Protecting U.S. embassies against terrorist attacks was the subject of this year’s Osterberg Memorial Lecture presented by Jean-Louis Briaud. Manager of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI’s) Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Program, Briaud also holds the Spencer J. Buchanan Chair in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University.
Known worldwide for his engineering expertise, Briaud presented “Impact Tests to Protect Embassies against Terrorist Attacks” on July 11 at the Deep Foundation Institute’s Annual Congress in Columbus, Ohio. The annual Osterberg Memorial Lecture is named after Dr. Jorj O. Osterberg, a pioneer in the field of geotechnical engineering.
Briaud presented the summary results of the first phase of his research at TTI that examines how deep into the ground bollards, or posts, should be placed to stop a seven-ton truck going 50 miles per hour.
Calling Osterberg a giant in geotechnical engineering, Briaud says he was honored to give this year’s memorial lecture. “I had the distinct pleasure of meeting him in 2001,” Briaud recalls. “His claim to fame was the invention of a load-test device, which changed the way deep foundation tests are conducted.”
Briaud has also agreed to present several other lectures over the next few months, including the Louis Menard Lecture in Paris, France, to the International Conference of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering on September 2. This international lecture is named after Menard, who made many contributions to in situ (in place) testing and soil improvement. Selected to present after a worldwide search, Briaud will talk about his work on the very tool that Menard invented, “The Pressuremeter,” which is also the title of Briaud’s book on the topic.
He will also present the opening lecture for the 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)-Texas Section Fall Conference in Dallas on September 11. Briaud’s ASCE lecture will be entitled “Raising the Bar in Geotechnical Engineering.” In it, he will compare geotechnical engineering techniques with the story of Dick Fosberry, the 1968 Olympic high-jump champion who revolutionized his sport with his “back-first” high-jump technique, despite being told it would not work.
On October 11, Briaud will present the opening keynote lecture at the ASFE/Geoprofessional Business Association Conference in Boston. The presentation is entitled “Geotechnical Risk: What is Acceptable?” Risk is the product of the probability of occurrence of an event (failure, for example) occurring times the value of the consequence. Briaud compares geotechnical risk to risk in our daily lives (including death in cars and airplanes) to recommend an acceptable value in geotechnical engineering: 0.001 fatalities per year and $1,000 per year are his answers.