Young Professionals Track



Prof. Neil Dixon | Monday 8:30 – 10:00 am
Global challenges, Geosynthetic Solutions and Counting Carbon

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.

Room: Americana 1 & 2

Session Chair: Neil Dixon

Neil DixonOur planet is experiencing unprecedented change: Population is increasing, resources are being depleted and the climate is changing. The global challenge is to provide an acceptable standard of living for all without using up natural resources and causing irreparable damage to the planet’s climate. The new United Nations program Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development came into effect in January 2016. This establishes 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which will guide the decisions taken by nations and organizations over the next 15 years. These include: ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all; building resilient infrastructure to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization; making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; and ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. Each country and region faces specific challenges in pursuit of sustainable development. A key driver for changing behaviour is climate change. At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Paris, a global agreement by 196 parties was made to set a goal of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial level by controlling anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The next stage is for the agreement to be made legally binding by countries in April 2016 and for the development, dissemination and adoption of practices that deliver sustainable development.

Against this backdrop of international agreements and goals, the geosynthetics industry has the potential to play a prominent role in providing solutions that help to deliver the vision of global sustainable development. The lecture will discuss the drivers for change in the way infrastructure is delivered and will challenge the geosynthetics industry to play a key role in reducing carbon emissions and dealing with the consequence of climate change. As an example, it will detail a framework for calculating embodied carbon of construction solutions that incorporate geosynthetics and in comparison to other solutions, and highlight the common pitfalls of such analyses.

Neil Dixon is Professor of Geotechnical Engineering in the School of Civil and Building Engineering at Loughborough University, UK, and he is academic leader for the cross University research challenge of Changing Environments and Infrastructure. He has been a university academic for over 25 years and has 34 years of experience in geotechnical engineering research and practice. He has authored over 150 refereed publications in the areas of geosynthetic applications, sustainable construction, landfill barrier design guidance, slope failure mechanisms, pore-water pressure regimes in slopes, in situ measurement of soil/waste properties, slope stability assessment, instrumentation development, slope process modelling and impacts of climate change. Professor Dixon played a leading role in the development of UK practice in waste containment system design through co-authoring the Environment Agency (England and Wales) reports on landfill stability, which are the basis for the current stability risk assessment permitting procedure. He has acted as a consultant on review of stability risk assessment permit applications and as a legal expert witness. Professor Dixon was an elected Council Member of the International Geosynthetics Society for 8 years and is a past Chairman of the International Geosynthetics Society, UK Chapter. Professor Dixon currently leads development of the acoustic emission landslide monitoring method using Slope ALARMS sensors. He heads the UK Climate Impact Forecasting For Slopes (CLIFFS) Network, is part of the Infrastructure Slopes: Sustainable Management and Resilience Assessment (iSMART) UK research consortia, and was a member of the Future Resilient Transport Networks (FUTURENET) project team. Professor Dixon has been awarded multiple prizes for publications and innovation

Room: Royal Poinciana 4

Session Chair: Glen Toepfer

Glen ToepferIn today’s world, cookie-cutter specifications are quite simple to piece together. Using any computer, a person can either modify an existing document that already has similar project specification, cut and paste specifications from an existing document into a current document, or cut and paste specifications from the internet. However, there are significant implications of cookie-cutter specifications, including the fact that they may be outdated, the person writing the specifications may have no idea what they actually mean, the specifications may actually lead to a lower-quality project, or the specifications may lead to constructability issues in the field. This panel discussion will include participants from each of the vendor segments typically found on a geosynthetics installation: the design engineer, manufacturer, installer, and construction quality assurance (CQA). Each of the members of this panel will have an opportunity to provide insight into areas in which current specifications are either too limiting or too broad to allow quality installations to be performed and ways in which those specifications financially impacts these projects.

Room: Americana 1 & 2

Session Chair: John McCartney

  • Study of flow through mechanical damages in PVC geomembranes under high hydraulic headsLucia Isabel Davila Cardona
  • Hydration of Geosynthetic Clay Liners for Use in AntarcticaDaniel Jones
  • Design of a calculation methodology and numerical simulations applied in bearing capacity improvement of geocell-reinforced soilsJose Orlando Avesani Neto
  • Geosynthetic-Reinforced Embankments on Soft Soils: Numerical Analysis of the Strain Mobilization in the Reinforcement during Cosolidation ProcessEdwin Fernando Ruiz
  • Geosynthetic Reinforcement of Buried Flexible PipesPaula Vettorelo

Room: Americana 1 & 2

Moderator: Brian Baillie

Brian BaillieThe purpose of this panel session is to discuss methods that could be used to promote and achieve greater use of geosynthetics by increasing geosynthetic education, developing function-oriented specifications and design procedures, and understanding cost and risk-reduction benefits that geosynthetics bring to projects. The session will start with short introductions by panel members on ways to increase geosynthetics use, followed by a 60-minute lively panel and audience discussion. The panel members are from academia, manufacturing, contracting, government agencies, and consulting and hail from throughout the Americas.


  • Stan Boyle, PhD, PE, Shannon & Wilson, Inc., USA
  • Flavio Montez, Huesker, Brazil
  • Max DePuy, Panama Canal Authority, Panama
  • Dean Sandri, PE, Oldcastle Architectural, USA
  • Jorge Zornberg, PhD, PE, The University of Texas at Austin, USA

Room: Cowrie 2

Session Chair: Ryan Berg

  • Geosynthetic Education Limitations within an Engineering College CurriculumBob Mackey
  • Evaluation of Geosynthetics in Transportation Applications using GeoTechToolsRyan Berg
  • Geosynthetic Education Limitations Within an Engineering College Curriculum — What are the Issues?