Getting Along: The Geotech and the CM

by Charles Daugherty, Geotech Dept., PBMKT, 5510 Westmoreland Road, Dallas, TX 75237,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1993, Vol. 63, Issue 7, Pg. 56-57

Document Type: Feature article


The opinions of geotechnical engineers are usually respected within a consulting firm, but when such a specialist gets out in the field, he or she is seen as merely part of the backup team, or even as an obstacle to completion of the project. Conflict often ensues and should be avoided. This conflict should not be surprising, since construction managers generally sympathize with the contractor, and may have even worked for one. Also, contractors are by nature optimistic, while design engineers have to be conservative in order to create safe structures. The geotech's field job is to enforce specifications and see that construction operations respond properly to as-revealed field conditions. CM's are almost totally focused on finishing the job on time and on budget, and are likely to regard any delay with skepticism. Sometimes a legitimate concern of the geotech is viewed as needless research, or time-consuming data collection that will enable the engineer to write a reputation-enhancing technical paper and not contribute in any way to job completion. A list of suggestions to facilitate communication is included. An engineer must never compromise the safety of the operation, but he can learn to understand the other individuals' point of view.

Subject Headings: Consulting services | Geotechnical engineering | Contractors and subcontractors | Structural safety | Team building | Dispute resolution | Managers | Budgets

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