UIC Department of Civil & Materials Engineering
Distinguished Lecture

Friday, April 9, 2010: 1047ERF, 3:00 pm

Prediction in Geoenvironmental Engineering:
How Good are our Models?

Craig H. Benson,
PhD, PE, DGE, F ASCE
Chairman and Distinguished Professor, Geological Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Abstract

Rapid increases in processing power, convenient graphical user interfaces, and the commercial availability of sophisticated 2D and 3D numerical codes have made detailed simulation of engineered geoenvironmental systems practical for many projects. Predictions made with these codes exhibit many of the nuances and perturbations evident in real systems that are stressed by temporally and spatially variable factors (e.g., rainfall or loads). However, these predictions can be very sensitive to the material properties input by the user, the boundary conditions that are applied, and the characteristics of the constitutive relationships that are selected. Comparisons between model predictions and field data are used in this presentation to illustrate the power of existing numerical models for geoenvironmental engineering, factors having significant impacts on the accuracy of predictions, and the importance of careful parameterization.

Bio

Craig H. Benson, PhD, PE, DGE is Wisconsin Distinguished Professor and Chair of Geological Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also serves as Director of the Recycled Materials Resource Center, a federally funded research center focused on sustainable construction of transportation infrastructure. Dr. Benson has a BS from Lehigh University and MSE and PhD degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. All degrees are in Civil Engineering, with the MSE and PhD degrees specializing in geo-engineering. Dr. Benson is a licensed professional engineer.

Dr. Benson has been conducting experimental and analytical research in geoenvironmental engineering for 25 yr, with the primary focus in waste containment, beneficial use of industrial byproducts, and sustainable construction. His research has included laboratory studies, large-scale field experiments, and computer modeling. He was Co-Principal Investigator for US EPA’s landmark study on final covers, the Alternative Cover Assessment Program (ACAP), and is Co-Principal Investigator for the NSF Bioreactor Partnership.

Dr. Benson has received several awards for his work, including the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation and the Distinguished Young Faculty Award from the US Dept. of Energy. Dr. Benson has also received the Huber Research Prize, the Alfred Nobel Prize, and the Croes (twice), Middlebrooks, Collingwood, and Casagrande Awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Dr. Benson is a member of the ASCE Geo-Institute (GI) and is former Editor-in-Chief of the ASCE/GI Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering. He currently serves on the ASCE/GI Board of Governors and the Executive Committee of ASTM Committee D18 on Soil and Rock. Dr. Benson is also a founding member of ASTM Subcommittee D18.14 on Geotechnics of Sustainable Construction. Dr. Benson is a member of the University of Texas Academy of Distinguished Alumni.