Held in Reno NV, March 23-25, 2012
Geotechnical engineering is the branch of civil engineering concerned with the engineering behavior of earth materials. It includes: investigation of existing subsurface conditions; determination of physical/mechanical/chemical properties of soil layers that are relevant to the design project under consideration; design of earthworks and foundations; and monitoring earthwork and foundation construction. Often, additional design issues relative to seismic loading may also be important.
A geotechnical engineer is responsible for the design of different types of foundations, retaining and earth structures and pavement subgrade. Foundations, which are an integral part of high-rise buildings and bridges, need to be economically designed and constructed. Retaining structures include retaining walls, mechanically stabilized earth, braced and tied-back cuts.
Earth structures include earth-fill dams, embankments, tunnels, dikes, levees, and hazardous waste and sanitary landfills. As behavior of base and subgrade significantly affect the pavement performance, assessment of their behavior under traffic loading is also important. In addition, topics such as soil-structure interaction, which focuses on the interplay between the structure and soil, is needed for safe designs.
Our mission is to educate undergraduate and graduate students to become leaders in geotechnical engineering practice and academia. We strive to provide a broad and diverse education that produces graduates who have a solid background in the fundamentals of the geotechnical field. Accordingly, our program has been designed to offer a comprehensive background in the core areas of geotechnical engineering and opportunities for graduate students to participate in research at the forefront of developments in the geotechnical field.
We strive to maintain a balance between research and teaching in our program. At the University of Nevada, Reno the geotechnical program strongly interacts with the pavement materials program. Geotechnical theory and practice, experimental and analytical techniques, and traditional and cutting edge topics are integrated within our research and teaching.
We offer a B.S. Civil Engineering degree with Geotechnical emphasis and a graduate program (M.S. and Ph.D.) in geotechnical engineering. Our graduates obtain an education that serves as a foundation for successful careers in geotechnical engineering practice or academia.
The geotechnical engineering laboratories and associated facilities reflect the program's emphasis on core subject material, as well as the breadth of research interests being pursued by the faculty. The graduate geotechnical laboratory is located in Harry Reid Engineering Laboratory building which also houses the large scale structural testing facility.
Existing testing capabilities include: Computer controlled stress path triaxial tests, a laminar soil box for use on the shake table, lab and field pile testing, and pavement materials testing.
The geotechnical engineering program at the University of Nevada, Reno has evolved over a period of years, which is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of its well-respected faculty members. By emphasizing a few selected topics the faculty has been able to remain vibrant and at the forefront of geotechnical engineering research and education.
Over the years the research focus has been in the following areas: behavior of deep foundations and retaining structures under static and seismic conditions; assessment of pavement vehicle-pavement interaction, soil liquefaction and remedial techniques. Two CEE geotechnical tenure-track faculty along with two research associates contribute to research and teaching in this field. Two pavement engineering faculty interact with the geotechnical faculty on a regular basis. In addition, there is cooperation with geological and mining engineering faculty from the University's Mackay School of Mines and Engineering.
M. Norris, Ph.D., P.E,
Research/outreach areas: Deep foundations; seismic foundation behavior; soil property characterization; liquefaction; faculty participant in summer engineering camp for grade school kids.
V. Siddharthan, Ph.D., P.E.
Research/outreach areas: Soil response under static and dynamic loading including liquefaction behavior; dynamic behavior of rigid and flexible retaining walls; dynamic pavement response to traffic; pavement materials characterization; effects of blast loading on saturated medium; wave loading on offshore slopes; transportation risk assessment studies.
Soon after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia, Canada, he joined University of Nevada, Reno in 1984. He developed a two-dimensional effective stress based computational model (TARA) to study seismic response evaluation of soil structures. A revised version of this computational model is being widely used by the Waterways Experiment Station (WES) in their seismic evaluation of many dams located around the country. The research contributions have been in many diversified disciplines, including, geotechnical-earthquake engineering, offshore engineering, and transportation engineering. He was responsible for research as an investigator in projects totaling more than $6 million. He has been involved in two independent seismic soil response verification studies: NSF-VELACS study and EPRI study. In the VELACS study, his code was used in a "verification" exercise using extensive laboratory-centrifuge test results.
In recognition of his research contribution, he was awarded the 1997 Shamsher Prakash Foundation Citation for work on Dynamic Soil-Structure Interaction and Stability of Retaining Structures under Earthquakes.
Dr. Siddharthan has authored more than 135 publications of which 66 are reviewed publications. Please visit the following URL: http://www.unr.edu/cee/staff/Siddharthan/siddharthan for more information. His work has been cited by over 200 publications.
Dr. Siddharthan has also been involved in a variety of consulting projects for a number firms located around the country and in Canada.
Elfass, Ph.D., P.E.
Research/outreach areas: Experimental and analytical studies of seismic performance of bridge foundations, soil-structure-interaction, pile and pile group response under axial loading; theoretical and experimental aspects of earthquake engineering and soil dynamics;, undrained soil behavior; soil liquefaction; and, application of computational science in engineering education. Faculty participant in COE K-12 outreach programs.
Jack Damean, Ph.D.
Bob Walters, Ph.D.
The Geotechnical faculty are active in several research programs. The specific research projects in geotechnical engineering vary widely from year to year, but the principal research areas are indicated by the interests of the individual professors as listed in their bio and personal webpage.
In evaluating a student's application to the geotechnical engineering graduate program, the faculty will consider all aspects of the student's credentials. This includes academic performance in their respective past programs, scores on entrance examinations (GRE and TOEFL, if applicable), references, and the applicant's stated goals.
Financial aid available to students ranges from full or partial Teaching or Research Assistantships. Most graduate students are supported by assistantships. Awards are made on the basis of scholarship and promise for outstanding achievement. The applicant's grade point average, score on the GRE and letters of recommendation are the primary means used for selecting new students to receive financial aid.
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Geotechnical Engineering Program
University of Nevada, Reno/0258
Reno, NV 89557-0258
Phone: (775) 784-6937
Fax: (775) 784-1390