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Reflections on the AGS 2016 Members’ Day and Speaker Presentations

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From Matthew Baldwin, AGS Chairman

Each year the AGS Chairman assisted by various committee members and the Secretariat, are faced with organising Members’ Day. This is no small task and requires the AGS to think carefully about what will make Members’ Day an event worth attending.

This includes the selection of an appropriate venue, inviting external speakers to present on themes that are topical and relevant to specific areas of the industry, as well as making sure subcommittee Chairmen produce a succinct report of work undertaken by their subcommittees over the preceding year!

The 2016 AGS Members’ Day was no different, although this year we were trying both a new venue and date for the event; the first time that Member’s Day had not been held on Rankine lecture day for many years. As I said in my introduction on Members’ Day, this change of venue and date was necessitated for two reasons. Firstly, the available space for sponsors and members to move round and interact at the RGS (the home for Members’ Day for several years), was severely limited and meant that we couldn’t actually accept any further sponsors. Secondly, Imperial College have started to hold an afternoon seminar to precede the Rankine lecture. Because a number of AGS members wished to attend this seminar, it meant that they were forced to choose between Members’ Day and the seminar.

In view of these concerns, it was decided to move both venue and date for 2016. Whilst both I and the AGS Secretariat believe that this year’s Members’ Day was very good and produced positive feedback, the real test lies in members’ feedback. Once we have digested your comments on the questionnaire that we asked you to complete, we will make a decision about where we hold 2017 Members’ Day.

Although not deliberate, the theme of the topics delivered by the invited speakers, all had as a common thread, collaboration and how as an industry we can do things better in the future. David Place of Mott MacDonald demonstrated the benefits of continual modification of the design (backed up by real time performance observations) during construction work on the Moorgate Shaft. In talking about unexploded ordnance in relation to both land and marine projects, Robin Rickard of Alpha Associates emphasised the need for all parties to think about the risk at an early stage and not wait until construction was about to break ground.

After the lunch break, Tim Chapman of Arup provided a thought provoking look at the possible future for geotechnics in the UK and emphasised the need for the industry to both learn and do things differently if it was going to be relevant to society as a whole. This was followed by Derek Smith asking whether ‘any old bit of plastic’ would do for use in design that utilised geosynthetics. Whilst clearly indicating that appropriate materials needed to be used, he made a compelling case on environmental grounds for the use of such materials becoming the norm in future projects. The final presentation of the day was on Geodata management in relation to the HS2 project and was given by Felicity Sims of HS2. She explained how powerful a comprehensive and joined up electronic database could be for a major project.

In summary I hope that all members and indeed any non-members who came along to hear what the AGS has to offer, enjoyed this year’s Members’ Day. The work of the AGS to better represent the industry in all areas is on-going and as I stressed at Members’ Day, the committee both values and needs members views and ideas to ensure that we remain relevant and reflect industry concerns and issues. As Tim Chapman said, none of us can afford to rest on our laurels and not look at ways to improve!

Presentations from AGS Members’ Day can be viewed below;

1) Matthew Baldwin Chairman’s Introduction

2) John Talbot BPWG Report 2015-16 – FINAL

3) Neil Parry Contaminated Land Report

4) David Place The Accelerated Programme for the Moorgate Shaft

5) Jackie Bland Data Management Report

6) John Masters Laboratories Working Group report

7) Hugh Mallett Loss Prevention Working Group report

8) Robin Rickard 6Alpha Associates

9) Julian Lovell Safety Working Group report

10) Tim Chapman The Shape of the Geotechnical Engineering Industry in 2025

11) Derek Smith Geosynthetics: any old bit of plastic will do

12) Felicity Sims Geodata management on the HS2 project so far

10) Matthew Baldwin Chairman’s 2016 AGM Summary