Posted in Academic Issues, Civil Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering

My Review for the FE Exam Civil/Geotechnical Section

Over the years, my department has asked me to give a review session for my students before they take the FE exam. In this time of COVID, I’ve committed all my other lectures to video, and this one is now no exception:

I mention a few of things in the intro I’d like to elaborate on:

  • About ten years ago, it was brought to my attention that my students weren’t doing well on the FE Exam geotechnical section. My response to that was simple: “I’ll fix that problem.” I did that by aligning what I taught in class with what was in the FE “cheat sheet” (I’m sure NCEES loves that designation.) I don’t subscribe to the idea that we should only be “teaching to the test” but the FE exam’s geotechnical requirements are pretty basic, so that wasn’t much of a conflict. What has been tricky is that they’ve shifted around what they require over the years. But my students’ performance on the test has improved.
  • Since COVID I’ve put my lectures online. If you need to investigate some topics in detail, I’ve got them either at my Soil Mechanics or Foundations pages.
  • Once you’ve digested what’s presented in the video, you can and should solve sample problems. I just don’t recommend that you start your preparation doing that.
Posted in Academic Issues, Civil Engineering

Yes, Civil Engineers, Things Move —

A salutary reminder from Y. Ryabov’s An Elementary Survey of Celestial Mechanics: There is of course no sense in asking why the planets rotate or why they have motion in general. Everything in the universe, from the smallest dust particle to colossal cosmic bodies, is in constant motion. There is no such thing as matter […]

Yes, Civil Engineers, Things Move —
Posted in Civil Engineering

Those Pesky Kilogram-Force Units —

Generally speaking, engineers educated in the U.S. must be educated in two units: the U.S. system (the Brits abandoned the Imperial system long ago) and the S.I. system, commonly called the “metric system.” I say commonly because they’re not really the same; countries that have been using the system the French came up with it […]

Those Pesky Kilogram-Force Units —
Posted in Civil Engineering

D.D. Barkan’s Dynamics of Bases and Foundations Online

Years ago, when new documents went up on this site, they were announced. Because of the large number of these documents, we haven’t done that in a long time.

This one is special: it is D.D. Barkan’s 1962 classic Dynamics of Bases and Foundations, the translation edited by another “geo-legend,” G. P. Tschebotarioff. It has since fallen out of copyright, which makes it possible to disseminate here. The impact of this book on the subject of Soil Dynamics was considerable at the time and long-lasting. It was also one of the first books to come out of the Soviet Union at a time when few did, and highlighted the advances in vibrational technology that the Soviets were undertaking at the time.

It is our pleasure to pass this along to you, and we trust that you will find it useful all these years after its publication.

Posted in Civil Engineering

Fill and Grade Work for Christmas

Recently I posted a video for my university course, Soil Mechanics: Compaction and Soil Improvement. At the beginning of the lecture I posted this Biblical reference:

There is a voice that cries;
Prepare a road for the Lord through the wilderness,
clear a highway across the desert for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
every mountain and hill brought down;
rugged places shall be made smooth
and mountain-ranges become a plain.
Thus shall the glory of the Lord be revealed,
and all mankind together shall see it;
for the Lord himself has spoken. (Isaiah 40: 3-6 NEB)

Although there are many interpretations of this, the literal one is that it’s talking about is fill and grade work, especially for transportation infrastructure. It’s been a part of construction and civil engineering since ancient times; the best known evidence are the Roman roads, although there are others. One of the joys of maintaining this site is knowing that representatives of those ancient civilisations are frequent visitors to this site, keeping up the traditions of both the civilisation and the profession.

Although it’s not generally regarded as a Christmas passage, thanks in part to Handel’s Messiah it’s been associated with it. Once you make the association with fill and grade work, however, listening to this will never be quite the same.

Our Christmas wish at for you is that your civil work in 2021–fill and grade work and otherwise–and your own personal “fill and grade work” will be fruitful.