La Société canadienne
de géotechnique
The Canadian
Geotechnical Society
La Société canadienne de géotechnique
The Canadian Geotechnical Society
The Canadian

Message from the President

A word from Mario - Un mot de Mario
 Mario Ruel, CGS President, Président de la SCG

Bonjour – Hello all my friends and colleagues

As I am writing these words, spring is popping up after a tough cold snowy winter. As a cyclist this is great, but for many of us in the geotechnical field, spring also means a lot of work with intense snow melting runoff, flooding, erosive river flows, slope instabilities and the softest ground conditions. This has always been my most intense period, opening the way to a busy construction season where we are implementing our design in the field, taking advantage of long days and warmer weather. For me practicing in geo-hazards and transportation, this has always been the most enjoyable part of the job, highlighting the importance of geotechnical engineering in our society.

As my second message as CGS President, I can tell you that I am more eager than ever to achieve our goals for the Society and its members. I am very impressed to see how much time and effort your new Executive Committee members are investing, as they are already running efficiently with their responsibilities. Time flies fast as the first quarter of our first year mandate is already behind us, but thanks to the guidance of our Executive Director, Michel Aubertin; Director of Communications and Member Services, Lisa McJunkin; Director of Finance and Administration, Wayne Gibson; and Communications Coordinator, Emily Fournier; we are on track and off to a good start.

Relations with Affiliated Organizations

During my term I am committing to actively representing CGS within other organizations. I participated at the last board meeting of the CSCE and intend to keep close ties with this Society by meeting their national office in Montreal and attending their next annual conference in Laval, QC, on June 12 to 15. As CGS President, I was also invited by the ASCE Geo-Institute to their Geo-Congress in Philadelphia in March. This was a very successful conference where I had the pleasure of working on some committees with our CGS`s Tim Newson, now North American VP ISSMGE. During this GI event I was very pleased to see our CGS past President and past Legget medalist, Dr Suzanne Lacasse, who had the honour of delivering a keynote address ‘Tribute to Ralph Peck and Observational method’. I am reporting that the GI will organize their next annual conference with our CGS in February 2020 in Minnesota. We are therefore taking advantage of our recent MOU, which was initiated by Dr Lacasse a few years ago and signed by the past President, Dharma Wijewickreme, last year at GeoEdmonton 2018.

CGS will also continue to develop closer and more frequent contacts with other associations such as the IAEG, where we will work with our Jean Hutchinson, who was elected VP for North America last year. Other opportunities of collaboration may also surface through our participation at the North American Geocoalition.

Engineering Institute of Canada

At the end of March, I had the honour of representing the CGS at the EIC Gala Awards dinner. The EIC provides some of the most respected engineering awards in Canada. I was very proud to see that, as per previous years, the CGS was very well represented with our members Suzanne Lacasse, Kevin Biggar, Jacques Locat and Doug Stead being awarded prestigious EIC Medals, while Jean Coté and Craig Lake were inducted as Fellows of the EIC. I want to mention that in addition to receiving the highest EIC award, the Sir John Kennedy Medal, Suzanne was also selected, earlier this year, to receive the title of Officer, Order of Canada, our country’s most prestigious service award. While the first geo-member of the Order of Canada was Robert Legget, Suzanne will be our 9th geotechnical representative and in my view, this is further evidence of the importance of geotechnique in our society.

The CGS is one of the most successful organizations within the EIC because we have been active in submitting high quality proposals highlighting the contributions of well deserving members. Please keep this in mind and make an effort to nominate your colleagues for the EIC awards and fellow this year. Consult the EIC site (eic-ici.ca) and make your submissions to the CGS before July 15, 2019.

Our Youth

As we focus more interest toward the new generation, I want to highlight the importance of the CGS Colloquium, created for young members in 1977. In 2016 the Colloquium Speakers were offered by the CGS and Canadian Foundation for Geotechnique (CFG) the possibility of doing a “Lecture Series” to deliver the presentation across Canada with focus on engaging students in Universities. This was an idea coming from the CGS Executive Committee and, as Kevin Biggar, President of CFG, put it to me when met at the EIC gala, “getting our best and brightest [young geotechs] in front of university students I think was a stroke of brilliance”.

The 2018 Colloquium speaker, Matt Lato, accepted the offer and got organized to deliver great presentations in Universities across the country in 2019. So far, the reception at the events has been very good and such dynamic contacts with both grad and undergrad students really opens up their interest and is a great contribution to attracting high quality talent in our business. Thank you, Matt, for accepting the challenge! The CGS is also thankful for the CFG assisting in funding the Colloquium Lecture Series. We are still looking at ways of improving this program to make it even more popular than ever.

On a similar front, I was glad to participate as one of the judges for the Branko Ladanyi contest in Montreal in early March. This annual event, organized since 2009 by the local CGS Section, saw 6 graduate students present their research projects. We saw very dynamic demonstrations by smart eager students on how to apply their findings in practice. Jonathan Mole from University de Sherbrooke won the competition and will receive support to attend the CGS Conference GeoSt.John’s 2019. Well done Jonathan and thanks to all others!

To further enhance our contact with students, Maraika De Groot, our Young Professional representative of the EC, is working on developing University Student Chapters as a pilot project this fall. This will be in addition to the CGS’s strong support for the next cYGEGC 2019, which will be held a few days before GeoSt.John’s 2019. The CGS VP Finance, Kent Bannister and myself are proud to have been invited to present keynote addresses by the organizing committee lead by Vincent Castonguay.

In upcoming messages, I will share more ideas and initiatives taken by the CGS toward our young geoprofessionals.

Cross Canada Lecture Tour (CCLT)

The CCLT Spring 2019 speaker, Prof. Charles Shackelford (Colorado State U.), should have completed most of his tour by the time this magazine is published. I am also really looking forward to seeing our next CCLT speaker, this fall Ian Moore (Queen’s University).

The Canadian Foundation Engineering Manual CFEM

The CGS EC made a firm commitment to show tangible progress on the CFEM. Let me provide a brief update. The CGS VP Technical, Rob Kenyon, informs me that work is well underway updating the Manual. The CGS has retained Ken Skaftfeld as the Manual Coordinator. Ken had been responsible for the Errata compilation of the 4th CFEM Edition. The goal is to release the next Edition of the Manual “online”. This will allow the CGS to deliver the manual gradually, chapter by chapter and will facilitate further updating. Ken, Rob and the Technical Advisory committee have completed a review of the proposed contents of the manual and chapter lead authors have been and will be approached. Please do not hesitate to contact Ken Skaftfeld (kskaftfeld@trekgeotechnical.ca) or Rob Kenyon (rkenyon@kgsgroup.com) if you are able to assist.

GeoSt.John’s 2019

We invite you to register for the 72nd CGS Annual Conference (GeoSt.John’s 2019) that will be held in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, from September 29 to October 2nd!

Why should you attend?

How to get permission to attend?
As a young engineer, I often used the above arguments to convince my boss to allow me to go to the CGS conference. This is an investment in the employees with an excellent ROI. To further justify, I was adding to be competitive, I had to sharpen my skills, find new methods, be more efficient, cut costs, and know latest tools to promote changes.
Show your boss and colleagues that you are pro-active as you check the program and say which sessions and training you plan to attend. You can then commit to demonstrate what you have learned by sharing with your colleagues in a post-conference presentation when you are back in your office. Planning in advance and registering early to take advantage of early bird savings and cheaper flights is another convincing argument.

The GeoSt.John’s 2019 Organizing Committee lead by Sterling Parsons has received over 435 abstracts, so the forecasted participation is looking very good. In addition to the technical value, the conference will provide a great opportunity to visit one of the oldest and most easterly cities in North America. I can guarantee that you will enjoy a unique experience with the super friendly people of St. John’s.

This is one conference you do not want to miss!!!

A bientot mes amis – See you later, my friends!!!

Mario Ruel