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Baltic balance

Report on XIIth European Young Geotechnical Engineers' Conference, Tallinn, Estonia, 23-27 September 1998, by Rand Selman, Mott MacDonald.

This year's European Young Geotechnical Engineers' Conference was hosted by the Eesti Geotehnika Uhing (Estonian Geotechnical Society) in Tallinn, Estonia. British Geotechnical Society was represented by runner-up of the 1998 Cooling Prize Competition Rand Selman of Mott MacDonald and Simon Levy of Bachy Soletanche.

The organisers planned a busy programme for all the participants which allowed for presentations of papers, geotechnical and historical tours of the city of Tallinn, lectures from geotechnical experts and, most importantly, time out in the evening to explore the city's night life!

Selman presented her paper, 'Subsurface movements induced by tunnelling in London Clay', a discussion of internal monitoring results from London Underground Northern Line tunnels due to excavation of the Jubilee Line Extension tunnels beneath. Levy introduced results from the Copenhagen Metro relating to his paper, 'Comparison of designing a retaining wall for bottom up and top down construction of a deep underground station'.

A total of 30 engineers representing 19 European countries attended this year's conference, as well as guest lecturers from Finland, Germany, Estonia and Austria. The event provided the ideal opportunity to discuss the latest developments in geotechnical research being carried out across Europe, feedback from large construction projects and thoughts on the future of geotechnics and the essential role it plays in civil engineering and the environment. Indeed, it was the variety of the topics discussed and the different background of all the delegates, a balance of industry and academia, which contributed largely to the success of this conference.

Another contributing factor was the tour of Tallinn led by the Estonian Secretary of State and a leading Estonian geotechnical engineer. The interesting and detailed tour of the capital city took in both the developments in civil engineering in recent years as well as the history and politics of the nation and its beautiful old town centre.

However, never let it be said that geotechnical engineers do not know how to enjoy themselves; many a restaurant, shop, bar and club was visited in the name of 'sampling the local culture'.

For the British delegates, this was an invaluable experience providing an opportunity not only to make new contacts and friends in our field but also to see a beautiful Baltic country about which we knew little. We would like to thank the British Geotechnical Society for the sponsorship and our companies, Mott MacDonald and Bachy Soletanche, for their support in providing the opportunity to attend the conference.

Also, a very special word of thanks to the organisers from the Eesti Geotehnika Uhing, Olavi Tammemmae and Anto Helm, for all the planning and hard work which clearly went into hosting a truly memorable event.

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