Professional practice and societal organizations
Cole R. McClure, Gail L. Sorrough, Richard E. Gray, Richard W. Galster, David J. Varnes, George A. Kiersch, 1991. "Professional practice and societal organizations", The Heritage of Engineering Geology; The First Hundred Years, George A. Kiersch
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Today, engineering geologists in private industry occupy key positions in the planning, design, and construction of many different kinds of engineering works. Since the beginning of this century, it typically has been the practice of engineering-construction companies to rely on outside consultants for projects requiring geological expertise. However, with the end of World War II and the rapid development of the early 1950s, engineering-construction companies in North America began to hire geologists as staff members.
A recent survey of the older major engineering-construction companies by Bechtel (1986) established that about half of the firms support engineering geology staffs in-house, while half rely solely on consultants, either individuals or specialty groups. Furthermore, many of the companies that retain engineering geologists in-house occasionally supplement their staff input with the services of outside consultants for a variety of reasons, including fulfilling contractual obligations, enhancing the work capabilities in a specific geographic area, or reinforcing expert opinions in controversial situations.
Today, some of the major engineering-construction companies that support their own in-house geoscience experts include Bechtel Civil, Inc.; EBASCO Services, Inc.; Fluor Engineers, Inc.; Harza Engineering Company; Morrison-Knudsen Engineering Company; United Engineers and Constructors; and Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation.
Bechtel was one of the first engineering companies to hire staff geologists. In the early 1950s, they hired Ben Warner, Victor L. Wright, Robert J. Farina, and Charles P. Benziger to work on a project-by-product basis. However, lack of permanent job status and associated benefits, as well as the inability in those days to advance professionally within the company ranks, was not encouraging to the geologists or beneficial to the company, and consequently, many of these geologists moved on to other professional situations.
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A review of milestones and changes in geological theory and practice from which modern engineering geology in North America has developed. Five chapters discuss historical events and the contributions of early scientists and engineers; nine chapters review the state of knowledge of dominant geologic processes, phenomena, and specialized principles critical to modern practice; and three chapters discuss geologic environs and the properties of construction materials. Four chapters are devoted to geoscience investigations and related techniques for: initial regional-areal evaluation of conceptual candidate sites (Phase I); selection of preferred-designated sites and design (Phase II); typical kinds of investigations used during project construction (Phase III); and as-built documentation and explorations of the operating or rehabilitation phases. Closing chapters focus on the geoscientist's responsibilities relative to engineering failures, errors of judgment that impact works, litigation, and forensic geoscience. The 34 contributors present extensive case histories applicable worldwide.