The University of New Hampshire Annual Pedro de Alba Lecture

in Geotechnical Engineering


2015 Lecture



Speaker: Professor Robert D. Holtz, PhD, PE, D.GE

Professor Emeritus

University of Washington

Date and Time: 9 April 2015, 6:30-8 PM

Networking hour (Cash Bar and Appetizer) at 5:30

Venue: University of New Hampshire, Huddleston Hall


The lecture begins with a historical review of reinforced soil technology, from the ancients, the developments by H. Vidal and K. Lee on Terre Armée and Reinforced Earth, the early uses of geosynthetics for soil reinforcement in France (Bidim), Sweden (Wager and Broms), and the USA (USFS, FHWA, J. R. Bell, T. A. Haliburton, B. R. Christopher and others).  The advantages and basic behavior of geosynthetic reinforced soil (GRS) are presented along with an overview of current design procedures, and with reference to UW analytical research results.  Practical suggestions are given for dealing with creep, pullout, and backfill drainage. Geosynthetic properties and then discussed, again with reference to UW research results.  Although GRS is quite a mature development, a few technical and professional issues remain; primarily, too many failures of these structures occur.  Reasons for these failures and some suggestions as to what the profession can do about them are presented.  The lecture ends with several examples of successful applications of GRS and reinforced soil technology.

For more information and in order to register please contact Jean Benoît at or Majid Ghayoomi at

Sponsorship opportunities are available in support of this annual event.

To watch the 2015 de Alba Lecture click here

Previous Lectures , you can watch the recorded lectures.


Professor de Alba's Bio:

Born in Chihuahua, Mexico on April 2, 1939, Pedro A. de Alba obtained his BSCE in 1964 from the National University of Mexico (UNAM). He then worked as a design engineer for public and private sector, before obtaining his MS in 1969 from the University of California, Berkeley. He obtained his Ph.D. working on liquefaction of sands during earthquakes under the supervision of his advisor, Dr. H. Bolton Seed. After his Ph.D. in 1974, he worked as a senior engineer for Shannon & Wilson in Burlingame, California (1974-1976) and then as a research engineer at Berkeley (1976-1977) before joining the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of New Hampshire in 1977. In his 33 years at UNH he taught over twelve different courses in geotechnical engineering at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Professor de Alba was an outstanding teacher, a scholar and, above all, a gentleman. He was a mentor and a role model to his students and colleagues. In his numerous service roles he always showed great compassion and support for students and the university. His professional interests were in experimental techniques for measuring the dynamic response of soils, especially residual strength of liquefied sand. Professionally he was involved with several major research projects including the deep array for earthquake response at Treasure Island and the National Geotechnical Experimentation Sites program. He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and the American Society for Testing and Materials where he served as an editorial board member for the Geotechnical Testing Journal. He was also co-editor and founder of the earthquake engineering journal Sismodinámica. His dedication to the engineering profession was truly exemplary.