Young Professionals Program


GeoAmericas 2016 will continue the International Geosynthetics Society’s (IGS) strong support of young professionals, which focuses on students and younger professionals ( < 35 years old) who are engaged in geosynthetic-related engineering and research. Several events at GeoAmericas 2016 will provide career-shaping networking and development opportunities. These events will connect professionals and students from around the world with industry leaders and the larger geoengineering community.


This panel discussion will focus on career development considerations and strategies for young professionals. Topics of particular emphasis for the discussion will be the integration of business skill, marketing and salesmanship with technical skills. Although many young professionals are building upon technical skills learned in academia by working on new challenging topics, their career advancement often relies upon choosing a path (manufacturing, consulting, academia) marketing and salesmanship. However, there are many trade offs between focusing on technical details and sales, and balancing these may be challenging.

Mark SmithJacques CoteRichard Bathurst

The panelists include some of our industry’s most successful members. From the Engineering/Consulting community attendees will hear from Mark Smith, Founder of Vector Engineering and mining engineering specialist.  Mark’s successful career includes the development and sale of a world-renowned engineering firm. Through mentoring Mark has been also played an integral  role in the career development of a s some of our industry’s up-and-coming leaders.

From the manufacturing industry Jacques Cote, President and Founder of Solmax International will present his thoughts on career choices and development. As a regularly invited speaker/teacher for entrepreneurial education Jaqcues has  given a great deal of time and thought to  understanding the issues facing engineers and career development. Jacques’ personal success combined with this teaching experience will provide attendees a unique opportunity to ask questions relevant to their own development.

Dr. Richard Bathurst (BSc., MSc., Ph.D. 1986 Queen’s) is Professor of Civil Engineering at the Royal Military College of Canada where he has taught since 1980. He also holds a cross-appointment with the Civil Engineering Department at Queen’s University and is an Adjunct Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Waterloo and Edith Cowan University in Australia.

The panel discussion will involve short presentations on the perspectives of the panelists and will be followed by an interactive question and answer discussion with the audience.


A special session of IGS Chapters’ Student Award winning papers will be held during the technical program. Each chapter in the Pan-American region held a student paper competition and selected a winning paper, join this session to hear from tomorrows geosynthetic leaders and learn about their cutting edge research. Topics and authors include:

  • “Study of flow through mechanical damages in PVC geomembranes under high hydraulic heads”
    Lucia Isabel Davila Cardona
  • “Hydration of Geosynthetic Clay Liners for Use in Antarctica”
    Daniel Jones
  • “Design of a calculation methodology and numerical simulations applied in bearing capacity improvement of geocell-reinforced soils”
    Jose Orlando Avesani Neto
  • “Geosynthetic-Reinforced Embankments on Soft Soils: Numerical Analysis of the Strain Mobilization in the Reinforcement during Cosolidation Process”
    Edwin Fernando Ruiz
  • “Geosynthetic Reinforcement of Buried Flexible Pipes”
    Paula Vettorelo

This session has traditionally been very well attended, showcasing the energy and future of the geosynthetics field. GeoAmericas 2016 strongly encourages all IGS Young Professionals (and future Young Professionals!) to join the international geosynthetics industry in this forum.


The younger members group would like to invite all younger members to form teams to compete in a Geosynthetics Prediction competition focused on predicting the face displacement of a MSE wall constructed with poorly draining backfill material. The objective of the Geosynthetics Prediction competition is to develop an accurate prediction of the behavior of a geotechnical system involving geosynthetics given detailed information regarding subsurface, boundary, and initial conditions, as well as the geotechnical/structural/hydraulic loading. The Geosynthetics Prediction competition may involve using available geotechnical software, empirical correlations, or developing a simple but accurate computer code for making this prediction.

Competition Rules:

  1. Eligibility: A Geosynthetics Prediction team will consist of one or two younger members. There is no limit on the number of teams from a given institution or company.
  2. Submittal: Each Geosynthetics Prediction team will submit a Geosynthetics Prediction Report that will, at a minimum, contain the following information.
    1. The Report shall be no more than three (3) pages long (not including any references and cover page). One inch margins, single spacing, and 12 point Times New Roman font are required.
    2. The Report shall contain the methods (assumptions, correlations, analytical procedures, numerical procedures, computer software, etc.) that the team employed to develop their Geosynthetics Prediction. All methods must be properly referenced.
    3. The Report must include a plot of the face displacement as a function of height.
    4. The cover page (in addition to the 3 pages for the report) must include the name of the institution or company; names of the team members, email addresses, as well as the name and contact information of any supervisor or faculty advisor that assisted the team in developing their code and prediction.
    5. A reference list must follow the report.
    6. Submit the Report by 6pm Central Standard Time on March 4, 2016 to the following email address: Sender will receive confirmation of receipt by email. Late submissions may not be accepted.
  3. Judging: The submitted Geosynthetics Prediction reports will be judged and ranked by a panel of geotechnical engineers. The judging will be based on the criteria listed below.
    1. Format, length, grammar, English usage 15%
    2. Clarity of technical presentation 15%
    3. Logical and concise use of appropriate geotechnical methods and principles in developing Geosynthetics Prediction 25%
    4. Accuracy of the Geosynthetics Prediction 45%
  4. Announcement: The top three Reports will be ranked by the panel and will be presented with awards during the IGS awards ceremony at GeoAmericas 2016.
  5. Questions: Send any questions to

geoamericas2016_Geosynthetics-Prediction-Competition-figure1Problem Description and Available Data:
A geotextile-reinforced prototype mechanically-stabilized earth (MSE) wall was constructed using wrap-around facing with a width of 4m, a height of 4m and a length of 4m. The wall was built with 10 geotextile layers evenly spaced at 0.40m vertically. The reinforcement length was equal to 3.0m. The MSE wall was constructed atop a firm foundation that can be assumed to be rigid with first geotextile layer placed at the ground level. In the design, the reduction factors against creep, durability and installation damage were taken as 1.0. The wrap-around system was assembled using metallic supports and wood boards, for a final angle of 78° from horizontal, resulting in a face slope of 5V:1H. The geotextile material used in the wall was a short-fiber needle-punched polyester non-woven geotextile with the following characteristics:

  • Mass per unit area: 204.40 g/m²
  • Thickness: 1.26 mm
  • Ultimate tensile load: 8.5 kN/m
  • Ultimate tensile elongation: 90%
  • Elasticity modulus: 13 kN/m

Backfill soil consisted of a fine to medium well-graded sand which was compacted using a vibratory plate hammer. The grain size distribution of backfill soil is presented in Figure 1. The maximum and minimum void ratios, emax and emin were 0.70 and 0.46. The backfill soil was compacted to a target relative density of 80% which corresponds to a void ratio of 0.51 and dry unit weight of 17.7 kN/m³. The backfill was placed in the field at a gravimetric water content of 5.0%. The soil has a drained friction angle of 33°.

Estimate the deflections of the wall face as a function of wall height due to the wall’s self-weight immediately after construction.



Time: Monday, 11 April 2016 at 5:30 pm
What to wear: Beach clothes, sunscreen
While we are committed to keeping this schedule the same, rooms and times may be subject to change please check the final schedule on site.