In this episode, we talk to Anna M. Kotas, P.E., a technical sales and business development professional at GeoTesting Express (GTX), about how engineers can manage risk on geotechnical projects using quality laboratory testing programs.
Here Are Some of the Questions We Ask Anna:
- Why is good quality laboratory testing data important, and how can it affect the quality of a geotechnical design?
- What are some of the consequences of conducting poor or insufficient laboratory testing programs?
- What are the factors that may contribute to the occurrence of an error during laboratory testing?
- When laboratory testing parameters are misunderstood, how could they affect engineering projects?
- How can geotechnical testing help engineers to minimize risk on geotechnical engineering projects?
- What final piece of advice would you like to give the listeners today?
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Managing Risk on Geotechnical Projects Through Quality Laboratory Testing Programs:
- Good quality laboratory testing data starts with obtaining a good quality sample. A laboratory testing result is only as good as the sample you bring in for testing. You must have a well-thought-out sampling process and good sampling techniques before you go out to the field. The sampling process should consist of the preservation of the sample, its moisture, its orientation, and how to transport it to the laboratory. Delivering a sample that is as close to the original conditions as possible is the goal of the sampling process.
- Good quality laboratory testing equipment and trained individuals performing the testing are vital to getting accurate results. The individuals must have good knowledge of soil mechanics and the process of testing the samples. The entire process must be done quickly because it is a critical part of the designing process.
- Conducting poor or using insufficient laboratory testing programs will have its consequences. Having poor results will lead to having poor designs that cause the costs and the risks of the project to be higher. Poor understanding of laboratory testing programs is a big problem. Companies must allow their staff to learn about in-depth laboratory testing programs and how important they can be for a project. It will give them a better understanding of the values that will help them produce correct values for the projects.
- Incorrectly calibrated testing equipment will influence the test results. Human error plays a significant role in laboratory error. It includes having under-skilled people conducting the tests, errors in data entry, and calculation errors. Using more automated equipment can help reduce the human error factor in laboratory testing programs. Sample quality plays a significant role in the results when using automated equipment.
- Geotechnical engineering already has many risks when it comes to the unknown factors of the project sites, and everyone wants someone to be held accountable for any errors which arise. The associated risks of geotechnical engineering can be even higher than constructing the projects. Quality laboratory testing programs reduce the unknown factor risks by providing tangible and accurate information to be applied in your geotechnical designs.
- Always question and understand your data. Ask if you need more clarity, practice, or experience so that you can fully harness and use the data in your design.
More Details in This Episode…
About the Guest: Anna M. Kotas, P.E.
Anna is a technical sales and business development professional at GeoTesting Express (GTX). She has been with Geocomp/GTX for nearly five years and considers it the greatest professional honor to work for the renowned Dr. Allen Marr and his team of geotechnical and geostructural experts — the best geo professionals in the world. Combining her geotechnical knowledge and experience and love of interacting with people has turned into her dream job. She is a licensed professional engineer with 21 years of experience in the State of Virginia, where she resides with her family. She moved to the U.S. from Canada in 2000 after obtaining her B.S. degree in Geological Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan. Since then, she’s been living the American dream.
Throughout her career, she managed geotechnical projects from the earliest phases, including site recon, drilling, lab testing, analysis, and report preparation. She rose from the role of staff engineer to branch manager in 10 years, appreciating every lesson along the way — most importantly about effectively working with people. She believes her hands-on experience in the early years of her career, combined with her management roles, were invaluable to her current role as a BD and sales representative of a world-class geotechnical laboratory.
Anna loves to read, sometimes breezing through a book per day when she finds the right series. She loves making things with her hands, from sewing a wedding gown to building a wooden gazebo and one hundred other crafts in between. In addition to three teenage boys, she recently became a mama to an English Cream Golden Retriever that, she claims, just happens to be the smartest dog on planet Earth.
About the Host: Jared M. Green, P.E., D. GE, NOMA
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 has 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.
This Episode Is Brought to You by Menard USA
Menard 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 Group USA or for help on your next project, please visit https://www.menardgroupusa.com/.
Please leave your comments or questions in the section below on managing risk on geotechnical projects through quality laboratory testing programs.
To your success,
Jared M. Green, P.E., D. GE, NOMA
Host of The Geotechnical Engineering Podcast