A melting pot of experts with research interests as diverse as geotechnical engineering, termite burrowing, tree physiology, granular physics and soft robotics trickled in from around the world in late May for the First International Workshop on Bio-Inspired Geotechnics. The NSF-funded workshop brought together 60 experts from engineering and science research, as well as industry, to foster dialogue and collaborations to better establish the field of bio-inspired geotechnics.
Trillions of cubic feet of natural gas are thought to lie in cold storage within Earth’s permafrost and under its oceans. That gas, however, is trapped within cage-like chemical structures called methane clathrates. Scientists are very interested in these structures, because they may have cousins hidden under the surface of the icy moons in the outer solar system.
Professor of the Practice Rudy Bonaparte received the American Society of Civil Engineering Geo-Institute’s highest honor in 2018 when he was selected to deliver the Karl Terzaghi Lecture. The Geo-Institute now has posted video of Bonaparte’s presentation.
Though they’re relatively rare, the consequences of disasters like earthquakes, flooding and landslides are dire — and growing. Just ask Jorge Macedo, who thinks a lot about the risks to people, communities and engineering systems from those kinds of extreme events.
In the next two decades, the world faces a yawning gap in the energy we produce and the energy we consume. The School of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Sheng Dai is working with the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy on one of the renewable sources that could help us make up ground: geothermal energy.
Just days after a major earthquake struck central Mexico in September 2017, Alejandro Martinez, MSCE 2012, Ph.D. 2015, found himself at the site taking vital measurements of the disaster. “It was a shocking day for everyone,” Martinez says.