International Geotechnical Mini-Symposium at the University of Delaware (U.S.A.)

On 22 March 2019, an international geotechnical mini-symposium was held at the University of Delaware (U.S.A.) in conjunction with TC 305 “Geotechnical Infrastructure of Mega-Cities and New Capitals”. The mini-symposium was moderated by Professor Victor N. Kaliakin (Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Delaware), member of the ASCE Geo-Institute (GI) and Kazakhstan Geotechnical Society.

The invited lecture for the mini-symposium was given by Professor Askar Zhussupbekov, chairman of TC 305, past ISSMGE vice-president for Asia, and ASCE GI member. The title of Professor Zhussupbekov’s lecture was “Geotechnical Construction and Testing of Piling Foundations on Problematic Soils of Kazakhstan”.

Figure 1. Professor Askar Zhussupbekov (L) receiving plaque from Professor Victor N. Kaliakin

Following the invited lecture, were two presentations by professors from the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Delaware, namely:

· Kalehiwot Manahiloh, on the topic of “Research Highlights of the Manahiloh Research Group”; and,

· Nii Attoh-Okine, on the subject of “Data Science and Geotechnical Data Analysis”.

Figure 2. Professor Kalehiwot Manahiloh presenting the research of Ms. Christy Bugher

Also participating in the mini-symposium were doctoral and masters students from the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, who gave the following presentations:

· Mr. Mehdi Kadivar (PhD candidate), “Laboratory Characterization of the Mechanical Behavior of an Unsaturated mid-Atlantic Transition Soil”;

· Mr. Ali Al Saadi (PhD candidate), “Numerical Study of the Behavior of a Fully Encased Stone Column Bearing on a Non-Rigid Layer”;

· Mr. Will Baker (PhD candidate), “Preliminary Results from a Continuous Compaction Control Data Set Recorded During Active Earthwork Construction”,

· Renee Lamprinakos (Masters student), “Biochar’s Effect on Soils Properties”;

· Christy Bugher (Masters student), “3D Finite Element Analysis of Reinforced Concrete Box Culverts”.

During the week following the mini-symposium, these same students made podium and poster presentations at the 2019 ASCE Geo-Congress that was held in nearby Philadelphia, PA.

A technical tour of laboratory facilities was also held in conjunction with the mini-symposium. Emphasis was placed on Professors Manahiloh’s facilities for testing both saturated and unsaturated soils.

It is timely to note that many experimental and numerical research projects are being carried out by geotechnical graduate students in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Delaware, under the supervision of Professors Manahiloh and Kaliakin. Many of the experimental results from Professor Manahiloh’s laboratory have been subsequently simulated numerically using constitutive models developed by the two professors. In addition, research projects involving numerical simulations of select soil-structure interaction problems in the civil infrastructure have also been undertaken, building on Professor Kaliakin’s past research in Computational Geomechanics.

Figure 3. Some participants of the geotechnical mini-symposium: (L to R) Mehdi Kadivar, Professor Victor N. Kaliakin, Will Baker, Professor Askar Zhussupbekov, Renee Lamprinakos, and Ali Al Saadi

Following the mini-symposium, Professor Zhussupbekov discussed with Professors Sue Mc Neil (department chairperson) and Kaliakin the possibility of future collaborative research between geotechnical faculty at the University of Delaware and his home institution (Eurasian National University in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan). The initial emphasis of such research would likely be the numerical simulation of piled foundations in the problematic soils of Kazakhstan. This area of joint research has the potential of enhancing the design of foundations for difficult soil conditions in both the U.S.A. and in Kazakhstan.

In addition to the aforementioned technical program, a visit was organized to the world-renowned Longwood Gardens, an American botanical garden located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. This was followed by an excursion to the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, an American estate and museum in Winterthur, Delaware.