Minutes of the USUCGER Board Meeting: July 16, 1997
Held during GeoLogan'97, First Conference of the ASCE Geo-Institute
at the Utah State Student Center, Logan, Utah).
prepared and submitted by Paul Mayne, Secretary
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Board members in attendance:
Mehmet T. Tumay, President Sandy Houston, Board Member (former sect.)
Tom Zimmie, Past President Frank Townsend, former board member
Rich Finno, Treasurer Loren Anderson, former board member
Paul Mayne, Secretary Tunce Edil, former board member
Bill Kovacs, Member At-Large
(Note: Deborah Goodings on sabbatic in U.K.)
Additional attendees included: Peter Smealie of the Geo-Council; Dr. Ray
Krizek of the GeoInstitute & Prof. Northwestern Univ.; Dr. Priscilla
Nelson/GeoInstitute and Program Director/NSF; and Albert DiMillio of the
Federal Highway Administration.
The meeting was called to order by Dr. Tumay at 07:05 a.m. to discuss four
primary topic areas: (1) USUCGER becoming a possible member of the
Geo-Institute; (2) ongoing challenge of ASTM "Standards" issue by ASFE and
the Geo-Council; (3) funding and utilization of the National Geotechnical
Experimentation Sites (NGES); and (4) prospectus for holding an upcoming
1. Dr. Ray Krizek (Northwestern University) was introduced as the new
incoming president of the ASCE Geo-Institute. The Geo-Institute (GI) is
requesting that USUCGER become a member of the GI. During his term, Dr.
Krizek indicated that the GI was posing the question "Where do we go as
profession?" and would like USUCGER to be a partner in formulating the path
and direction of the GI. A timetable of about one year was established for
discussing the prospect of USCUGER joining the GI. In a note of
clarification, it was asserted that USUCGER is already a member of the
newly-established GeoCouncil which is an organization of organizations.
Discussion ensued on several major changes happening at ASCE; notably the
official establishment of the Geo-Institute (and Structures-Institute) in
October 1996 that gave "semi- autonomous" control for the Geotechnical
Division. A significant turnover in ASCE staff is expected in September
1997 which is the deadline for closing the New York office in the final move
to the new ASCE headquarters in Reston, Virginia. It was noted that USUCGER
could assist the GI in the development of research and education and that
USUCGER's strength is in its networking capabilities. Concerns raised by
Drs. Zimmie and Townsend were, if USUCGER became a member of GI, that no
double taxation was paid by universities and that the USUCGER identity would
remain intact. Dr. Krizek indicated that USUCGER would pay no dues in order
to be a member of the GI (at least in the initial development years).
The GI desires to use Geotechnical News (BiTech Publishers, Vancouver) as
their medium for hard-copy communication to members. However, ASCE is
against this since it is not an ASCE publication. Another issue is the fact
that Geotechnical News is sent only to members of the U.S. National Society
(USNS) of the International Society of Soil Mechanics & Foundation
Engineering (ISSMFE). Of the 7000+ geotechs in the U.S., only some 3000 are
USNS-paying members (Note: USNS membership is only additional $20 fee paid
with current ASCE membership). A mandatory membership in USNS as part of
the Geo-Institute membership has been proposed before. Of particular
interest was the fact from Dr. Krizek that USNS currently holds
approximately $250k in funds from its membership.
In the event that USUCGER became a member of the GI, the need to establish
a liaison might follow one of the following: (a) GI assign member to sit in
on USUCGER meetings (nonvoting rights); (b) a USUCGER member (nonvoting)
would attend GI meetings; or (c) a contact member between the two
organizations would be chosen. Such matters would be further discussed by
the USUCGER board and members with a reply back to Dr. Krizek at a later date.
2. Peter Smealie of the Geo-Council explained the position of the ASFE
Coalition, called "Advocates for Professional Judgment in Geoprofessional
Practice", in re-acting to negotiate with ASTM on their "Standards", or more
correctly "Standard Guides". An alternative proposed by ASFE is to term the
guides as "Compilation of Best Practices". In several recent contract
litigations, reference to ASTM "Standards" have been cited as mandatory.
A three-page press release briefly describes the issue which formally
opposes the promotion of prescriptive standards in professional geotechnical
practice. ASTM has not been cooperative in seeking to ameliorate the
situation. The coalition includes 11 associations including: Geo-
Institute, Geo-Council (again, which USUCGER is a member), ASFE, AEG, ADSC,
and others. Dr. Tumay re-iterated the support of the USUCGER board to the
Geo-Council/ASFE stance on this issue. Smealie hopes to work with ASFE in
resolving the ASTM difficulties, primarily for Committees D-18 and E-50, and
to establish rules of negotiation.
3. The National Geotechnical Experimentation Sites (NGES) were established
with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA) to promote and enhance geotechnical research in the
U.S. A total of 77 possible test sites were listed across the country,
with 5 sites selected and funded for management and administration services
for about 8 years now. Recently, the FHWA, under Albert DiMillio, re-newed
the funding of the 5 major NGES locations. However, NSF has not re-newed
their support. It was noted that published data from the sites (e.g., ASCE
GSP 23 and GSP 41) has been used for purposes of education, coursework, and
research for case study examples.
What can USUCGER do to promote and encourage the utilization and success of
the NGES? A short questionairre will be prepared by President Tumay, with
input from the board members, and issued to the USUCGER membership.
Concerns were voiced that the current NGES database, while offering
consistency in data format and filing, is incomplete in the amounts of
information, data, and digital materials that are offered. One
consideration was to place the NGES under the control of either USUCGER or
the Geo-Council to enhance its position as a tool in education and research.
4. Under a USUCGER proposal submitted in fall of 1996, a 3-year grant has
been awarded by NSF to support a workshop for USUCGER members to discuss
education and research issues. The funds are allocated primarily to
subsidize travel costs for representatives from the 77 current university
members of USUCGER to the workshop. This follows from two prior workshops
held at Univ. of Houston in March 1987 and Univ. of Texas/Arlington in March
1991. These workshops were successful in unifying the membership and
establishing benchmarks for teaching, coursework, and research areas in the
geotechnical areas. Specific recommendations for the workshop, location,
timetable, and agenda are to be decided at the next USUCGER board meeting.
It was suggested (Edil) that we address the R&D agenda established by the
initial GeoEngineering workshop (CERF Report #94-5020) held in Leesburg,
Virginia in 1994.
5. A special webpage is being established by Dr. Tumay that can only be
accessed by paying USUCGER members. The website will be linked to the
current USUCGER homepage that is maintained by Dr. Roman Hryciw at Univ. of
6. The USUCGER-sponsored Plenary Session 5 at the GeoLogan'97 conference
was a successful event that drew a full auditorium at an evening session
(see Bulletin following minutes).
7. Elections for new officers of USUCGER have been postponed until
Sept/Oct. 1998 to put the events back on schedule. Tunce Edil volunteered
to put together a 1-page write-up on the election process.
8. Treasurer's Report from Rich Finno: Current assets in the USUCGER
Univ. of Wisconsin (prior NSF award) $ 4,000
Northwestern Univ. (Current NSF grant) $ 55,000
Checking account $ 12,178
Certificate of Deposit $ 20,000
Total Assets $ 91,178
9. A proposal for adding the Opelika Test Site in Alabama to the NGES
(managed by Dr. Dan Brown of Auburn Univ.) was made by P.W. Mayne. No
detailed discussion on the matter was held at this time.
10. The next USUCGER board meeting will take place during the annual
convention of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in Washington, D.C. in
January of 1998.
Report on the USUCGER SESSION AT GeoLogan'97
PLENARY SESSION 5: Research Responsibility - Who?
On Wednesday evening, July 16, 1997, USUCGER sponsored a special plenary
session on "RESEARCH RESPONSIBILITY - WHO?". With the advent of the
Federal government reducing their funding for R&D in the United States, the
big question is "Who is responsible for funding basic and applied
research?". A panel of disguished speakers from government, academe, and
industry gave perspective viewpoints on the issue, followed by an open forum
with questions from the 300+ audience. The talks were presented by:
U.S. Senator Jake Garn, Utah (retired), and former shuttle astronaut for
NASA, and former mayor of Salt Lake City, UT.
Dr. G. Wayne Clough, President of the Georgia Institute of Technology and
Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Atlanta, GA.
Dr. Priscilla P. Nelson, Acting Senior Engineering Advisor & Program
Geomechanical, Geotechnical, & Geoenvironmental Engineering, National
Science Foundation, Arlington, VA.
Dr. Neil Williams, engineering consultant and former president of GeoSyntec
Consultants, Boca Raton, FL
Presiding Officer: Dr. Charles C. Ladd, Professor of Civil Engineering,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA
Moderator: Dr. Frank Townsend, Professor of Civil Engineering, University
of Florida,Gainesville, FL