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Geosynthetics Institute News

GSI News, News | June 1, 2017 | By:

George Koerner (left), with the plaque for the first Robert M. Koerner Award, and Robert M. Koerner (right), with the plaque honoring the creation of the award and lecture series in his name.
Robert M. Koerner on his namesake award and lecture series

On March 14, 2017, at the Geotechnical Frontiers conference in Orlando, Fla., George Koerner graciously accepted the Robert M. Koerner Award and Lecture Series. The biennial award and lecture series were established by the Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA) Executive Council; Koerner was the first recipient.

Koerner presented a splendid lecture as part of the morning plenary session. However, the time taken for other events was rather long, and, as a result, there was insufficient time for me to acknowledge many organizations and people. Following are my prepared (but undelivered) remarks.

Thank you all for this superb honor!

It’s a pleasure being here at this combined geotechnical and geosynthetics conference. I say that particularly since the two technologies are so overlapping with one another; in this regard both have:

  • consultants, to create plans and specifications.
  • test labs for evaluation of materials.
  • peer review by owners and permitters.
  • implementation by contractors and installers.
  • construction quality control/quality assurance (QC/QA) inspection and approval.

That said, there is one profound difference: they both have very different sources of the materials involved:

  • for soil, rock, water: The Almighty + geology
  • for geosynthetics: manufacturers

The Almighty didn’t do very well from the aspects of manufacturing QC/QA, the many soil and rock variations, anisotropy, nonhomogeneity, or either too much or too little water. Furthermore, the Almighty has no 800-number. On the other hand, geosynthetics manufacturers are expected to do considerably better, although the process is quite complicated, tedious, time consuming, and expensive. For example, a manufacturer must accomplish the following:

  • decide on the product(s) to use
  • build a factory
  • arrange for suppliers
  • establish a workforce
  • make a (flawless) product
  • market the product(s)
  • sell the product(s) for a competitive price
  • inventory the product(s) and ship them on demand

The manufacturers are the true geosynthetics gamblers, with major up-front decisions and costs, including:

  • application area
  • material type
  • credit rating
  • bank loans
  • personal investment
  • insurance
  • attorneys
  • stockholders

Thus, in a holistic sense, the manufacturers continue to inspire the geosynthetics industry, and others (like myself and the Geosynthetic Institute) reap the benefits. As such, the creation of this award is deeply appreciated.

I say with heartfelt thanks that I humbly accept this lectureship in my name. It is indeed the outstanding technical honor that an individual can achieve.
In particular, thanks to GMA, its officers, board, and membership for creating the award and lecture series. Also to their parent organization, the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), which has been with the geosynthetics industry from the very beginning (1982) with conferences, publications, and surveys, as well as government and industry guidance.

Thanks to all of you and my best wishes going forward for continued success and growth.

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