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Searching for future solutions

One of the things that has always fascinated me about ground engineering is the fact you never stop learning and I know I am not alone in seeing the appeal of this ongoing challenge.

Much of what we report in GE is about the challenges faced in getting projects onto site and delivered on time and within budget but that is only part of the story. Research to find better solutions for the future is essential and in this issue we have two stories that stand out in that way.

In this month’s laboratory testing feature we report on a new test chamber developed by US-based Purdue University that claims to be able to “precisely simulate soil-structure interactions”. Researchers working on the new equipment believe that it could improve design and construction of almost any structure through creation of accurate physical models, which has the potential to move the industry closer to performance-based design.

The other story that caught my eye – and had me googling to find out more – was news that another US-based university had secured funding to set up a research centre looking at biogeotechnical engineering. Maybe I am behind the times but it was a term I had never come across before. Essentially the aim of the new centre at Arizona State University will be aiming to mimic nature to develop more sustainable geotechnical solutions that harmonise better with the environment.

While I don’t imagine the research will see the end of heavy civil engineering in geotechnical design, it is important to look at the “what ifs” and “I wonder whys” of our sector in order to find innovative new solutions.

In the UK, GE’s Next Generation Awards judges will soon be looking at this year’s entries to assess the fresh approach that early career engineers are already bringing to the geotechnics business. If the up and coming stars of your business haven’t entered the awards yet, make sure they go to the GE Skills Hub soon. 

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