Almost all of the facilities that make up our infrastructure are in, on or with earth materials, and geotechnical engineering is the discipline that deals with applications of technology to solve these problems. Examples of facilities in the earth are:
- deep foundations and
Highway pavements and many buildings are supported on the earth. And earth dams, levees, embankments and slopes are constructed with the earth. In addition, many soil-like waste materials are deposited in containment areas. To design these facilities, geotechnical engineers must conduct analyses based on the principles of mechanics and mathematics. These analyses require input data to quantify the properties of the earth materials, and this information is usually obtained from laboratory or field tests.
Faculty in the Geotechnical Area
The active areas of geotechnical engineering research include the following:
- deep foundations
- earthquake engineering
- foundations and earth retention systems
- monitoring infrastructure performance
- reliability-based design
- soil and rock dynamics
- stability and performance of earth slopes
- subsurface containment systems
- water and chemical movement in soil
The primary geotechnical teaching laboratory has capabilities for performing the basic index tests and some more advanced testing including permeability, consolidation, and unconfined compression. A second laboratory is used to perform strength testing on soils including direct shear and triaxial shear. This lab is a shared undergraduate, graduate and research laboratory space. The undergraduate students use this space for typically three class periods each semester.