ICE Asia Geotechnical Short Course 2011

On 17 and 18th January 2011 I attended a geotechnical short course held by Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) UK in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The course focuses on practical design approach to geotechnical engineering in the tropical environment. There were three renowned facilitator in this course which are Dr. Laurie Wesley, Mike Dobie and Nick Shirlaw. All three speakers have extensive experience working in Southeast Asia.

Nick Shirlaw has has over 35 years of experience, mostly in underground construction. He has worked on several major subway projects, including the Tsuen Wan and Island Lines in Hong Kong, Phase 1 and 2 of the Singapore MRT system, the Taipei TRTS, the Rapid Transit Expansion Program in Toronto and the North-East, Circle and Downtown lines in Singapore. He is a Director of Golder Associates (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., and is a part time lecturer on underground construction at the National University of Singapore.

The interesting thing is that Dr Wesley and Mike Dobie are really familiar with Indonesia geotechnical situation. They have plenty of experiences working in Indonesia. Dr. Wesley has worked both in Indonesia and Malaysia and has published two books recently on residual soils. He will publish his book in Bahasa Indonesia this year.

Mike Dobie office is in Jakarta, Indonesia. Locally he is a Member of HATTI (Indonesian Geotechnical Society), and Vice President of the Indonesian Chapter of the International Geosynthetics Society (INA-IGS). He has been a member of ICE (UK Institution of Civil Engineers) since 1978, getting involved in the activities of the Jakarta Local Association soon after moving to Indonesia where he has been a committee member, secretary, treasurer and chairman. He is currently the Indonesia Country Representative of ICE.


The two days short course offers eight sessions of lecture which are :

1. Geotechnical Engineering in Residual Soils – Dr. Laurie Wesley

This lecture briefly introduce the geotechnical properties of residual soils.

2. Slope Stability in Residual Soils – Dr. Laurie Wesley

This lecture examines and discusses a number of factors that make slope stabilityassessments, and slope engineering in residual soils somewhat different from sedimentary soils.

3. Comments on the Use Of Clay in Geosynthetic Reinforced Retaining Walls – Dr. Laurie Wesley

There are issues involved in the use of clay that need to be recognised and taken into account indesigning reinforced walls with clay fill.

4. Site Investigation of Soft Soils and Relevance to Design Parameters – Mike Dobie

This lecture introduces and describes site investigation methods for soft soils based onexperience gained in Malaysia on the North South Expressway project, including the practicalapplication of the methods in planning site investigation and carrying out geotechncial design.

5. The Use of Clay Fills in Reinforced Soil Structures – Mike Dobie

Clay fills are frequently used in the construction of reinforced soil structures, but there frequentlyappear to be misconceptions about the behaviour and performane of clay fills in thesecircumstances. This presentation outlines the behaviour of clay fills during placement, compactionand later use.

6. Reinforced Soil Structures – Some Important Observations Concerning Design and Performance – Mike Dobie

Reinforced soil structures have become widely used over the last 25 years to build steepened slopes, retaining walls and bridge abutments. The lecture introduce some experiences and information gained during this time.

7. Selection of tunnelling methods for residual soils, saprolites and weathered rocks – Nick Shirlaw

The Lecture  focuses on the experience of different tunnelling methods in residual soil, saprolite, and mixed ground conditions comprising therock and soil grades of weathered rock. The application of these methods has depended on theprecise nature of the ground conditions and the length of the particular drive.

8. Assessment of face pressures for tunnelling in residual soils and saprolites – Nick Shirlaw

For tunnelling is necessary to decide whether it is necessary to apply pressure at the face, either to avoid collapse (ULS case) or the control settlement (SLS case). If a pressure is required, the magnitude of that pressure has to be assessed. The lecture review some of the methods that can be used to assess the required pressure.


The course was given in practician point of view. The information provided were based on the lecturer rich experience on their previous work. This is very relevant with my current role in the company where we do engineering in purpose of solving real life problems that needs immediate treatment. I hope they will held the same course in Indonesia next time.

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