June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.1027.1 - 26.1027.19
Introducing Soil Property Evaluation in Geotechnical Engineering – Some Food for ThoughtAbstractDuring a first course in soil mechanics and geotechnical engineering, instructors must emphasizethe importance of soil property evaluation for classification and engineering purposes. Studentlearning outcomes typically address field and laboratory experiments commonly performed inpractice. On every project a geotechnical engineer must use visual-manual and more prescribedtests to assess soil characteristics such as particle size distribution, particle shape, consistency,plasticity, strength, compressibility, compaction, and hydraulic conductivity. Students quicklylearn that a geotechnical engineer serves as detective on the job, gathering important facts andinformation about the site soils before addressing the design problem.The first course in geotechnical engineering usually includes a laboratory component wherestudents touch, feel, examine, and test different soils. The astute instructor provides samples andsimple demonstrations to help illustrate new and important concepts related to soil behavior.Instructors encourage students to develop a sense of proportion and perspective whenconsidering geologic materials. How large are gravel, sand, silt, and clay grains? What is theconsistency of soft clay or loose sand? Developing perspective can be challenging since manystudents have not yet considered soils as construction materials. In these cases, analogies andcomparisons with familiar everyday 'things' prove helpful in improving student understandingand learning.Every student eats and has at least some knowledge of food, though this knowledge willadmittedly vary with the individual's palette. Instructors use this fact to their advantage whendemonstrating important concepts related to mechanics and materials. Have you ever witnessedthe use of dry pasta to demonstrate an important concept in physics or engineering? Indeed,geotechnical engineering instructors often apply food analogies in classroom and textbookdiscussions. Butter, peanut butter, and cheese prove illustrative when describing the consistencyof clayey soils at varying moisture contents.In this paper, we present some food for thought when addressing soil property evaluation ingeotechnical engineering instruction. Specifically, we summarize the results of a comprehensivetesting program designed to assess the "engineering" behavior of different foods. Specific testsand foods we examined include: measured consistency of common grocery store items(e.g. cheese, peanut butter, miso paste) using the liquid limit device, torvane, pocketpenetrometer, and triaxial test apparatus; frictional resistance of grain-like foods (e.g. rice, salt,sugar) using direct shear test equipment; particle size and particle size distribution of variousfood items (from flour to water melon); particle shape of various soft and hard candies; relativedensity and void ratio computations for various particulate materials (e.g. rice, coffee), andothers. We present test results with interesting graphics, photographs, and illustrations, whichcould easily be used during classroom and laboratory instruction. In addition, we briefly discussmaterial property evaluation required for the bulk handling and processing of food powders(e.g. flour, spices, cocoa) and comparisons with this study. We conclude the paper by discussingchallenges and learned lessons associated with testing food in the geotechnical laboratory.
Fiegel, G. L., & Derbidge, N. (2015, June), Introducing Soil Property Evaluation in Geotechnical Engineering – Some Food for Thought Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24364
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