Small Research Grants

2020-2021: Geotechnical Education Modelers, Dr. Fawad Niazi (Purdue University at Fort Wayne)

This project was funded through cost-sharing between USUCGER ($5,000), Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT) at PFW ($2,500) and the Civil & Mechanical Engineering (CME) Department at PFW ($4,000). This was a two-year project on which two student design teams worked with diligence and devotion to build a set of Geotechnical Education Modelers, and design and test different processes involved in the soil structure interaction. These modelers will go a long way in serving towards improved student understanding of different concepts taught in the introductory soil mechanics and foundation engineering classes, and to also offer more opportunities of Senior Design projects as well as research to the undergraduate students in the future. Here are links to the two parts of the Students’ Senior Design Presentation on the Geotechnical Education Modelers (GEMs) that we developed here at Purdue University Fort Wayne. The students named those as GEMs because of their invaluable potential in creating excitement among students in the Geotechnical Engineering Profession.

GEMs Project – Purdue University Fort Wayne – Part 1:

GEMs Project – Purdue University Fort Wayne – Part 2:

2017-2018: Soil Magic 2.0: Creation of a library of in-class demonstration activities to create ‘aha moments’ in geotechnical engineering classrooms, Dr. Hoyoung Seo (Texas Tech University)

The project team developed eight classroom activities for live demonstrations and visual illustrations of geotechnical principles/concepts to create ‘aha moments’ for students. Each demonstration activity was recorded with a high-definition camera and compiled into a whiteboard-style animation video. The completed instructional videos, referred to as Aha Moment Videos, were uploaded onto YouTube for public access. Along with the Aha Moment Videos, a corresponding learning module was developed for each activity. The learning modules may be considered as lesson plans to be used by instructors intending to conduct the prepared demonstrations in a classroom setting. Find activity directions and final report here. Videos for each activity shown below.

Summary of demonstration activities developed for this project.

Activity Name


YouTube Link

A-1. Slope stability – A sliding cup

Slope stability against a planar failure

A-2. Playdough revival

Clay-water interactions

A-3. The Magic wand

Shaft resistance of deep foundations

A-4. Can you bear it?

Bearing pressure; Bearing capacity;
Terzaghi’s shallow foundation failure mechanism

A-5. A sweet tube

Sampling of granular materials

A-6. Reinforced soil

Mechanically stabilized earth walls

A-7. Are you active or passive?

Lateral earth pressure; Mohr circle analysis

A-8. Water race

Hydraulic conductivity

2016-2017: Creation of a Library of Group Activities that Promote Active Learning in the Undergraduate Soil Mechanics Classroom, Dr. Kristin Sample-Lord (Villanova University) and Dr. Gretchen Bohnhoff (University of Wisconsin-Platteville)

A “grab-and-go” set of education geotechnical activities with Word/PDF files to allow for instructor editing. Sixteen different activities were developed with the help of undergraduate students at both VU and UW-Platteville. The materials for each activity include: (1) a summary sheet for the instructor with learning objectives and instructions; (2) the activity handout to provide to the students; (3) the solution set; (4) an example rubric for the activity; and (5) supplemental information, if applicable. All files are provided in Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and/or PDF formats to allow for easy editing. The required in-class time for the activities ranges from as short as one to two minutes to 50 minutes, to allow for flexibility in implementing the activities in existing courses. All of the activities are meant for small informal groups. The recommended number of group members ranges from two to five, allowing for use in a range of class sizes. The activities also vary widely in their format (e.g. “typical” quantitative problems, group jigsaws, concept questions/discussion, group presentations, calculation QA/QC) to complement different teaching styles. Please provide feedback regarding this set of activities in a brief survey.

Access to the Password-Protected Executable File.

2014-2015: geotech: Development of a geotechnical engineering software package in R, Dr. James Kaklamanos (Merrimack College)

In this project, we composed a geotechnical engineering software package within the statistical language and environment R. The software package, aptly named geotech, has the capability to perform a range of geotechnical engineering computations, and is freely available for use in the geotechnical engineering field. An additional benefit of R is the wide availability of add-on user-contributed software codes, referred to as “packages,” which perform calculations in specific areas of study. The geotech package is a compilation of functions for performing calculations and creating plots that commonly arise in geotechnical engineering and soil mechanics, and is the first R package to provide broad coverage in this area. The types of calculations that are currently included are: (1) phase diagrams and index parameters, (2) grain-size distributions, (3) plasticity, (4) soil classification, (5) compaction, (6) groundwater, (7) subsurface stresses (geostatic and induced), (8) Mohr circle analyses, (9) consolidation settlement and rate, (10) shear strength, (11) bearing capacity, (12) lateral earth pressures, (13) slope stability, and (14) subsurface explorations. Geotechnical engineering students, educators, researchers, and practitioners will find this package useful. For additional information, please visit and, and refer to the project final summary report and presentation.