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Making waves in geotechnical engineering: 8th Leonards lecture by Dr. Richard D. Woods and Purdue Geotechnical Workshop honoring professor Vincent P. Drnevich

Highlights from the 8th edition of the Purdue Geotechnical Workshop and 8th Leonards Lecture that took place on Saturday May 1, 2010 on the Purdue campus. This year's PGS workshop is entitled Making Waves in Geotechnical Engineering, and is intended to celebrate the career and accomplishments of Professor Vincent P. Drnevich, who retired in May.

The Purdue Geotechnical Society is pleased to announce the 8th edition of the Purdue Geotechnical Workshop and 8th Leonards Lecture that will take place on Saturday May 1, 2010 on the Purdue campus. This year's PGS workshop, is entitled Making Waves in Geotechnical Engineering, and is intended to celebrate the career and accomplishments of Professor Vincent P. Drnevich, who will be retiring in May.

Dr. Richard R. Woods (left) and Prof. Vincent P. Drnevich (right)

The workshop will kick off on the morning of Saturday May 1 with a Keynote Lecture by Dr. Kenneth H. Stokoe II - Professor and Jennie C. Milton  T. Graves Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas, Austin - on Use and Interpretation of Seismic Methods in Characterizing Sites for Nuclear Power Plants and High-Level Radioactive Waste Facilities.  The keynote will be followed by 13 shorter talks, on a wide range of wave related topics (see for complete program).

As in previous years the Leonards Lecture - in honor of Professor G.A. Leonards, a Purdue geotech faculty member from 1946 to 1991 and a great of the geotechnical engineering profession - will conclude  the workshop. The 8th Leonards Lecture, traditionally the highlight of the PGS program, will be offered this year by Dr. Richard D. Woods, Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan, who will be talking about Ground Settlement from Pile Driving.

Dr. Woods, a world known expert in the field of foundation dynamics, vibration measurements, vibration damage, dynamic soil properties, seismic site characterization, and application of geophysics in geotechnical engineering, received his BS and MS degrees from Notre Dame and his Ph.D. (1967) from the University of Michigan. Dr. Woods has a lifetime of service to many technical and professional organizations.  Among them are: Chairman of the ASCE Geotechnical Engineering Division, President of the U.S. Universities Council on Geotechnical Engineering Research (USUCGER), President of the Environmental Engineering Geophysical Society, Vice President for North America of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, and Chair of the International Activities Council of the Geo-Institute of ASCE.  He gave the 1997 Terzaghi Lecture and was named an Honorary Member of ASCE in 2004. Dr. Woods, like Jerry Leonards, shares with six other previous Leonards lecturers the distinction of being a member of the National Academy of Engineers.

It is especially fitting that Professor Woods present this year’s Leonards Lecture, as he and Professor Vincent Drnevich were classmates first at Notre Dame and then at Michigan.  Dr. Drnevich left Michigan upon the completion of his PhD, to join the faculty at the University of Kentucky, where over 24 years he progressed through the academic ranks, did a four-year term as Department Chairman, and served as acting Dean of Engineering for a year.

In 1991, he was recruited to Purdue University as the Head of the School of Civil Engineering, a position that he held until June 2000.  Some highlights of that tenure include: filling the Goodwin, Kettelhut, Olson, and Rieth Distinguished Professorships, instituting faculty retreats, founding the Civil Engineering Advisory Council, forming the Civil Engineering Student Advisory Council (CESAC), dedicating the Kettelhut, Pankow, Olson, and Burke Undergraduate Hydraulics laboratories, and securing the Kresge Challenge Grant.

At Purdue, he has taught courses in geotechnical engineering, soil dynamics, experimental methods, professionalism and ethics, and senior design (each spring since 2001).  His passion for and experiences in the signature course of the School are documented through multiple publications about it and an endowment for it which he and his wife established.

Dr.  Drnevich’s research focuses on the engineering properties of soils and concrete, especially as measured by stress wave and electromagnetic wave propagation.  His earlier research focused on the development and use of the resonant column test and quasi-static torsional shear test to accurately measure soil properties. Over fifty students have received graduate degrees with him as their advisor or co-advisor.

Vince Drnevich has been recognized for both his teaching and research by a number of national awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers (Huber Award and Norman Medal), the American Society for Testing and Materials (Hogentogler Award and Woodland G. Shockley Award), the American Society for Engineering Education (George Wadlin Award), and Chi Epsilon (Harold T. Larson Award and the James M. Robbins Award).  He is active in many professional and technical organizations including the American Society of Civil Engineers (he is a Fellow, Life Member, and Distinguished Member), the American Society for Engineering Education, the American Society for Testing and Materials (Fellow), the National Society of Professional Engineers, and the Indiana Society of Professional Engineers of which he is a past President. In 2009, he was awarded the Diplomate of Geotechnical Engineering (D.GE) by the Academy of Geo-Professionals. He is a licensed professional engineer in Kentucky (inactive) and Indiana.  In 2008, he was appointed by the governor to the Indiana Board of Registration for Engineers.

Support for the PGS workshop and Leonards lecture is provided by the following sponsors: School of Civil Engineering,  Earth Exploration, Fugro Consultants, Nicholson Construction (Gold); Haley & Aldrich, Hayward Baker (Silver); Alt & Witzig, Golder Associates, Parsons Brinckerhoff (Bronze).





Additional information on the Leonards lecture and the PGS workshop, as well as registration information for the latter, can be found at

For more information contact Cathy Ralston (