Skip navigation

2015 PGS Workshop & 13th G.A. Leonards Lecture

April 24, 2015 - 4:30 p.m.
Purdue University, Krannert Auditorium, West Lafayette, IN

Karl Terzaghi (1883-1963), Geotechnical Engineer and Founder of Soil Mechanics

Video of Lecture

Richard E. Goodman, PhD, NAE

Professor Emeritus of Engineering
University of California, Berkeley

I plan to discuss the character and contributions of Karl Terzaghi - surely one of the most interesting and productive engineers of his time - who created and inaugurated the development of soil mechanics and the soils engineering profession. Using mainly selections from his voluminous correspondence, I will try to paint elements of his personality, philosophy, manner of working, and accomplishments. He was a unique figure: brilliant and interesting - a giant but not altogether a saint - with very broad competence and wide-ranging interests from civil engineering, geology, and science in general to philosophy, history, art, architecture, and more. His background combined Austrian thoroughness and military training on the one hand, and the observational skills of a naturalist on the other. He was a fine writer, a determined and demanding correspondent, a careful listener, an inspiring teacher, a prolific traveler and an entertaining raconteur. He was also admittedly a somewhat controlling person who tried and essentially succeeded in dominating the field of geotechnical engineering.

Introduction by Philippe Bourdeau, Purdue University

Richard E. Goodman received his Ph.D. (1964) degree in Engineering Science (Geological Engineering) from the University of California, Berkeley where he studied as a Ford Foundation Fellow from 1960 to 1963. He received his B.S. (1955) degree in Geology and M.S. (1958) in Civil Engineering and Economic Geology, both from Cornell University. He served on the faculty of the Department of Civil Engineering at U.C. Berkeley from 1964 to 1994, first as Assistant Professor and Associate Professor, then as full Professor of Geological Engineering. From 1994 to present, he has held the position of Emeritus Professor of Engineering.

Through his research and consulting, Professor Goodman made seminal contributions in the areas of engineering geology and rock mechanics. He developed an apparatus and method for in-situ measurement of rock properties, also known as the “Goodman Jack”. In his pioneering work in identification of failure modes and kinematics of jointed (blocky) rock masses, he developed the base friction apparatus and, later, working with Dr. Gen Hua Shi, the block theory. He is a prolific author with an impressive list of fundamental and advanced texts, including Methods of Geological Engineering in Discontinuous Rocks (1976); Introduction to Rock Mechanics (1980 and 1989); Block Theory and its Application to Rock Engineering, with Gen-Hua Shi (1984); and Engineering Geology – Rock in Engineering Construction (1993). He also authored the widely-acclaimed historical book Karl Terzaghi – The Engineer as an Artist (1999). He has authored or co-authored more than 200 technical papers. As a consultant he has worked on major rock engineering projects around the world.

Professor Goodman has won numerous awards, including the E.B. Burwell Award from the Geological Society of America (1977); the Basic Research Award from the U.S. National Committee for Rock Mechanics (1984); and the H. Bolton Seed Medal from ASCE. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1991. The Norwegian Geotechnical Institute named him as their Terzaghi Fellow for 1995-96. He has given prestigious lectures, including the 1995 Rankine Lecture, the 2000 George F. Sowers Memorial Lecture, and the 2000 ASCE Civil Engineering History and Heritage. He was inducted to the U.C. Berkeley Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 2012.

In addition to his many achievements as an engineer Richard Goodman is an accomplished pianist and the founder of the Berkeley Opera.

(Adapted from UC Berkeley Academy of Distinguished Alumni web page © UC Regents)

Presented in conjunction with the 13th Purdue Geotechnical Society Workshop - "Geotechnical Engineering - From Theory to Practice"

2015 Workshop Program

Support for the PGS workshop and Leonards lecture is provided by the following sponsors: