two (2) days training them how to teach and insert geosynthetic technologies into their respective engineering coursework. Although this program has the ability to insert geosynthetic technology into approximately 30 engineering colleges per year, these colleges represents only 5 percent of the 600 plus civil engineering colleges within the United States. At this rate of educating college professors, it could be 20 plus years before each college has some limited form of geosynthetic education within their engineering coursework. Can the geosynthetic community (or other new technology communities) find other approaches to improve the number of engineering colleges teaching new technologies?   The panel will address the issues that either limits or promotes the inclusion of new technologies within engineering coursework. It is hoped through this discussion, conference attendees can begin to comprehend the scope to work effort required to promote the education of new technologies

Panel Members:

  • Bob Mackey, S2Li, “Engineering Education Paradigm”
  • Shobia Bhatia, Syracuse University, “Geosynthetic Coursework at Syracuse University”
  • Richard Brachman, Queen’s University, “Educate the Educations Program”
  • David Suits, Independent Consultant, “Continuing Education for Federal Highway Administration”
  • Larry Sullivan, Adjunct Professor, Citadel, “Selling new technologies in the oil/gas field”


9:45 – 11:15 a.m.
Bio-Geotechnical Stabilization of Slopes

Moderators: Donald Gray, University of Michigan and Ming Xiao, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park
Interest in the bio-geotechnical stabilization of slopes and stream banks has proceeded apace during the past decade. Bio-geotechnical stabilization is an umbrella term that includes soil bioengineering, eco engineering and biotechnical slope protection. More recently interest in bio-geotechnical stabilization has expanded to include microbial stabilization using both soil microbes that produce a type of “biological glue” (under the right conditions) and by microscopic hairs, e.g., fungal hyphae, that bind soil particles together. A panel session at the Geotechnical Frontiers 2017 Conference would provide an opportunity to bring together leading USA experts to discuss the latest findings and developments in bio-geotechnical stabilization. The panel will consist of experts with demonstrated knowledge and record of practice in the field of bio-geotechnical stabilization. These experts would be selected primarily from the ranks of engineers, consultants, academic faculty, and government resource personnel in the United States with a known expertise in the field.

Panel Members

  • J. David Frost, Georgia Tech
  • Robbin Sotir, Robbin B. Sotir & Assoc., Inc.
  • Doug Shields, Jr., cbec eco engineering,


1:15 – 2:45 p.m.
Pavement Interlayers – Benefits and Best Practices

Organized by Geosynthetic Materials Association
Panel Advisors:
Mike Samuleoff, HUESKER, Mark Marienfeld, Propex

Pavement Interlayers are increasingly being used as a means to extend the life of existing or new road surfaces across the United States. The Interlayer system can be used in conjunction with an overlay or chip seal surface treatments for medium to long term benefits, in the construction, rehabilitation or maintenance of pavements. The GMA Sponsored Interlayers Panel discussion  will cover; the advantages of using interlayers; when to use interlayers; the cost effectiveness of interlayers and Installation considerations.

Panel Members

  • Jeff Rasche, Tencate
  • Nicholas Reck, Tensar
  • Tripp Bishop, American Paving Fabrics
  • Bill Leahy, National Highway Maintenance Systems


3 – 4:30 p.m.
In Situ Modification of Soil Properties using Biological Mechanisms

Moderator: Brina Montoya, North Carolina State University; Matt Evans, Oregon State
Committee Sponsorship: Soil Properties & Modeling
Biological processes are prevalent through the geo-environment and interdisciplinary investigations have indicated that these processes can lead to changed properties and behavior of the geomaterial.  Harnessing the bio-geo processes and treating the geo-environment as a holistic, living system can enhance the sustainability of subsurface characterization techniques, soil remediation, soil improvement, and hazard mitigation.  The biological mechanisms often utilized to improve soil properties include the formation of organic biofilms, the precipitation of inorganic minerals, and the generation of bio-gas.  These approaches have led to innovations in the fields of bio-mediated soil improvement and bio-remediation. The panel will bring together experts within the intersection of geotechnical engineering, microbiology, and geochemistry.  Representatives from academia and industry will be represented to share their experiences with recent research goals and innovations.  The goal of the session is to promote discussion on the current needs of the research community, specifically focusing on implementing the technologies in situ, verification of the treatment effectiveness, and long term monitoring of the treatment.

Panel Members:

  • Lisheng Shao, Hayward Baker
  • Michael Gomez, University of Washington
  • Leon van Paassen, Arizona State University
  • Brian Martinez, Geosyntec


8:00 – 9:30 a.m.
Challenges and Opportunities: Coal ash & wastewater from energy generation

Moderator: Milind Khire and John Daniels, UNC Charlotte
One-third of electrical energy in the United States is derived from combustion of coal. While there has been a gradual decline in the use of coal due to increase in the investments in natural gas, solar and wind derived energy, there are hundreds of millions of tons of coal combustion residuals (CCRs) which are currently temporarily stored in landfills and wet coal ash ponds. The new federal regulations released in 2015 are changing the way the CCRs and wastewater from coal power plants are managed and discharged. This panel discussion session will start with keynote presentations from academic and industry experts from diverse backgrounds addressing the regulations and the expected changes on the ground in design and operation to successfully manage existing and new streams of CCRs and environmental and infrastructure implications of re-use of CCRs.

Panel Members:

  • Kevin Harshberger, R.B. Jergens Contractors
  • Charles Hiner, Duke Energy
  • Joshua Lippert, Southern Company
  • Kent Nilsson, TRC Environmental Corporation


9:45 – 11:15 a.m.
How to Design your Containment System for Zero Leakage by including Geoelectric Integrity Tests

Moderator: Tim Bauters, Golder Associates, Inc.
Following the packed room and standing audience during the geoelectric panel discussion in Portland in 2015, there will be a follow-up geoelectric panel discussion during the Geofrontiers 2017 held in Orlando. After a short presentation about geoelectric methods, there will be an open panel discussion regarding the following particular topic of interest relating optimizing containment designs for zero leakage.  After each of the topic discussed the floor will be opened to the audience for questions or comments: What is should be considered during design to perform a geoelectric surveys to achieve zero leakage. How do you specify a geoelectric surveys to achieve zero leakage How do you CQA a geoelectric survey to achieve zero leakage? What should be the next steps taken by the industry to reduce the destructive testing on a small area of seams that barely fails in service and increase non-destructive geoelectric testing to test the key function of a geomembrane, which is to prevent leakage?

Panel Members:

  • Glen W. Toepfer, CQA Solutions, LTD – Representing CQA
  • Rick Thiel, Thiel Engineering – Representing Design
  • Carl Charpentier, Group Alphard – Representing Geoelectric Leak Survey
  • Matthew Kemnitz, Leak Locations Services Inc. — Representing Geoelectric Leak Survey
  • John Heap, Colorado Lining Inc. – Representing Geosynthetic Liners


1:30 – 3 p.m.
Design Responsibility for Mechanically Stabilized Earth

Moderator: John Sankey and Robert Lozano, The Reinforced Earth Company
The design of a geosynthetic or steel-reinforced mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) wall typically involves several steps before it is provided to an owner for approval and to a contractor for construction. The design basis usually depends on whether the owner is a public or private entity, the content of the tender documents prepared for bid and the responsibilities assigned for construction.

The question that arises is where the responsibility of the owner, contractor and supplier begins and ends with any particular MSE wall project.The geotechnical consultant retained by the owner in many cases prepares a site investigation that may recognize the need for a retaining structure, but may not be fully involved in later design input as the MSE wall project develops. This geotechnical consultant will typically prepare an investigation that addresses subsurface investigations, laboratory testing and preparation of a consulting report with different possible retaining structures indicated.  The owner then selects specific retaining wall type(s) that are released for tender to bidding contractors. The contractor in turn engages a MSE supplier; with the contractor acting as a go between responsible for obtaining information and details to meet the tender requirements set by the owner. In many cases, the availability of select backfill and its physical characteristics are not available to the MSE supplier at time of design, resulting in the selection of default values. Structural loads, drainage features and utility locations are additional considerations that are needed by the MSE supplier in design, though such information is not always documented in tender documents.

This session will address the transfer of information and assigned responsibilities for MSE wall projects by the owner, geotechnical consultant, contractor and supplier. A proper geotechnical subsurface investigation should fit the type of structure to be constructed. Even more so, the division of analysis between internal, external and global stability should be well defined between the parties involved to refrain from fragmenting the process of safe design. On the construction side, continued presence by the geotechnical consultant and MSE supplier are necessary to meet the intent of design. Improvements in the current process are much needed and the paper will be used to outline recommendations.

The session will start out with 5 to 10 minute presentations by representatives from the owner (public/government), geotechnical consultant, contractor and MSE supplier communities. The session will end with a panel discussion that addresses agreement and conflict considerations for more smoothly addressing design and liability interactions. Active audience participation will be encouraged during the session to examine this timely topic area.

Panel Members:

  • John Sankey, PE, Terre Armeé, Moderator
  • James G Collin, PE, PhD, The Collin Group, Ltd, Geotechnical Consultant
  • Daniel Alzamora, PE, FHWA, Government Owner
  • Willie Liew, PE, Tensar Grade Separation Solution Systems, MSE Wall Supplier
  • Robert Lozano, The Reinforced Earth Company, MSE Wall Supplier
  • Scott Sothen, Slaton Brothers, Inc, MSE Wall Contractor