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Harnessing the Power of Geotechnical Engineering for Effective Pavement Design


In this episode, we talk with Prashant Patil, M.S., P.E., a Geotechnical Engineer at Gessner Engineering, LLC, about the intricate factors that shape effective pavement design recommendations.  We also dive deep into geotechnical investigation, and discuss some of the challenges geotechnical engineers encounter on projects.

Engineering Quotes:

Effective Pavement Design

Effective Pavement Design

Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Prashant:

  • Could you provide some details about the projects or activities your company is currently involved in?
  • Can you guide us through the crucial steps and methodologies in geotechnical explorations or investigations?
  • What specific challenges do geotechnical engineers commonly face when conducting investigations for pavement design?
  • With all the challenges and opportunities in geotechnical engineering, why wouldn’t everyone want to pursue a career in it, given its importance and the intriguing challenges it presents?
  • Can you explain how things like soil composition, geological conditions, and environmental factors affect the results of investigations and how they influence recommendations for pavement design?
  • What strategies and conditions are effective in places with extreme weather?
  • When working on pavement design projects that involve diverse structures like highways, parking lots, and airport runways, how do you adjust your approach to accommodate different load-bearing requirements?
  • How vital is it to collect crucial information from your client early on, rather than solely relying on assumptions?
  • How does sustainability factor into pavement design, and what role do geotechnical recommendations play in promoting environmentally responsible infrastructure development?
  • What upcoming trends and innovations do you foresee in geotechnical engineering pavement design that could significantly influence the industry in the future?

Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Harnessing the Power of Geotechnical Engineering for Effective Pavement Design:

  • Gessner Engineering, based in Texas for 20 years, is mostly run by women and works on a variety of projects like higher education and public works. What sets them apart is their focus on relationships over just hitting financial targets. They’re planning for the future, aiming for 2028 goals, and have a unique approach called the Gessner framework to improve their culture and leadership. It’s a great place for personal and professional growth in the field of geotechnical engineering.
  • Understanding geotechnical engineering is key in effective pavement design. It’s not just about the weight vehicles put on the road; there’s a crucial balance between upward and downward forces from soils. The process involves gathering data on traffic loads and expectations, conducting geotechnical investigations, and testing soil properties for strength. This ensures a solid foundation for the pavement. Weather conditions are also factored in to model and correlate soil conditions with pavement performance.
  • In geotechnical projects like pavement design, a major challenge is understanding and managing groundwater levels, which impact structural performance. Weather fluctuations during investigation and construction also pose challenges. In Texas, dealing with soils prone to high shrink-swell characteristics requires careful stabilization, often with lime, but introduces risks like sulfate-induced heave. Balancing these factors, including comprehensive testing and risk assessment, is crucial before diving into geotechnical investigations for accurate pavement recommendations.
  • In geotechnical engineering, particularly in pavement design, the challenge lies in finding the balance between upward and downward loading and shaping pavement recommendations. But with all the misconceptions, the field remains intriguing. For recent graduates, it’s puzzling why some individuals would hesitate to embrace the opportunities in geotechnical engineering.
  • In geotechnical engineering, especially in Texas, soil composition matters for pavement design. Shrink-swell soils need lime stabilization, while sandy soils may require cement. Factors like the California bearing ratio influence pavement thickness. Geological differences, like the presence of limestone, impact design in specific areas. Environmental factors, such as freeze-thaw conditions, add complexity. The varied conditions mean design approaches must be tailored, considering factors like temperature variations, making geotechnical engineering crucial for effective pavement recommendations and performance.
  • In considering various weather conditions, such as temperature fluctuations, groundwater variations due to rain, and freeze-thaw cycles, the performance of pavements, whether rigid with concrete or flexible with asphalt, is significantly impacted. To address these challenges, it’s crucial to ensure that the materials and soil conditions considered in pavement design are tailored to withstand these environmental loads. With climate change influencing long-term pavement performance, integrating these factors into geotechnical analysis becomes a key element in the overall design process.
  • In pavement design, it’s not just about the soil; vehicles play a significant role too. Whether it’s a parking lot or a highway, each pavement deals with different traffic loads. Tools like FPS or the Ashton method help us consider road type and estimate the weight the pavement will bear over time. The key is adjusting the design to handle specific traffic demands, ensuring it stays strong, whether it’s a road with 100 cars or a highway with 1,000.
  • Gathering data is crucial, and getting info from the client is a must. Geotechnical engineers need to know the type of traffic expected on a road or parking lot for informed decisions. This client-provided data ensures practical and relevant design parameters, avoiding assumptions that might not align with the project goals.
  • Geotechnical engineering is evolving towards sustainability by embracing recycled materials and eco-friendly cement in pavement projects. Geotechnical engineers are key players, adapting recommendations based on material properties to create environmentally conscious designs. Beyond traditional methods, exploring alternative resources, like adjusting layer thickness for stabilization, is crucial for sustainable solutions. Geotechnical engineers must stay informed and be proactive in this shift toward greener practices.
  • Geotechnical engineers are getting more eco-conscious, looking into different types of cement and recycled materials. Now, there’s a trend to consider how various weather conditions affect pavement design, and there’s also progress in enhancing soil quality. It’s a promising shift, and we can expect more research and advancements in creating sustainable geotechnical engineering practices.
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More Details in This Episode…

About the Guest: Prashant Patil, M.S., P.E.

Gessner Engineering, LLCPrashant Patil, M.S., P.E., is a Geotechnical Engineer at Gessner Engineering, LLC. He brings a wealth of experience in the civil engineering industry, with a strong background in gINT, Soil Stabilization, Soil Classification, and geotechnical investigations. Prashant holds a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Geotechnical Engineering from Texas A&M University, further solidifying his expertise in this field. His commitment to engineering excellence and his dedication to the geotechnical and geoenvironmental aspects of the profession make him a valuable asset to any project he undertakes.

About the Host: Jared M. Green, PE, D.GE, F.ASCE

Geotechnical EngineeringJared, originally from southwest Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduated from Syracuse University’s College of Engineering in 2001 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. He later attained his M.S. in Civil Engineering (Geotechnical Focus) from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Campaign, in 2002. In 2003, he began working in the New York City office of Langan. He has since become a Principal / Vice President and is one of the owners of this international land development engineering consulting firm. After 15 years at Langan, Jared moved to the Philadelphia office and is one of the geotechnical practice leaders in that office.

Jared is a consultant and team leader who also enjoys mentoring young engineers and first-generation college students. He has been instrumental in increasing the number of pre-college students who are interested in STEAM majors and fields. He strives to make complex engineering topics relatable and understandable to people new to the field and to people who are completely unfamiliar with engineering. Jared and his family currently reside in Flemington, New Jersey. He and his wife have three energetic, inquisitive, and awesome children. You can connect with Jared here.

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Sources/References:

Gessner Engineering, LLC.
Texas A&M University College Station
California Bearing Ratio (CBR)
Send Prashant Patil, M.S., P.E., an Email
Connect with Prashant Patil, M.S., P.E., on LinkedIn

This Episode Is Brought to You By:

Tensar

TensarTensar, a division of CMC, is a world-leading manufacturer and provider of ground stabilization and soil reinforcement solutions. Our innovative geogrid technology has benefited thousands of civil construction and engineering projects around the world for over 50 years. With our Tensar+ design software, you can design for higher performance and with greater confidence. Designers can export specifications that compare the benefits of Tensar geogrids with other soil stabilization methods. https://www.tensarplus.com

Menard

menardMenard USA is a specialty ground improvement contractor that works nationally providing design-build ground improvement solutions at sites with problematic soils. Menard works closely with civil, structural, and geotechnical engineers to minimize foundation costs for a wide range of soil conditions, structure types, and loading conditions. To learn more about Menard USA, or for help on your next project, please visit www.menardusa.com.

Please leave your comments or questions in the section below on how you can harness the power of geotechnical engineering for effective pavement design.

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To your success,

Jared M. Green, PE, D.GE, F.ASCE
Host of The Geotechnical Engineering Podcast



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