Earthworks: Theory to Practice – Design and Construction

Dr Burt Look

The technical presentation is based on the latest book by Dr. Burt Look. This 2022 book aims to connect earthworks theory with practice by providing examples of inconsistencies that occur on a regular basis.

This 1-hour overview samples a few case studies relevant to Queensland practice, with a background on the Main Roads Earthworks specifications for placement and control. The overview covers the introduction chapters on acquiring data with investigation and laboratory testing to obtain the correct information prior to the ground model, as well as construction quality monitoring.  A few (mis)understandings and limitations on common practices and tests are highlighted.  Compaction mechanics is arguably one of the simplest engineering concepts.

Success in any project requires getting the simple things right.  Yet the presentation will show disturbing “errors” that is still occurring in many offices/sites with the application of this simple concept. This book was derived from “Earthworks” course notes compiled over 10 years of presenting the 2-day course for practicing engineers.  The course evolved from on-the-job issues and refined through feedback and discussions with over 1,000 attendees. A case study approach is adopted to examine everyday design and construction earthworks practices with cases studies over the 14 chapters.

Dr Burt Look

Dr Burt Look graduated with a master’s degree from Imperial  College (London) in Soils Mechanics and Engineering Seismology. He obtained his PhD (Part time) from The University of Queensland while working at Queensland Main Roads.  He has over 40 years professional Engineering experience and is widely recognised in the areas of earthworks, expansive clays, landslides, ground improvement, risk assessment, value engineering and site characterisation.  He has been a technical advisor and expert witness in these areas. Burt has introduced many innovations in testing and design which have been adopted in various specifications and procedures. Burt is the 2014 Queensland Professional Engineer of the year and the AGS Practitioner 2018.  He is a Diplomate of Geotechnical Engineering (DGE) as awarded by the ASCE Academy of Geo Professionals. Burt was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2020. Burt developed and presented “Earthworks” a 2-day course (2006 to 2017) for practicing engineers by Engineering Education Australia, and an associated 1-day course on “Earth Structures”.  He has published 4 books and over 95 technical papers focused on industry practice developments.  His latest book is “Earthworks: Theory to Practice – Design and Construction”.

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