The North American Chapter of the
International Geosynthetics Society

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IGS-NA

5 Questions with IGS Council Candidate Jacques Côté

Jacques Côté is the founder and serves as Chairman of the Board at Solmax, the largest geosynthetics manufacturing group in the world. Mr. Côté helped establish the IGS Foundation in 2019 and currently  is running for a new, full four-year term on the Council now.

IGS North America encourages all members to actively participate in the IGS Elections, which are open for voting into mid-June. If you cannot locate your ballot invitation, please contact IGS office, igssec@geosyntheticssociety.org. 


As you seek a second term on the IGS Council, what are you proudest of with the IGS from the past four years?

Jacques CoteThe achievement that I am most proud of over the past four years was gaining from the IGS Council an approval for the establishment of the IGS Foundation in 2019. To date, the mission of the IGS Foundation is to support educational initiatives capable of understanding and promoting the appropriate use of geosynthetic technology throughout the world, thus enabling a reduction of our carbon footprint for the benefit of humanity. This mission fully supports the IGS mission statement that is “To provide an understanding and promote the appropriate use of geosynthetic technology throughout the world.”


After decades spent building your company, what inspired you to focus on IGS Council service and helping launch the IGS Foundation?

Giving back for me was my way of saying thank you for what I received. From a professional and human point of view, the geosynthetics industry has brought me a lot. Now was the time to give back to this great industry, so the main goal is to protect our world today for the benefit of future generations.


Are there specific endeavors you hope the IGS Council puts a stronger focus on in next Council cycle?

I believe that a major effort must be put on greater involvement of all IGS members in the realization of the vision of their Society. For my part, I would like to work to bring together Corporate Members to obtain their collaboration in the achievement of the IGS sustainable development vision with regard to the use of geosynthetic products in applications for the reduction of greenhouse gases. This endeavor will preserve the quality of life for our future generations. It would also be important to emphasize the promotion of all the services and tools that the IGS has developed over the last few years and which are not used enough by the people and organizations who need them most, because many of them do not know that these resources exist.

Finally, I believe that it is important to have a strong link between the IGS and the IGS Foundation to ensure a harmonious alignment of these two entities toward the future. I am certainly the person who could fulfill this role!

What exciting opportunities do you see coming for the geosynthetics field in the next few years?

What I see in the next few years is a significant increase in the use of geosynthetics for two main reasons. The first is for cost reasons: applications using geosynthetics can replace large volumes of natural materials, thus making the purpose of a project more economical. Secondly, for environmental reasons: the use of geosynthetics allows the preservation of our natural resources and makes it possible to reduce the carbon footprint in the realization of our infrastructure projects. Moreover, in the years to come I also see great efforts that will be employed in our industry to innovate. In this respect, we have at my own company a group of dedicated people so the raison d’être is to find disruptive technologies in relation to the use of geosynthetics both from a products and applications point of view.


All superheroes have an origin story. How were you introduced to geosynthetics?

My dream when I was an engineering student in Canada was to do international cooperation and more specifically to build roads in Africa. At the end of my studies in 1978, I was offered the opportunity to work in a small manufacturing company (TEXEL) which manufactured non-woven products, therefore a new product called geotextile. They needed a young engineer to do the technical and commercial representation of this new product. My first geotextile initiator was Jean-Paul Drouin, a mentor who introduced me to the technology of needlepunched nonwoven products and marketing techniques for these products. On the other hand, I was far from my dream of adventure of going to build roads in distant countries. In July of the same year, I had the chance to attend a conference in Manchester, UK on geotextiles and their applications. This is where I met my second initiator. During this conference there was a presentation made on the subject by the ‘young and dynamic’ Dr. Jean-Pierre Giroud from the University of Grenobles. I was impressed by the clarity and eloquence of his talk on the functions of geotextiles and the obvious advantages of using these new materials in civil engineering infrastructure applications. My conclusion was immediate: I’m in the right industry!

There is a lot to do and I like challenges. My third and fourth initiators were Dr. André Rollin from the Polytechnic School of Montreal who had Bob Denis as a master’s student. These two persons allowed me to evolve in the learning of geosynthetic technology. They have been apostles and builders of our industry.

Finally, today I can confirm to you that I made the right decision to make a career in this beautiful industry that is geosynthetics. I have never built roads in Africa but I have supplied geosynthetics to build them and installed thousands of square meters of them during my years on construction sites all over the world. In the end, however, I succeeded in realizing my adventurer’s dream.


THE 2022 “5 QUESTIONS” SERIES FOR THE IGS ELECTIONS

5 Questions with IGS Council Candidate John McCartney

John McCartney, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE is Professor and Department Chair at the University of California – San Diego, Department of Structural Engineering. He is a former President of the North American Chapter of the International Geosynthetics Society and is now running for IGS Council. In addition to his work with IGS North America, Dr. McCartney is very active with other engineering organizations.

IGS North America encourages all members to actively participate in the IGS Elections, which are open for voting into mid-June. If you cannot locate your ballot invitation, please contact IGS office, igssec@geosyntheticssociety.org. 


Did your time in leadership with IGS North America inspire your interest in seeking an IGS Council position?

Yes, I was inspired by working with colleagues from across North America to promote geosynthetics engineering principles and research, and to serve as the learned society for geosynthetics in the region. I had the pleasure to meet many people and work toward a common goal with colleagues from industry, manufacturing, and academia, and that is what I am looking forward to if I am elected to serve on the IGS Council.


What are some things you’d like to see the IGS Council focus on in the next four years?  

I think that there are opportunities to encourage more interaction between the different chapters and with other organizations around the world. The regional conferences are excellent, but I think that the Council could encourage more smaller workshops—focused topics to bring people together from different chapters and different organizations like ISSMGE, ASCE, and ASTM International: emerging research, practical applications, standards, etc. These workshops could lead to special issues of the society journals, Geosynthetics International and Geotextiles and Geomembranes.  Although the pandemic taught us how face-to-face meetings are ideal, it also gave us new tools to interact globally through webinars and virtual panels.

I would also like to contribute to continuing the expansion of the IGS Digital Library. Index more past proceedings in an open access format. Archive more videos and webinars from the different chapters, encouraging the establishment of and linking to their YouTube Channels.  


You chair the unsaturated soils committee with the ASCE Geo-Institute, and you just ran an energy geotechnics conference. How do these endeavors outside IGS inform your interactions with geosynthetics? 

I have been fortunate to work on a variety of research topics in my career, but I always look for ways to incorporate geosynthetics as they are very versatile tools to augment the behavior of soils. For example, energy geotechnics is my current passion, and I have been working on incorporating geothermal heat exchangers into reinforced soil slopes to help dry poorly draining backfills, and to integrate heat exchangers into prefabricated vertical drains to improve soft clays using thermal consolidation. There are of course new challenges when proposing new applications like this, but solving problems is exciting. I think that both the unsaturated soil mechanics and energy geotechnics fields are still expanding and there are still many ways that geosynthetics could be used.

You hosted an Educate the Educators (EtE) event (La Jolla, California 2019). What’s the state of geosynthetic engineering education in civil engineering programs today?

I think that most undergraduates are introduced to the concept of geosynthetics and their different applications. However, there are many required courses in an undergraduate curriculum and there are also many topics to cover in an introductory geotechnical engineering course. We have a short overview of geosynthetics in our introductory soil mechanics course, then show some applications in a ground improvement course. It really isn’t until the graduate level that we are able to go into depth on analyses and designs involving geosynthetics. The Educate the Educators events are great ways to give educators materials that they can directly integrate into their courses. As the MS degree becomes more and more important for starting in geotechnical engineering practice, we may want to make graduate course content a focus of future Educate the Educator courses. At both the undergraduate and graduate levels, I think having prepared presentations on case histories of the different applications of geosynthetics, going from a problem in the field, to the analysis and design, to construction in the field with possible instrumentation, would really be helpful for students.

If elected to the IGS Council, I would be excited to work with practitioners to build case histories like this that could be shared with students to give them a tangible feel for how geosynthetics can be used to solve problems.

All superheroes have an origin story. How were you introduced to geosynthetics?

I started getting involved with research during my undergraduate at the University of Colorado Boulder, and first started working on structural reliability. This led me to take a course on fractals in hydrology and I was inspired by patterns in clay cracking. The professor of this course introduced me to Professor Jorge Zornberg in the last year of my undergraduate, who introduced me to geosynthetic clay liners. Professor Zornberg shared a large database of GCL shear strength data from his time at Geosyntec that were performed by Rob Swan and his colleagues. I was very excited to integrate my background in probability and statistics with clay deformations to understand the many variables affecting GCL shear strength, and this got me started on my research career. I decided to continue working for my PhD with Professor Zornberg on the interaction between unsaturated soils and geosynthetics and have been having fun with geosynthetics since.



THE 2022 “5 QUESTIONS” SERIES FOR THE IGS ELECTIONS

IGS-NA Awarded 13th International Conference on Geosynthetics

The 13 ICG launch logo

Every four years, the International Geosynthetics Society (IGS) convenes the International Conference on Geosynthetics (ICG). The ICG is a major technical and commercial exchange in the geotechnical engineering field, drawing leading practitioners, producers, and researchers from around the world. IGS North America is proud to announce that it has been chosen to organize and host the 13th International Conference on Geosynthetics (13 ICG) in Montreal.

The conference and exhibition will be held at the Palais des congrès de Montréal from 13 – 17 September 2026.

“This will be the first time the ICG will be delivered in Canada,” says IGS North America President John Allen, PE. “We are honored to have been selected by the IGS Council to organize the event in such a major center of research, manufacturing, and design.”

The bid was selected on April 7 by the voting members of the IGS Council, following virtual presentations by three competing IGS Chapters. The IGS has 44 international chapters and 4000 members. Their geotechnical insight and material innovations are utilized in every major sector of civil engineering and contribute to significant improvements in infrastructure service lives, environmental protection, and society in general.

“We chose the theme ‘Legacy, Evolution, and Revolution’ to reflect how scientific and engineering progress is achieved through clear understanding of where the field has been and what is required of it in the future,” says Dr. Ben Leshchinsky (Oregon State University), who will serve as co-chair of 13 ICG alongside Villanova University’s Dr. Kristin Sample-Lord, PE.

Leshchinsky will begin his term as IGS North America’s President in 2023.

“When we talk about future needs and how geosynthetics are involved, we’re talking about much more than new designs and solutions for roads or water resource management,” says Dr. Sample-Lord, the Vice President – University Outreach for IGS North America. “It’s also about how we train the next generation of engineers. It’s about diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s about how geotechnical practice improves society.”

The initial topics selected by the chapter to center the 13 ICG program are transportation infrastructure; climate change, natural disaster mitigation and response; and energy and mining. The bid was supported by endorsements from the ASCE Geo-Institute, leaders of ASTM Committee D35 on Geosynthetics, the GeoEngineering Centre at Queen’s-RMC, the Geosynthetic Institute, and other major organizations.

The chapter will begin assembling the event organizing committees and announcing further conference and exhibition details soon.

About IGS North America

The Mission of IGS North America is to provide leadership in advancing geosynthetics education and research to attain their appropriate and widespread use as engineering materials as the Chapter of the International Geosynthetic Society (IGS) for the United States of America and Canada. The chapter hosts webinars and in-person events and its members serve as leaders in all geotechnical engineering sectors, such as waste management, sustainability, environmental protection, coastal resilience, and mining. Learn more at www.igs-na.org.

About the International Geosynthetics Society

The International Geosynthetics Society (IGS) is a learned society dedicated to the scientific and engineering development of geotextiles, geomembranes, related products, and associated technologies. IGS is a global community of 4,000 members including corporate, individual, and student members, with a shared passion for how geosynthetics can make a fundamental contribution to meeting societal challenges through sustainable technological and engineering solutions. Learn more at www.geosyntheticssociety.org.

About the Palais des congrès de Montréal

The Palais hosts over 350 events each year. As a major hub of activity in Montréal, it generates significant economic, social and cultural benefits for the tourism, business and research industries. The Palais is a trailblazer in the industry and works hand in hand with local strategic partners as well as young, highly innovative start-ups gathered under the name Events Lab. As a leader in sustainability and social practices, it was one of the first convention centers in the world to operate a carbon-neutral building. The Palais is widely known as a proud supporter of emerging talent, the arts and community-based initiatives and is an innovative and resolutely forward-looking partner. Visit https://congresmtl.com.

Call for Nominations – IGS North America Board of Directors

We are excited to call for nominations for candidates stand for election to serve on the next IGS-NA Board (2021-23). The Mission of IGS-NA is to provide leadership in advancing geosynthetics education and research to attain their appropriate and widespread use as engineering materials as the Chapter of the International Geosynthetic Society (IGS) for the United States of America and Canada.

If you are interested in helping to develop the programming, services and leadership offered by IGS-NA, I encourage you to consider standing for office.

Seats open for the upcoming election are:

  • 1 Seat – President Elect, Each new President-Elect shall serve one 2-year-term of office in that capacity following which he/she shall serve one 2-year-term as President, followed by one 2-year-term as Past-President. As President-Elect, the successful candidate will be responsible for assisting the President and performing assignments directed by the President and/or Board.
  • 1 Seat – Treasurer, The Treasurer will serve a 2-year-term. The Treasurer is responsible for managing the finances of IGS-NA.
  • 2 Seats – Vice-President, Vice-Presidents will serve a 4 year term. Vice-Presidents are responsible for representing Members of IGS-NA and performing assignments directed by the President and/or Board.

The successful candidate will join President-Elect John Allen, Vice Presidents Ben Leshchinsky and John Lostumbo, and Past-President John McCartney to lead IGS-NA.

Important Dates & Deadlines

August 30 to November 15, 2020 – Call for Nominations
December 15, 2020 to January 10, 2021 – Election by electronic ballot
February 21 to 24, 2021 – Newly elected Board Members will take office at the next General Assembly of the IGS-NA to be held during Geosynthetics Conference 2021.

To nominate someone else or yourself please email the requested information to Info@IGS-NA.org.

Please include your: name, title, company/institution/organization name, address, email address & phone number as well as 150 word description about your involvement in the geosynthetics industry and your reason(s) for running for the seat. Please also include one photo of yourself. Nominees must a Member in good standing of IGS-NA at the time of submission of the nomination.

If you have any questions or need more information please contact the Chair of the IGS-NA Nomination Committee and Past-President Richard Brachman (brachman@queensu.ca).

Educate the Educators 2019 – Call for Applications

IGS-NA’s Educate the Educators on Geosynthetics: Call for Applications
UC San Diego – December 9-10, 2019
As the Learned Society for geosynthetics in North America, IGS North America (IGS-NA) is pleased to call for applications to Educate the Educators 2019. This is a focussed, 2-day, specialized training event where leading experts and educators will equip college and university Professors to teach geosynthetics at their schools. Participants need only to pay their travel costs to La Jolla California. Funding from industry, the International Geosynthetics Society and the Members of IGS North America will be used to run the event and host our participants. For additional details, please visit: Educate the Educators 2019

FREE December 4 Webinar on Geosynthetic-Stabilized Roads

On December 4, Dr. Jie Han (University of Kansas) will present the next IGS North America webinar. His topic: “Recent Developments in Geosynthetic-Stabilized Roads: Introduction and Mechanisms.” The free event is part of the new IGS North America – GMA webinar series. Time for the presentation will be 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST.

REGISTER NOW

December 4 Webinar - Geosynthetic-Stabilized Roads Webinar

GEOSYNTHETIC-STABILIZED ROADS

Geotextiles, geogrids, and geocells have been used widely in roadway stabilization works throughout the world. In this webinar, Dr. Jie Han will deliver an introduction to geosynthetics in roadway engineering. His presentation will focus on the mechanisms involved in geosynthetic stabilization of unpaved and paved roads. Dr. Han is one of the leading practitioners in this area of geosynthetic design and research, and his work has contributed significantly to field understanding on how we can improve soil mechanical properties with geosynthetics and how these design decisions may involve two different functions/mechanisms—reinforcement and stabilization—which depend on geosynthetic/soil properties and loading conditions. The webinar will illustrate the differences and relationships between reinforcement and stabilization by geosynthetics in roads and discuss the selection of proper geosynthetics for specific applications based on controlling mechanisms.

Dr. Jie Han is the Glenn L. Parker Professor of Geotechnical Engineering in the Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering Department at the University of Kansas. He has nearly 30 years of teaching, research, and practical experience in geotechnical and pavement engineering focused on geosynthetics and ground improvement. Dr. Han has authored more than 300 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers as well as the text Principles and Practice of Ground Improvement.

Date: December 4
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST
Cost: Free

REGISTER NOW

Ben Leshchinsky Leads November 1 GMA-IGS North America Webinar

Ben Leshchinsky

Dr. Ben Leshchinsky

On November 1, Dr. Ben Leshchinsky (Oregon State University) will present the next IGS North America webinar. His topic is one of the biggest topics in the field right now: “A Different Approach towards Limit State Design of Geosynthetic-Reinforced Soil Structures.”

This online event is FREE to industry professionals and students. It’s part of a new series of webinars jointly hosted by the Geosynthetic Materials Association and IGS North America.

LEARN MORE AND REGISTER

Date: November 1
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST

ABOUT THE NOVEMBER 1 WEBINAR

Conventional design of geosynthetic-reinforced soil structures is divided into two categories, walls and slopes, based on the batter of the facing system. Internal stability, characterized as sufficient reinforcement anchoring and strength, is performed using earth pressure-based design criteria for reinforced walls, while reinforced slopes are founded on limit equilibrium (LE) slope stability analyses. LE analyses are also used to assess the global or compound stability of both types of structures, accounting for the geometry of the reinforced, retained, and foundation soils.

A Different Approach towards Limit State Design of Geosynthetic-Reinforced Soil Structures

The application of LE-based methods typically results in determination of a slip surface corresponding to the lowest attained Safety Factor (SF), known as the Factor of Safety (Fs); however, it yields little information about reinforcement or connection loading. In this presentation, Dr. Ben Leshchinsky will show how the use of the analyzed spatial distribution of SF (known as a Safety Map) can be modified to attain a prescribed constant Fs at any location in the reinforced soil mass. This modified framework directly enables the determination of a Tension Map that illustrates the required distribution of reinforcement tension to attain a prescribed state of equilibrium. To illustrate the utility of the Limit State framework, a series of instructive examples will be presented. The results of this design approach demonstrate the effects of facing elements, closely-spaced reinforcements, and secondary reinforcement layers. Comparison will also be provided to conventional design approaches.

Ben Leshchinsky, Ph.D., P.E. is an associate professor in geotechnical engineering at Oregon State University. His primary research interests focus on slope stability, reinforced soil, and applications of geomechanics towards assessment of natural hazards.

LEARN MORE AND REGISTER

IGS North America 2019 Photo Contest Is Now Open

The IGS North America 2019 Photo Contest is open to all members of IGS North America. The contest will be open 1 October – 15 December 2018. First, second, and third place winners will be announced in February during the IGS North America General Assembly held at Geosynthetics 2019 in Houston, Texas.

Click on the pictures below to view the 2017 winners.

Take advantage of this great opportunity to demonstrate geosynthetics in action!  All entries should include a photo title, description, and photo credit.

  • Photos should clearly display a geosynthetic type/function in use
  • Photos should provide a clear understanding of what geosynthetic type/function or event is being demonstrated
  • Contestants must be an IGS-NA member in good standing

Contest photos will be used to promote the exemplary work of the geosynthetics community, raise awareness of the importance of your expertise, and add to the beneficial dialogue between professionals and the larger engineering community. Credit to the winning submissions will be given. Promote your work. Promote your field.

Submit photos here.  Thank you for your participation in the 2019 Photo Contest!

If you have questions about the IGS-NA Photo Contest, please contact info@igs-na.org.

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Not a member? Join now, gain access to valuable engineering resources (such as the official journals of the International Geosynthetics Society), and share your work through the photo contest! 

IGS North America 2019 Elections – Call for Nominations

The Mission of IGS North America is to provide leadership in advancing geosynthetics education and research to attain their appropriate and widespread use as engineering materials in the United States and Canada. We encourage all members interested in playing a larger role in leadership and program and service development to consider standing for office with IGS-NA.

Nominations for the following seats are accepted through 30 September 2018:

1 Seat – President Elect. Serves one 2-year-term of office in that capacity followed by one 2-year term as President and an additional 2-year term as Past-President. As President-Elect, the successful candidate will be responsible for assisting the President and performing assignments directed by the President and/or Board.

2 Seats – Vice-President. Serves a 4-year term. Vice-Presidents are responsible for representing Members of IGS-NA and performing assignments directed by the President and/or Board.

To nominate someone or yourself, email info@IGS-NA.org.

Please include the nominee name, title, company/institution/organization, address, email, and phone. Also, please include a 150-word description about the nominee’s involvement in the geosynthetics industry and reason(s) for running for the seat. Please also include a photo of the nominee.

IGS NORTH AMERICA 2019 ELECTIONS IMPORTANT DATES

  • 1 – 30 September 2018 – Call for Nominations
  • 1 – 15 December 2018 – Election by electronic ballot
  • 19 – 21 December 2018 – Successful candidates notified. Announcement made.
  • 10 – 13 February 2019 – Newly elected Board Members take office at the IGS North America General Assembly, to be held in Houston, Texas during Geosynthetics 2019.

QUESTIONS?

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact the Chairman of the IGS-NA Nomination Committee and Past-President John Henderson (j.henderson@tencategeo.com).

Educate the Educators 2019 – San Diego, California

Following IGS North America’s successful Educate the Educators (EtE) event in Kingston, Ontario (December 2017), plans began towards the next gathering. Educate the Educators provides training and educational materials to professors from across North America to enable them to offer state-of-practice geosynthetics education to their students. In Kingston, 35 professors took part, adding to the 40+ who gained the introduction in Austin, Texas in 2015.

In 2019, IGS North America will again facilitate another EtE. San Diego, California has been identified as the next site.

IGS North America would like to thank its 2017 Diamond Event Sponsors: CETCO, Solmax/GSE, and TenCate.  Sapphire Event Sponsors were Agru, HUESKER and Thrace-Linq.

IGS-NA would like to recognize the 2015 EtE Sponsors too.  Remaining funds from the 2015 event were used to support the 2017 event as well.  Thank you to GMA, Geosynthetic Institute, TenCate, ECTC, Presto, GSE, HUESKER, Thrace-Linq and TRI Environmental.

Plans for the 2019 EtE San Diego will be updated at our members meeting in Houston this February at  Geosynthetics 2019.