In this episode, we talk with Dr. Ronald B.J. Brinkgreve, a Distinguished Scientist in Geotechnical Engineering at Plaxis, and Micha van der Sloot, MSc, who manages the User Success group for Seequent Geotechnical Analysis, about a geotechnical engineering software product called PLAXIS, and how it is used to help solve common and complex geotechnical problems in soil and rock, including advanced analysis for excavations, foundations, tunnels, and other infrastructure projects.
***The video version of this episode can be viewed here.***
Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Ronald and Micha:
- Can you describe the beginnings and growth of Plaxis software, and elaborate on its impact in transforming geotechnical engineering practices?
- Can you share insights into the key challenges that inspired the development of Plaxis?
- What advantages does Plaxis provide to its users?
- How has your expertise influenced the scientific advancement of Plaxis and contributed to enhancing the software’s capabilities for geotechnical analysis?
- Could you provide specific success stories or case studies demonstrating the significant impact of Plaxis on geotechnical engineering projects?
- How do the User Success Group’s training and mentoring programs for Plaxis users contribute to advancing geotechnical analysis?
- How does Plaxis stay informed about industry changes, and what can users look forward to in upcoming innovations or updates?
- What advice do you have for aspiring geotechnical engineers navigating the dynamic landscape of the geotechnical engineering field?
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About How Geotechnical Engineering Software Transforms Infrastructure Projects:
- Plaxis started at Delft University of Technology from a late ’80s research project, as user-friendly geotechnical engineering software. It evolved from 2D to advanced 3D modeling, transitioning to a commercial entity before being acquired by Bentley in 2018. Now part of Sequin, Plexus contributes globally to infrastructure projects in a cloud-based digital twin environment, earning recognition for continuous innovation with the ISSMGE Outstanding Innovator Award.
- Plaxis started 30 years ago, transforming geotechnical engineering with advanced modeling at Delft University. They optimized designs using the growing power of personal computers, creating both software and a market by providing support and training. Since becoming a startup in 1993, their success thrived globally through a network of distributors and academic collaborations, ensuring continuous development.
- Plaxis empowers geotechnical engineers with user-friendly software, providing advanced modeling and soil behavior options. The interface supports automation through an API or Python scripting, and with a strong emphasis on education, Plaxis ensures efficient project execution, allowing engineers to focus on geotechnical work without software issues.
- In Plaxis development, constitutive modeling is vital for understanding how soil and rock react to stress in engineering problems. As models get more complex, Plaxis creates user-friendly tools for parameter determination. Educational initiatives, like courses and training, ensure users grasp the models, making advanced geotechnical analysis accessible.
- Plaxis has influenced global geotechnical projects by collaborating with academic institutions. Achievements include optimizing designs for the Tuen Mun Check Lap Kok Link tunnel, showing cost savings, and reducing CO2 emissions. Plexus’s versatility is seen in projects like undersea tunnels ensuring economic, sustainable, and safe construction. Geotechnical professionals and tools like Plaxis play a pivotal role in these milestones.
- Plaxis focuses on helping users truly understand soil mechanics for effective geotechnical engineering, not just operating software. Tailored training sessions, like one for a major engineering consultancy firm, speed up users’ proficiency with Plexi software. Plaxis remains in constant interaction with geotechnical challenges, ensuring it addresses users’ future needs for ongoing success.
- Plaxis adapts to the data-driven infrastructure industry. It integrates seamlessly, supporting global projects and staying updated through academic partnerships. Looking forward, Plaxis explores how artificial intelligence and machine learning can enhance user benefits in contemporary projects.
- Infrastructure design now relies on integrated, data-driven methods, with Plaxis seamlessly integrating into Bentley’s ecosystem. Collaborating with academics keeps Plaxis ahead, exploring AI and machine learning. Emphasizing practicality and understanding user needs, ongoing interaction with geotechnical engineers aligns with Bentley Sequence’s vision for city digital twins. Regular feedback ensures user-friendly solutions for real-world challenges.
- Young geotechnical engineers must find impactful opportunities in the field. Embrace innovation like machine learning. Learn fundamentals, use modern software tools, and explore rewarding paths in research and development, especially for those in software development. Stay curious, keep learning, and recognize geotechnical engineering’s crucial role in crafting safe urban spaces for the growing population.
More Details in This Episode…
About the Guests:
Dr. Ronald B.J. Brinkgreve
Dr. Ronald B.J. Brinkgreve is a part-time Distinguished Scientist – Geotechnical at Plaxis BV, part of Seequent – The Bentley Subsurface Company. In this role, he is an advisor and initiator of geotechnical software-related research activities. In a previous role, Ronald was Director of Geotechnical Research at Bentley Systems in Delft, The Netherlands, and manager of the Competence Centre Geo-engineering. In this position, he was responsible for the technical and scientific quality of the Plaxis geotechnical finite element software, which is used worldwide in numerical analysis and design of geotechnical applications. Besides his current position at Seequent, Ronald is a part-time Associate Professor at the Geo-Engineering section of the faculty of Civil Engineering & Geo-Sciences at Delft University of Technology. He gives courses on constitutive modeling and numerical methods and supervises MSc and PhD students working on their research projects.
Ronald graduated in 1989 from Delft University of Technology with an MSc degree in Civil Engineering (specializing in geotechnics) and obtained his Ph.D. degree from this university in 1994 on the thesis “Geomaterial Models and Numerical Analysis of Softening”. After obtaining his Dr.-degree, Ronald joined the newly founded Plaxis company. In 1997 he was asked to become a part-time lecturer at Delft University, which has evolved into his current position of Associate Professor.
As a researcher, Ronald has contributed to the scientific developments of the Plaxis software and has published many papers on the use of constitutive models and numerical methods in geotechnics. As a lecturer, Ronald has been involved in several international courses and in-company training on the backgrounds of the Plaxis software, constitutive models, and numerical methods.
Ronald maintains a large international network of contacts at universities, institutes, and industry. He has participated in various boards and committees. In the period 2007-2010, Ronald was a board member of the National Geotechnical Society of the Dutch Royal Institute of Engineers (Kivi Geotechniek). In the period 2009-2014, Ronald was been member of the NAFEMS Geotechnical Committee and is the author of the book “Validating Numerical Modelling in Geotechnical Engineering”. As of 2006, Ronald is a member of the European Regional Technical Committee on Numerical Methods (ERTC7) and co-organizer of the NUMGE 2014 conference in Delft. As of 2015, Ronald is a member of the Working Group 1.6 Numerical Methods of the German Geotechnical Society (DGGT). In 2022, the Plaxis team (which Ronald has been actively part of since the early days) was awarded the ISSMGE Outstanding Innovator Award.
Micha van der Sloot, MSc
Micha van der Sloot, MSc manages the User Success group for Seequent Geotechnical Analysis (PLAXIS and GeoStudio) and is based in Delft, The Netherlands. Micha joined the PLAXIS team in 2004 (almost 20 years ago). He now leads a worldwide team of geotechnical and numerical experts to empower PLAXIS and GeoStudio users to advance their geotechnical analyses and -challenges using the Limit Equilibrium Method (LEM) and the Finite Element Method (FEM) via support services, training and mentoring. Micha is also involved in teaching at online events, workshops, and courses about the application and background of geotechnical numerical modeling.
Micha earned his Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Delft University of Technology.
About the Hosts:
Jared M. Green, PE, BC.GE, F.ASCE
Jared, originally from southwest Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduated from Syracuse University’s College of Engineering in 2001 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. He later went on to attain 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.
Nick Heim, P.E.
Nick Heim, P.E., is a civil engineer with six years of experience in the repair and restoration of existing structures, and host of the AEC Engineering and Technology Podcast (“AECTECH”), where he brings valuable insights and expertise to listeners worldwide.
Nick’s interests lie at the intersection between the built world and technology, and he can be found looking for the ever-changing answer to the question, “How can we do this better?” Nick can be found on LinkedIn, producing content about the use of technologies in his civil engineering career and small business.
Delft University of Technology
University of California Berkeley
ISSMGE Outstanding Innovator Award
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure Conference
Connect with Dr. Ronald B.J. Brinkgreve on LinkedIn
Connect with Micha van der Sloot, MSc, on LinkedIn
This Episode Is Brought to You by Tensar
Tensar, 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
Please leave your comments or questions in the section below on how you have experienced geotechnical engineering software transforming your infrastructure projects.
To your success,
Jared M. Green, PE, BC.GE, F.ASCE
Host of The Geotechnical Engineering Podcast