What is geotechnical engineering? Well, in technical terms, it's a subset of civil engineering that deals with the behavior of Earth materials, such as soil and rock, and their interaction with infrastructure. So, what does that mean? Essentially, if you plan to construct virtually anything, such as a roadway, retaining wall, or a building, it will have to be built over some form of soil and/or rock material, and that is where geotechnical engineers come into the picture.
We're typically involved at the start of projects to perform subsurface investigations, most often comprised of test pits and soil borings, to evaluate the challenges you may encounter during design and construction, such as weak soils, expansive clays, and sinkholes, to name a few. However, our involvement does not end there, as we should be onsite during the construction phase to oversee earthwork operations and perform inspections and material testing of backfill compaction, concrete, masonry, and structural steel. Our job is to be the problem solvers during the construction phase because when unforeseen circumstances occur (usually due to a lack of thorough investigation) and bring operations to a halt, the geotechnical engineer is called upon for guidance to get your project moving again in a cost-effective manner. Ultimately, geotechnical engineers will likely become involved in your project at some point. The question is whether to involve us before construction starts to ensure you're prepared for what's underground or when you need to solve a problem that could have been avoided with proper due diligence. I highly recommend the former!