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I stumbled across a nice interview of Dan Brown, a recognized deep foundation expert and founder of Dan Brown and Associates, in a back issue of Pile Buck magazine. He discussed some of the large design-build contracts that they have been involved in, designing foundations for some of the biggest bridges in the Country. One of my takeaways was that he called himself and his colleagues 'foundation engineers' and pointed out that we shouldn't pigeon-hole ourselves as geotechnical engineers or structural engineers, foundation engineering requires elements of both and you must look at it from design all the way through construction. Overall, he has a very practical approach to his work, focusing on solving problems and designing things that are constructable and optimized. But perhaps my favorite tidbit from the interview was a football analogy for the design-build work that they do:
I tell people it's like a football team. We're the left tackle on the offensive line. We don't always see what's going on. If the quarterback fumbles the ball, it's not always our fault. If we score a touchdown, we don't always get noticed. But, if we miss a block, we definitely get noticed.
So, in foundation engineering, if we do our job well, we're like the offensive line: somebody else gets credit but everyone on the team knows we did our job. If we don't do our job, well, it's a disaster of epic proportions: the quarterback is sacked, the ball is fumbled and the other team scores a touchdown. We are in big trouble. It's not for the faint-of-heart. It's still fun
The IHC Fundex 5600 is the newest and largest multifunctional foundation drill rig in Dutch equipment maker's line. This rig has a leader or mast that is 50 to (optionally) 56 meters in length (164-184 feet!). Amazingly, this huge mast can be erected by the machine itself without assistance from a crane. The rig can be used for drilling continuous flight auger or CFA piles, conventional drilled shafts, and driving precast concrete piles. You can find out more info at the manufacturer's IHC Fundex F5600 product page. Check out the drone video below of the rig after it rolled out of IHC's facilities. [Source: YouTube via DFI LinkedIn Group. Image: IHC Fundex]
This project video seems a few years old, but it's relatively new on YouTube and it's a fantastic case study of the slick method of installing groundwater interception trenches using DeWind's remarkable one-pass trenching technology. Hill Air Force Base in Utah had been using jet fuel ignited on a mock aircraft to train firefighters. The jet fuel had leached into the soil and was reaching the shallow aquifer. The DeWind technology was used to install a drainage trench to intercept the contaminated groundwater and pump it out for treatment before it reached the aquifer. This approach was several million dollars less costly than other alternatives they looked at. Project staff considered this method more likely to intercept the contamination than discrete wells spaced along the same alignment. [Source: DeWind YouTube. Image: YouTube]
Check out this massive pile foundation for a wind turbine at the 402MW Veja Mate offshore wind farm. It weighs over 1,300 tons (2,866 kips) and is 7.8 meters in diameter (25.5 ft) and 82.2 meters long (270 feet). The wind farm will consist of a total of 67 6MW turbines founded on giant monopiles like this. According to Offshore Wind, the Veja Mate OWF is located 95 km northwest from the island of Borkum in the German North Sea. When fully operational in 2018, the farm will produce over 1.6 TWh of electricity annually for 400,000 households in Germany. [Source: Offshore Wind. Image: Offshorewind.biz]
Geotechnical industry professionals are no doubt familiar with the awesome illustrations showing all manner of geotechnical construction methods and applications that are a unique part of Hayward Baker advertising and marketing. Without any fanfare, the iconic Hayward Baker calendar that features this artwork has celebrated a milestone of 20 years in 2016. It's so hard to explain to non-engineers what it is that geotechnical engineers do, all of our cool work is buried out of sight! This calendar is one of the best tools to show our expertise, it's a great service to our industry. On a personal note, I keep one hanging on my office door, and my 10-year old daughter even has one hanging on her wall, she says she wants to be an engineer when she grows up! Thanks Hayward Baker, and I look forward to another 20 years of great calendars! They have a great collection of 20 years of Hayward Baker calendar images over on their Facebook Page, check it out. [Source: Hayward Baker. Image: Hayward Baker Facebook Page]
Pile Dynamics has updated their SPT Analyzer system of hardware and software used to calibrate hammers used for the geotechnical engineer's bread and butter - the standard penetration test or SPT. The hardware itself has been updated with a multi-touch interface, new color scheme options, and 'Smart Sensor' technology that automatically reads the rod instrumentation so that sensor calibration and other information is automatically read by the SPT analyzer. The software to process the data has been completely re-written and the output is now more customizable. [Source: Read more about the latest updates in Pile Buck Magazine. Image: Pile Buck Magazine]
The following four short courses will be taught by Prof. Pinnaduwa Kulatilake in Tucson, Arizona in May 2016 as given below. Dr. Kulatilake was one of my professors at the University of Arizona during my geological engineering program. If you have always been meaning to learn some rock mechanics to add to your geotechnical skill set, these courses would be a very good option.