Distinguished Colleagues, Dear Friends,


This is my fifteenth progress report after 455 days as your President. Note that previous reports are on the ISSMGE web site ( under “From the President” if you need them. In this report, I would like to first offer some apologies, then talk to you about your present, the results of the official opinion poll for ISSMGE versus ISGE, and the second big part of my vision as President.


Apologies: I owe all of you an apology. It appears that through some sort of electronic glitch, the “reply” button to my last progress report would sometimes trigger the “reply to all” and you have received many unwanted emails. For this I offer my apologies. My goal in attaching the ISSMGE email lists in the “Cc” was for you to always have the latest lists that will allow you to communicate with the various groups of our professional family by simply copying them from the Cc. From now on I will hide those lists in the Bcc so that even “reply to all” will only come to me. If you need any of those lists simply ask me or our Secretary General’s office.


Present: I have been overwhelmed with requests for the DVDs, but I am very happy to oblige. Note that there is a bonus in each DVD as in many instances the Buchanan Lecture is preceded by the Terzaghi Lecture of the prior year. I attach the file describing which Terzaghi lecture comes with the Buchanan Lecture. Because of the very large volume of requests, I have decided to contract out the copying and mailing of the DVDs. This means that it may take a good while before you actually get your present. Please be patient, but if you do not have those DVDs by mid February, let me know.


Results of ISSMGE or ISGE opinion poll: I want to thank all of you for a very valuable discussion on a topic which mobilized the energy of many of our members and demonstrated the passion we have for your profession. This is very positive because it helped all of us get a better sense of who we are, what we do, and how far reaching our profession is. It also demonstrated how different the practice is among our 88 member societies. The results of the informal individual members opinion poll in September was 76 for ISGE, 42 for ISSMGE, and 10 neutral. The results of the formal member societies opinion poll  which had a deadline of 31Dec2010 is 20 for ISGE, 30 for ISSMGE, and 1 neutral. Those in favor of ISGE simply state that we are called geotechnical engineers, what we practice is called geotechnical engineering so we should simply be called the international society for geotechnical engineering. Those in favor of ISSMGE state that ISGE creates a problem with rock mechanics, engineering geology, and a loss of scientific content. I understand both points of view clearly and they both make sense. There is still one thing that is not clear in my mind and that is the case of some member societies who do not have soil mechanics in the title of their own national society yet are in favor of ISSMGE. Hearing from you on this issue would help me clarify this apparent inconsistency. As a side note, I am writing an introduction book and the title has the words geotechnical engineering and soils in it. While I do have a chapter on rocks, one on engineering geology, and one on geophysics, the main topic is related to soils. Thank you again for participating in a very worthwhile exercise and for such a very good response with 51 member societies responding out of 88.


Image of our profession: As President of ISSMGE I wish to accomplish several things during my tenure. My first goal was to reorganize the society into a more mature structure where the control of many aspects of the society would be more placed in the hands of the members rather than in the hands of a few leaders. In doing so I was also trying to engage more members in the affairs of the society so that more members would develop a sense of belonging to our professional family. This first goal lead to the creation of a number of Board Level Committees and Presidential Groups which have done a great job of making us progress. While this first goal is still developing and remains important, we have reached a steady state. So, I would like to move to my second major goal which is to enhance the image of our profession worldwide. Like me, you may have noticed that we are very good at internal development. Conferences, technical committees, international seminars are examples of that. We do very well in talking to ourselves but we are not good at talking to people outside our field. We do not do as well in selling the value of geotechnical engineering to the general public, to the news media, and to other engineering fields.  Changing that aspect is very difficult, a very long term effort, and will require all of us to think about ideas to achieve this. Obviously I have some ideas of my own but I need your help. Please send me ideas on how to improve the image of our profession and to change the way the world outside our professional family thinks of us. The goal is to get to the point where people instead of saying “it is not rocket science” will say “it is not geotechnical engineering”.


Please relay this message to all your members. Happy new year and best wishes,
Jean-Louis BRIAUD
President of ISSMGE
International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering