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Knowledge Development and Transfer in Geotechnical Engineering

When Sep 27, 2017
from 06:00 PM to 09:00 PM
Where Queen’s Building, Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Contact Name
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Event overview:

Two of the most prominent names in geotechnical engineering will present and discuss their thoughts and experience regarding knowledge development and transfer in geotechnical engineering.

- How is knowledge created in geotechnical engineering?

- What is the role of industry and academia in developing knowledge?

- How can we effectively transfer established knowledge between organisations and institutes?

An extended discussion will follow the presentations, chaired by Professor Giulia Viggiani (University of Cambridge). We encourage people to submit questions for the discussion in advance, please email

The event will conclude with a drinks and nibbles reception. The event is free to attend but registration is required:

Deadline for registration: midday Friday 22nd September



Nick O’Riordan: 

Civil, and its slightly younger offspring Geotechnical, Engineering is, at its best and most enjoyable, a team sport. Unlike most sports each project is unique (the ball changes shape and size, sometimes there is no ball, the pitch changes during the match and so on), it generally has a long timeline from concept through delivery to use, and team membership changes all the time. So how do we provide the confidence and desire to innovate to a project team so that clients and stakeholders are delighted rather than dismayed?

My presentation will provide examples of geotechnical knowledge development and transfer at various levels of scale: global/regional, country, company, project, individual. It will set out some of the challenges and differences in priority that exist in industry and academia in knowledge development, transfer and application. It will include ways in which inverse analysis, data analytics and curation, and artificial intelligence can improve outcomes and reduce loss of knowledge and confidence.

Professor Malcolm Bolton:

Academics hope to develop radical ideas. Practitioners hope to solve practical problems. Working together, they may secure both. Three examples are introduced with quite different origins, each represented by a Geotechnique paper: Bolton (1986) The strength and dilatancy of sands; Take & Bolton (2011) Seasonal ratcheting and softening in clay slopes, leading to first-time failure; Bolton & Whittle (1999) A non-linear elastic perfectly-plastic analysis for plane strain undrained expansion tests. Each development faced, and still faces, some challenging hurdles.


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