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Conference History

The University of Minnesota Annual Geotechnical Engineering Conference was started in 1953, largely through the efforts of Miles Kersten, University of Minnesota; Charles Britzius, Twin City Testing; C.K. Preus, Minnesota Highway Department; and Wilfred Darling, Corps of Engineers. The Center for Continuation Study at the University of Minnesota was instrumental in providing engineers with the opportunity to learn about the developing field of soil mechanics. Other areas of civil engineering soon followed the lead of the geotechnical engineering community and started to offer annual conferences. In addition, the tradition of conference planning continues with involvement of individuals from the University, government agencies, and private industry.

The speakers at the 1st Annual Soils Conference included John M. Nolte, Dean of University Extension; Miles S. Kersten, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota; C.K. Preus, Assistant Engineer, Minnesota Highway Department; Herbert Wright, Jr., Associate Professor, Geology and Mineralogy, University of Minnesota; Rockwell Smith, Roadway Engineer, Association of American Railroads; Charles W. Britzius, Technical Director of Twin City Testing; and Ralph B. Peck, Research Professor of Soil Mechanics, University of Illinois. The conference attracted 121 participants largely from Minnesota, but individuals from Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois were also in attendance.

In 1979, at the 27th Annual Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering Conference, the Kersten Lecture was established and George Sowers, Regents Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presented the first lecture. In 1989, the conference name was changed to Geotechnical Engineering. The Conference now attracts about 200 participants, and the speakers include internationally renowned geotechnical engineers.


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