Following in the footsteps of the growing band of TV chefs, we present for your edification a five-course meal of attractive, well-informed websites of considerable interest to geotechnical engineers.
The starter: geopages
Geopages (www.geopages.co.uk) is an interactive website devoted to geotechnical engineering, which employs three cartoon characters (Sid, Derrick, and Dave) to guide you through the site.
Lovingly designed, this is an amusing but informative site that is well worth a visit.
The Toolbox (www.geopages.co.uk/toolbox/tools.html) has links to more than 70 on-line journals, book reviews, technical standards, patent searches, scientific calculators, and a geotechnical bookstore.
Geopages' interact ive directory (www.geopages.co.uk/market/ market.html) includes a growing number of geotechnical companies and organisations, organised into separate categories under the headings associations, consultants, contractors, and products and plant. The database can be searched using keywords.
News and views (www.geopages.co.uk/news/news.html) claims to give you 'just in time' access to industry news and information. This part of the site provides short articles under the headlines of companies, bright ideas, in focus, and diary.
Beautifully presented, there is much of interest to read here, including details of a new web database for ground improvement and geotechnical aspects of landfill design.
Finally, the Site Cabin (www.geopages.co.uk/canteen/canteen.html) provides some light relief with jokes, puzzles, and crosswords - the latter designed especially for geotechnical engineers. You can also post announcements on the noticeboard, including job advertisements, items for sale and items wanted.
Second course: AskBRE
AskBRE (www.askbre.co.uk) calls itself 'the information site for every professional concerned with the built environment.
Whether you are a client, contractor, architect, surveyor, or engineer, there is something here for you.'A bold claim - but one the site lives up to.
Insight (www.askbre.co.uk/insight) is BRE's electronic current-awareness newsletter.
Updated monthly, it provides analysis and independent value judgements to help you form opinions 'and help you stay ahead of the competition'. Individual subscriptions to the newsletter cost £300 per year for full access.
Built Environment Books Online (www.askbre.co.uk/bookshop) claims to be the UK's largest construction and built environment bookshop.BEBO is a gateway that allows you to browse more than 23,000 publications from publishers and professional organisations and buy titles online. With impressive search facilities, this appears to be a very useful resource.
The Construction Industry Directory (www.askbre.co.uk/cid) is an online catalogue of UK and international trade associations, professional bodies, and not-for-profit organisations related to the built environment.
Unfortunately, the only organisation we found of relevance to geotechnical engineers is Ground Forum, for which only an email address is given.
Signposts (www.askbre.co.uk/signposts) gives details of more than 19,000 websites belonging to commercial organisations in the construction industry, both in the UK and abroad. Searching for sites listed under the keyword 'geotechnical'returned 191 records.
Main course: NCE Plus
The most impressive civil engineering site that we visited for this review is undoubtedly NCE Plus (www.nceplus.com). The site takes full advantage of its links with New Civil Engineer magazine and other Emap publications (such as Ground Engineering), storing many topical news items which you can browse or search as your needs dictate.
It has a pleasing design (although the symbols at the top of the screen are rather cryptic), is easy to navigate and impressively quick to respond.
The site includes sections for news, new products, jobs, and weather; searchable directories of companies, products, and IT developments; an archive and bookshop; and the intriguingly entitled 'knowledge bank'.
The Knowledge Bank (www.nceplus.com/nce/knowledgebank/asp/index.asp) has short articles from various publications covering a variety of topics, including ground engineering. The headlines on the day we wrote this article included 'How Genoa will need a bridge to accommodate to [sic] world's largest ships' and 'A unique civil engineering contract'for an Essex bypass (the A130). The geotechnical content of these pieces was rather limited, but the pictures were nice to see and the information reasonably interesting.
Make sure you visit the NCE Plus Photo Gallery (www.nceplus.com/nce/knowledgebank/asp/photogallery.asp), which has some fascinating three-dimensional views of various projects, including the Millennium Bridge (before it closed), the Tate Modern, and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
NCE Plus's archive (www.nceplus.com/archive/html/index. htm) covers not only NCE, but many other Emap publications including Ground Engineering, Architects' Journal, Construct ion News and New Civ il Engineer International.
Also worth noting here is CN Plus (www.cnplus.co.uk), which comes from the same stable as NCE Plus and uses a remarkably similar design, although the content is different.
Dessert: Corus Construction Centre
Corus provides useful technical information about its products at its new Construction Centre (www. corusconstruction. com), including a small selection of bridge case studies, design properties of structural elements, and a good selection of in-house texts on corrosion. Provided you don't get lost navigating the site, here you will find the full text of the Piling Handbook (follow the links to Miscellany, Piling Handbook).
Cheese and biscuits: a selection of other sites
Geoengineers is a company of consulting engineers and geoscientists based in the US.
Its site (www.geoengineers.com/geoindex.htm) is a good example of how to mix marketing information with useful facts about projects it has worked on. The Library section provides a variety of articles, technical papers and special reports.
CIRIA's Safegrounds Learning Network (www.safegrounds.com) aims to deliver best practice guidance about the management of contaminated land on nuclear and defence sites.
The Network is initially a collaboration between nuclear liability holders and the regulators, contractors and consultants to the nuclear industry. The site includes technical papers and topical articles on the subject of contaminated land.
Coffee and liqueurs
We hope you enjoyed our five-course meal. But don't expect our menu to remain the same.
With changes occurring on the web at an everincreasing pace, there will be other sites to savour when next your hunger pangs return.
Andrew Bond (firstname.lastname@example.org) is managing director of Geocentrix (www.geocentrix.co.uk), which specialises in engineering web site design and software development.He is Webmaster for the British Geotechnical Association (www.geo.org.uk) and the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (www.issmge.org).
Vassilis Poulopoulos is a software engineer at Geocentrix and a recent winner of the Kvaerner Prize for the best performance in any civil engineering MEng degree programme at Surrey University. He can be contacted via email@example.com.