Happy Soil Mechanics Fathers Day: Celebrating Karl Terzaghi’s Birthday

Harry Asche and Sergei Terzaghi

About 140 years ago on 2nd of October, Karl Terzaghi, widely known as the father of soil mechanics, was born. His perspective and his work gave the world a different concept on geotechnical engineering. Karl Terzaghi (1883-1963) was the great professor of geotechnical engineering of his day, with regular appointments first in Istanbul, then at MIT, Vienna, and Harvard, as well as courses of lectures in Berlin, Texas and Illinois. He was the first to elaborate a comprehensive mechanics of soils with his publication of Erdbaumechanik in 1925. His recognition and formulation of the effective stress principle and its influence on settlement analysis, strength, permeability and erosion of soils was his most prodigious contribution. But Terzaghi also pioneered a great range of methods and procedures for investigation, analysis, testing, instrumentation, and practice that defined much of the field we currently know as geotechnical engineering, which influenced the entire civil engineering world This year, the QLD Chapter of the Australian Geomechanics Society has decided to celebrate Karl Terzaghi’ s birthday to honour his contributions to our profession, in collaboration with American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE)-Australia Section and QLD Chapter of Australian Tunnelling Society (ATS). Terzaghi’s fame as a master engineer is well known but the story of his development, both personal and professional, has remained unexplored by most people. As a result, we have decided to celebrate this day in a unique way by hosting Karl Terzaghi’ s grandson, Sergei Terzaghi, from Arup, and Dr. Harry Asche, the Design Director of Tunnels at Aurecon and the chair of ATS. Sergei will talk about 100 Years of Consolidation Theory, as well as his career and how his grandfather’s work has influenced him, while Harry will talk about Karl Terzaghi’s life and his influence in rock mechanics and tunnelling.

About the speakers

Harry Asche President | Design Director – Tunnels, Aurecon

Harry Asche is the current ATS President. He is a civil engineer with 40 years’ experience and has a BE(Civil) from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from the University of Queensland. He holds a position with the University of Queensland as Adjunct Professor at the School of Civil Engineering. Harry is Aurecon’s Design Director – Tunnels and he has provided technical leadership for many of Aurecon’s tunnels in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Tunnels that he has worked on include the Channel Tunnel (UK), the Brisbane Rail Tunnels, New Southern Railway, Northside Storage Tunnel, both in Sydney, and S1 sewer and South-East Busway in Brisbane. Harry then worked on tunnels including the Cross City Tunnel in Sydney, EastLink in Melbourne and the three TransApex Tunnels (Clem7, Airport Link and Legacy Way) in Brisbane. In New Zealand, Harry worked on Project Hobson, Rosedale and the Waterview Connection in Auckland. Recently Harry has worked on Melbourne Metro, NorthConnex, WestConnex 2 and Central Kowloon Route in HK. Harry is the author of more than 30 conference and published papers on tunnelling.

Sergei Terzaghi Principal Geotechnical Engineer, Arup

Born 1962 in Eugene Oregon. Moved in short order to Kobe, Geneva, Santa Cruz Ca, before settling in New Zealand, where I completed most of high schooling (baring one year in Austria). Trained At University of Canterbury graduating with BE (Hons) in 1986. I started work in Auckland, New Zealand with a small local firm called Murray North, working on a wide range of engineering projects throughout New Zealand and indeed the South pacific and Singapore. This proved to be an ideal training for a geotechnical engineer given the range geotechnical materials present and hence range of complex problems to resolve. Murray North was acquired by Woodward-Clyde in 1993. This expanded range of operations to include western USA. I moved to Sinclair Knight Merz in 2000 seeking wider opportunities. This added Australia to sphere of operations and resulted with moving to Australia in 2005. Ended up moving to Arup in 2009. Had a spell based in Los Angeles between 2017 and 2019. Currently based in Sydney, with discussions on projects around the Globe.

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