New hollow cylinder apparatus at WSU
Fig. 1 – New hollow cylinder apparatus at WSU

The Geotechnical Engineering Laboratory (Geotech Lab) at WSU is setting up new, state-of-the-art facilities to evaluate physical, physicochemical, thermal and mechanical properties (Fig. 1) of natural and man-made geomaterials used to build our world’s infrastructure.

Lab Mission: (1) to enable sound geotechnical solutions for engineering infrastructure projects conducted in close collaboration with our academic and industry partners; (2) to educate the global civil engineers of the 21st century.

Our Partners and Stakeholders are students, researchers and engineering professionals whose jobs strongly rely on the rigorous understanding of mechanics of geomaterials. Our past and current students, collaborators and clients bring expertise from various parts of the world. Many work for (or are in training to join) industries in the mining, energy, transportation, environmental, construction, geotechnical and civil engineering sectors (as well as academia).

"Does your soil model rely on density?" demonstration for Engineering Education
Fig. 2 – “Does your soil model rely on density?” demonstration for Engineering Education

What We Do: geotechnical challenges tackled by our research team address fabric- (e.g. particle arrangement, density, mineralogy – Fig. 2), conduction- (e.g. flow and thermal), and mechanical- (e.g. wave-propagation, stiffness and strength) phenomena that are relevant to the geomaterials used to design, build, maintain and repair our world’s infrastructure.

Soil Mechanics Issues: our team is experienced in the development of rigorous engineering testing and modeling tools applicable to a variety of geomaterials from both offshore and onshore geological deposits. These include (but are not limited to) problematic geomaterials such as liquefiable soil mixtures and tailings, expansive soils that experience major volume change upon drying/wetting, or offshore carbonate sands prone to particle breakage (Fig. 3). Geomechanics frameworks from the 18th-20th centuries struggle to address geotechnical challenges associated with these fabric-sensitive geomaterials.

Carbonate sand (optical & micro-computed tomography photographs)
Fig. 3 – Carbonate sand (optical & micro-computed tomography photographs)

Sustainability Issues: our research also creates and improves engineering testing, characterization and modeling of waste materials. These include new methods that enable the design and construction of safer, more resilient and more sustainable engineering infrastructure involving man-made materials such as mining wastes (e.g. tailings) and other waste materials like coal ash (e.g. class-C, class-F and off-spec fly ashes), rubber and fibers from scrap tires, waste glass, recycled concrete aggregate and waste carbide lime, to name a few.

Our Publications link includes examples of past publications that may be of interest to you and/or your institution (or company). Please get in touch if you are interested in future collaboration(s).

Neurodiversity symbol

Neurodiversity: we believe in engineering research and education that are inherently diverse and inclusive. Lack of understanding of the possible effects of cognitive learning styles and neurodiversity on recent engineering education practices might have contributed to some of the distortions being observed today in various sectors of the engineering profession. Poorly-engineered infrastructure may not just cost more or be less sustainable, but it can also cost lives. Our lab has links with colleagues and collaborators from all over the world who may be happy to contribute their expertise on new, diverse projects and discoveries. (We use lots of tech, respect science, and believe in human collaboration that leads to Real Intelligence – for humans, by humans.)