This page was printed from

Chair’s corner and GMA happenings

GMA News | April 1, 2021 | By:

By Bryan Gee

What’s in a name? For those of us who work in the geosynthetics industry, this question may be more important than you think. A recent call with a high-level federal policy maker brought this home to me. With no prior knowledge of our industry, this person did not understand what geosynthetic materials are, or what they do, and was not able to understand these things based on the word “geosynthetics” alone. We explained some basics of our industry and products, and from there we had a very productive call.

How often do you find yourself in a similar situation? Do your friends outside our industry have even a basic understanding of what you do? I vividly remember trying to explain my company’s products and how they are used to my father many years ago. We made it to the aha moment, but it took a while.

Geosynthetics have been around for decades, and over that time we have continuously introduced new innovations and improved design methodologies. Yet we still see these materials used in only a fraction of the projects where they can add value. Even those who have some understanding of our field often confuse the names and functions of the many geosynthetic products. After all these years, very few of the people you meet on the street would have any idea what our materials are. Sadly, as in the phone call I described above, some of these are people in positions that are important for growing our industry.

I invite you to think about how we might solve this problem. Can you find a better way to help nonexperts understand what our materials are and what they do? The name of this magazine, Geosynthetics, has five syllables. Can you explain what it is about using words with no more than three syllables? The answers to these questions will be key factors in our mission of expanding adoption of the solutions we have to offer.

GMA happenings

By Fred C. Chuck

As we entered the month of February, our schedules would normally be preparing us to attend multiple industry trade shows. Unfortunately, the pandemic had caused all our in-person conferences to move to virtual, and the Geosynthetics Conference 2021 (Feb. 22–25, 2021) was no different. Additionally, our sister event, the International Erosion Control Association (IECA) Annual Conference and Expo, which was scheduled to co-locate with the Geosynthetics Conference 2021, was likewise moved to a virtual platform. However, there were benefits to the virtual meeting. Attendees had the opportunity to access a wide variety of educational offerings, with 40 professional development hours (PDHs) offered at a significant savings over a regular in-person event across both the Geosynthetics and IECA conferences, including technical presentations, panel discussions, roundtable discussions, special sessions and short courses. 

Some of the highlights included the four engaging Featured Sessions:

  • Welcome Plenary: Facing Everest-Sized Uncertainties, Jim Davidson, Mt. Everest avalanche survivor
  • Robert M. Koerner Award and Lecture | Geosynthetic-Reinforced, Column-Supported Embankments: Bridging Theory and Practice, Jie Han, Ph.D.
  • Ethics for Professionals: The Process and What to Expect, David Williams Ph.D., P.E.
  • Being an Expert Witness: The Process and What to Expect, David Williams Ph.D., P.E. 

If you could not attend, and you would like to experience the virtual event, you can still register. When you register now, you will get on-demand access to all the content from the live show. The show website will remain live with the exhibit hall and all education available on demand until May 1, 2021. Register for the show today at

Share this Story