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Risk analysis research ignored by practising geotechnical engineers

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'State of the art is not state of the practice. Advanced academic methods are not filtering down into practice, with few engineers willing to accept probabilistic design methods, ' said Glasgow Napier University PhD student, Gordon Cameron, summing up his experiences following a month long scholarship in North America.

And according to US research experts, cost saving risk analysis methods are being ignored by geotechnical engineers who still opt for traditionally crude factors of safety.

By quantifying the level of risk of each design, a more engineered and economical approach is attainable through adopting more accurate factors of safety.

Cameron was awarded the JM Lessells Engineering travel scholarship by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

During his tour Cameron visited Maryland, Richmond, Nashville, Calgary, Michigan and Boston. Plans to fly to New York were, however, interrupted by the events of 11 September.

In Calgary Cameron presented his first year paper on risk and reliability in geotechnical engineering to the 54th Canadian Geotechnical Annual Conference.

During his trip, Cameron met geotechnical specialists and research bodies across the US involved in risk and reliability in geotechnical design. Research here is very active in this field with Cameron describing Americans as leading the way.

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