Geotechnical/Soil Engineer

“Unfortunately, soils are made by nature and not by man, and the products of nature are always complex… As soon as we pass from steel and concrete to earth, the omnipotence of theory ceases to exist”.  Karl von Terzaghi*

Geotechnical/soil engineers investigate the soil and bedrock below proposed building sites to determine their engineering properties and how they will interact with the planned construction.  They determine and design the type of foundations, earthworks and pavements required to withstand the pressures resulting from the man-made structures to be built.

Geotechnical engineers design foundations for such structures as high-rise buildings, bridges and medium to large commercial buildings and may also work on smaller structures where soil conditions present challenges.  They design structures to be built in soil or rock, including tunnels, embankments, earth dams, channels, reservoirs, and hazardous waste landfills.

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* Karl von Terzaghi (1883-1963) is widely considered the father of soil mechanics and geotechnical engineering. He started modern soil mechanics, “Erdbaumechanik”, with his theories of consolidation, lateral earth pressures, bearing capacity, and stability.