Raison D’etre

When I was in Sweden working on some very interesting post doctoral research (doing some of the things I should have done for my PhD!) my mentor, Prof. Richard E Goodman, suggested that I really should consider starting a testing lab in California, as there were so few places where engineers could get quality rock tests performed. I took his advice to heart and in 1991 I built my first piece of equipment, a direct shear box of my own design, and started my testing lab.

Since the start of this endeavor, I have thoroughly enjoyed the process, not only supporting numerous very interesting rock projects involving dams, tunnels, slope stability designs, land slides, and bridge abutments, but I have also come to understand the shortcomings of conventional testing approaches and have responded by building new test systems and developing new procedures to more fully complement the needs of these projects.

The whole process of building my testing lab and providing these testing services to my colleagues has personally been a most enjoyable and stimulating experience. I have learned enough electronics to have built my own data acquisition system as well as develop the motor control and power systems for my test apparatus. As a unique offshoot this in-depth understanding has allowed me to participate in the evaluation, troubleshooting, and verification of quite sophisticated dynamic servo-hydraulic test systems for a number of state testing labs. It has also been most rewarding to design and machine specialized rock test equipment, overcoming some of the limitations of conventional test equipment and procedures. It has been a real pleasure to see these pieces of equipment slowly take shape as curls of steel fall away from the steel blank, slowly transformed into some useful piece of equipment. What is even more rewarding is to find that in some cases these developments contribute in a meaningful way to my and the community’s understanding of rock behavior.

And so in these pages I hope to highlight some of the advances that I feel are important to the rock engineering community, and hope that engineers will take heed of at least some of the lessons that I have learned over my last 20 years and more of testing.

Please do bear with me though as I am just starting to develop this web site. But with time I hope to flesh out some of the more interesting aspects of rock testing and how these advances may impact future engineering design. If any of these designs are of help to you, I would hope that they would be freely used. As such I would hope they would be held in the public domain. I have no desire to patent any of the ideas, but would feel it an honor if you would find any of these designs or procedures worthy of use.