Geotechnical Frontiers 2017 features seven exclusive plenary lectures throughout the conference.

Think Big, Go Big, Go Fast, Be Smart about It
Sunday, March 12, 2017 | 5:00-5:30 pm

Craig Fugate, Former FEMA Administrator
W. Craig Fugate served as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator from May 2009 through January 2017.  Prior to that, he served as Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s Emergency Management Director from 2001-2009. Fugate led FEMA through the Federal Government’s response to major events such as the Joplin and Moore Tornadoes, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Matthew, and the 2016 Louisiana flooding. Fugate focused on setting a clear and compelling vision, mission, and priorities for FEMA, as well as fostering a balanced, community-oriented approach to emergency management.


Mercer Lecture:
Stabilization of Roadways using Geosynthetics

Sunday, March 12, 2017 | 5:30-6:30 pm

Jorge Zornberg, The University of Texas at Austin
This Mercer lecture provides an overview of experimental, analytical and field monitoring studies conducted to evaluate the use of geosynthetics in roadway stabilization. This includes the stabilization of roadways founded on expansive clay subgrades. The quantification of stiffness parameters, identified to assess the lateral restraint mechanism, is found to provide a good basis to evaluate the field performance of geosynthetic-stabilization paved roads.


Welcome and H. Bolton Seed Medal Lecture:
Numerical Analysis of Stability and Risk in Highly Variable Soils
Monday, March 13, 2017 | 8–9:30 am

D. Vaughan Griffiths, Colorado School of Mines
There has been a rapid growth of interest in risk assessment, and the use of probabilistic methods in geotechnical engineering. This is a logical development, since soils and rocks are among the most variable of all engineering materials, and geotechnical engineers must often make do with materials they are dealt with at any particular site. Analysis of a typical stability problem may lead to a “probability of failure”, as opposed to the more traditional “factor of safety”, representing a fundamental shift in the way engineers need to think about the suitability of their designs. The lecture will include results of stability analyses of variable soils by the finite element method, and include a discussion of the factor of safety and its relationship to the probability of failure. Some methods of probabilistic analysis with varying levels of complexity will be described.

The H. Bolton Seed Medal Lecture is given annually by the recipient of the H. Bolton Seed Medal for outstanding contributions to teaching, research or practice in geotechnical engineering.


Ralph B. Peck Medal Lecture:
A New Paradigm for Slope Stability Analysis under Variably Saturated Conditions

Monday, March 13, 2017 | 4–5:30 pm

Ning Lu, Colorado School of Mines
This lecture will highlight two major advancements in slope stability analysis that stemmed from several multi-year field hydro-mechanical monitoring. The first significant breakthrough is the capability to handle the transient field of effective stress in variably saturated slopes under rainfall conditions. Using effective stress analysis preserves the rigor, simplicity, and practicality of the classical slope stability methodologies (e.g., limit equilibrium). The second is to quantify the field of local factor of safety (FS), which radically departs from the classical one-FS-for-one-slope paradigm and allows identification of failure initiation and progression zones in slopes. The new hydro-mechanical framework for slope stability design and analysis only requires three parameters in addition to the classical shear strength and seepage parameters. These parameters are used to uniquely define slope materials’ constitutive relations of the soil water characteristic curve, hydraulic conductivity function, and suction stress characteristic curve. Several field cases are used to illustrate the validity, accuracy and simplicity of the new hydro-mechanical framework for slope stability analysis.

The Ralph B. Peck Medal Lecture is delivered annually by a geotechnical engineer selected for outstanding contributions to the profession through the analysis and publication of case histories.


Robert M. Koerner Award and Lecture
Successes Hidden in the Details
Tuesday, March 14, 2017 | 8-9:30 am

George Koerner, Director, Geosynthetic Institute
With fantastic progress over the last thirty years, what concerns and opportunities still exist for the further development of geosynthetic-aided systems in Civil Engineering applications? This presentation discusses examples encompassing manufacturing and field installation of such developments, pointing out specific elements that can reduce the probability of error. The presentation will purposely stay away from design and testing issues, as they are perceived to be in relative good order. It will instead highlight several procedures and practices which are arguably in need of change so that we can reduce risk, maximize performance and continue to grow the industry worldwide. Established in 2016, the Robert M. Koerner Award and Lecture is given to an individual that has had a measurable impact on the Geosynthetics industry in North America. Recipients are also required to have a background in one or more of the following areas of expertise: education, design, or testing of geotextiles, geomembranes, geogrids, geonets, GCLs and/or erosion control materials.


Karl Terzaghi Lecture
Protecting the Environment with Geosynthetics: Successes and Challenges
Tuesday, March 14, 2017 | 4:45–6 pm

Kerry Rowe, GeoEngineering Centre at Queen’s University
The successful role geosynthetics have played in protecting the environment is discussed together with some key design and construction considerations. The increasing demands being placed on geosynthetics and their role in addressing future challenges due to more severe exposure conditions, climate change, and growing expectations for minimization of environmental impacts are examined.

For more than 50 years the Karl Terzaghi Lecture has been given by an individual honored for their exemplary contributions to the field of geotechnical engineering.