seal  Purdue News

June 2, 2003

Purdue civil engineers form new society

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University has founded a new society for researchers and engineers who specialize in geotechnical engineering, a field that deals with building structures on top of and within earth, soil and rock.

Such knowledge is important for designing a structure's foundation, other general construction purposes and to learn precisely how a building will react during earthquakes.

The Purdue Geotechnical Society was officially founded on May 22.

"The society will enhance the strong bond and working relationships among alumni, faculty, students and staff of the geotechnical engineering group at Purdue University," said Vincent P. Drnevich, a professor in Purdue's School of Civil Engineering.

Purdue's legacy in geotechnical engineering began during the 1940s. Since then internationally respected experts in the field – A.G. Altschaeffl, M.E. Harr, G.A. Leonards and C.W. Lovell – have taught at Purdue, attracting top students from around the world, said Marika Santagata, an assistant professor of civil engineering.

Lovell and Leonards both have recently been honored with two new lecture series in their names. Harr, another distinguished civil engineering professor, delivered the first G.A. Leonards Lecture the same day the society was announced.

"All of these men were giants in geotechnical engineering," Santagata said.

About 100 engineers from around the world attended the talk by Harr, a professor emeritus of civil engineering who, in 1958, became Leonards' first student to earn a doctoral degree in the field. Harr is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

The faculty in Purdue's geotechnical group include Drnevich, Santagata, assistant professor Antonio Bobet, associate professor Philippe Bourdeau and associate professor Rodrigo Salgado.

Membership in the new geotechnical society is free, but members are encouraged to contribute through the School of Civil Engineering to the G.A. Leonards Graduate Fellowship and honoraria for the G.A. Leonards and C.W. Lovell lectureships. Members also are encouraged to support student professional activities.

Member benefits will include access to research papers, reports and other technical literature; contact with students for co-ops and summer internships; and opportunities for collaborative research.

More information about the society is available at

CONTACTS: Drnevich,, (765) 494-5029,; Santagata, (765) 494-0697,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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