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DFI Traveling Lecturer

The DFI Traveling Lecturer is a prominent industry expert selected annually to travel and present a series of lectures to university students, professional groups and industry associations. The program promotes the field of geotechnical engineering and deep foundation construction by encouraging students to explore a career in the deep foundations industry, providing information on topics of interest to members of the industry, and raising awareness of how DFI and its activities support the industry. The lecture series runs from September 1 – August 31.

The 2022-2023 DFI Traveling Lecturer

Dan Brown, Ph. D., P.E., D.GE

Dan A. Brown, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, is recognized as one of America’s leading authorities on the construction and design of deep foundations. After completing his education and his early engineering career in Louisiana, Brown spent 22 years on the faculty at Auburn University, where he taught and conducted research on deep foundations. He remains active in deep foundation practice through his consulting firm, Dan Brown and Associates. His consulting work includes the foundation design of numerous large bridge projects as well as commercial structures. He remains active in teaching through short courses, including the National Highway Institute course on drilled shafts, and in organizing the ADSC Professor Training Workshops in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Brown has authored numerous technical papers and was lead author of the recently released 2018 FHWA manual on design and construction of drilled shafts. He has been recognized with the Golden Beaver Award from the Beavers, the ASCE Huber Prize for research, the ASCE Martin Kapp Foundation Engineering Award, the DFI Distinguished Service Award and the ADSC Outstanding Service Award. He is a past-president of DFI, a member of The Moles, honorary member of the Beavers, past chair of the Geo-Institute Deep Foundations Committee, and an honorary technical affiliate of both the ADSC: The International Association of Foundation Drilling and the Pile Driving Contractors Association.

Upcoming Lectures

March 23, 2023
6:30 p.m. Eastern
Join the geotechnical community at Geo-Institute’s Monthly Meeting in Pittsburgh for a talk on “The Art & Science of Hole Digging.” This is an in person event being held at the This is an in person event being held at the Engineer’s Society of Western Pennsylvania.Register here
May 16, 2023
6:30 p.m. Eastern
Join the Geo-Institute, Delaware Valley Chapter monthly dinner meeting to hear Dan Brown’s lecture, “The Art & Science of Hole Digging.”  This is an in person event held at the Valley Forge Casino, King of Prussia, PA. Registration details coming soon.

2022-2023 Traveling Lecture Series Topics

Topics offered this year range from addressing challenges with bridge foundations to examining modern techniques for drilled shafts and continuous flight auger piles, bi-directional cell load testing, and management of risks and quality assurance of drilled foundations.

Drilled Foundation Construction in the 21st Century, or the Art & Science of Hole Digging

Since the pioneering work of Dr. Lymon Reese in the early 1970s, the equipment and techniques used to construct drilled shafts and other types of drilled foundations have made substantial advancements and opened new opportunities for engineers to employ these types of foundations. Machines for construction of drilled foundations provide capabilities to extend these foundations to depths and diameters never before considered. It is critical to understand construction techniques and soil behavior during construction in order to facilitate continued advancements in construction and to design and employ drilled foundations effectively and reliably. This presentation describes modern techniques for construction of both drilled shafts and continuous flight auger piles, with an emphasis on a fundamental understanding of stability through the process of excavation and concrete placement. The discussion also describes factors affecting the influence of construction techniques on the axial resistance of the completed drilled foundation.

Management of Risks in Foundation Construction and Design for Transportation Infrastructure Projects

Transportation infrastructure projects inherently include substantial risks associated with foundation construction and performance. Factors that can affect construction operations include uncertainties associated with ground conditions, nearby structures, quality assurance, overly prescriptive construction specifications or design requirements, and the required sequence of construction operations. These factors can have an enormous impact on schedule and costs and may even result in costly litigation. Such impacts can threaten the execution of successful projects and undermine the public’s confidence in our ability to get things done. This presentation discusses some of these risk components that must be considered in the planning, design and construction of foundations for complex transportation infrastructure projects, including an overview of several case histories. It is important that these risks be recognized and mitigated to the extent possible by all parties who have a stake in the success of the project, and that all parties work cooperatively to minimize impacts of unexpected difficulties during construction. Both design-build and conventional bid-build projects are improved when the contractual allocation of foundation construction risks is well defined and equitably distributed.

Quality Assurance and Acceptance of Drilled Foundations

The construction of quality drilled foundations inherently involves risks and uncertainty, starting from the assumptions made in design about the ground conditions and the most appropriate construction techniques to the actual conditions encountered and the suitability of the techniques employed. The preconstruction expectations drive the development of the design and specifications for the job as well as the construction planning and bid preparation. The construction phase of the work may sometimes require adjustments to the work, which can require adjustments to aspects of the quality assurance program to achieve acceptance of the completed foundation. Any such changes have the potential to cause delays and/or disputes leading to claims. This presentation describes the key components of quality assurance in the design and construction of drilled foundations from the planning and preliminary design through the development of contract documents to the construction and post-construction verification testing. Real world examples are included to illustrate the importance of components such as design for constructability, development of appropriate work plans with quality control features, and the inclusion of acceptance criteria that can be adapted to the conditions encountered. The objective is to provide a quality foundation that satisfies performance requirements and mitigates the risks of claims to the extent possible.

A Foundation Engineering Trip Down the Mississippi

Huckleberry Finn had his adventure, but this float trip down the Mississippi is an adventure in foundation engineering regarding the many bridges spanning America’s waterway from Minnesota to Louisiana. From the earliest major crossing built by James Eads in 1874 to the new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge nearby, foundation engineers have struggled for 150 years with the challenges of crossing America’s waterway. This lecture describes the foundation engineering works for some of the recent crossings with an occasional glance back at the work of our predecessors.

Experiences with Bi-Directional Cell Load Testing

Since the development of bi-directional cell load testing by Jorge Osterberg in the 1980s, this test method has become very broadly employed in the foundation industry particularly with drilled shaft foundations and now is the subject of an ASTM standard. This presentation examines the bi-directional cell method of load testing, including potential pitfalls as well as the interpretation of the results obtained and the comparison of these measurements to the likely performance of production foundations. The use and suitability of the test method is addressed along with important lessons to achieving reliable results based on the author’s experiences with hundreds of projects employing this test method. Case histories are included to illustrate the do’s and don’ts for planning, construction and execution of bi-directional load testing programs.

Past Lecturers

Thomas D. Richards, Jr., P.E., D.GERetired chief engineer and current consultant at Nicholson Construction Company
David B. Paul, P.E. Managing partner of Paul GeoTek Engineering and retired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
Willie M. NeSmith, P.E.Former chief geotechnical engineer for Berkel & Company Contractors
John R. Wolosick, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCEDirector of engineering at Hayward Baker Inc. (HBI) and past president of DFI