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10 Questions With… Dustin Taylor

The IGS Job Shadowing Program – linking students with industry – has a new lead. Dustin Taylor has taken on the task of developing and widening adoption of this important scheme to help boost the career prospects of the next generation of engineers.

Here, Dustin shares his plans for the program and explains why it’s an essential part of a thriving geosynthetics industry.

Hi Dustin, please tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello! I am a licensed, professional geotechnical engineer with more than 15 years of engineering experience and have a Master of Science in Civil Engineering degree with a focus on Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Washington based in Seattle, Washington.

I am the Immediate Past-President of the ASCE/Geo-Institute Seattle chapter with more than 750 members, winning the Best Chapter Award as President in 2021. I was the first two-term President in more than 45 years and oversaw the completion of commitment to the Holtz Fellowship with more than $600,000 available to provide financial assistance to students pursuing careers in geotechnical engineering.

I’m also the Committee Liaison for the Geo-Institute Sustainability Committee and the webmaster for the Geo-Institute Geosynthetics Committee.

I currently work for Solmax as an Engineering Business Manager for the Northwest where I focus on value engineering solutions and becoming a project resource for stakeholders in my territory primarily for civil infrastructure and reinforcement for roadways and working platforms. I am also focused on sustainability and resiliency initiatives at Solmax.

What is your involvement with the IGS?

I have been a member of IGS for a year. I recently finished two terms as the President of the American Society of Civil Engineers Seattle Branch / Geo-Institute Seattle Chapter. This freed up my schedule, and I was encouraged by a mentor within my company to join the IGS and to increase my industry involvement.

This is my first position in the IGS. So far, it’s been great getting to know so many people from all over the world and working to make sure their programs have the support they need to operate, taking feedback from the chapters to enhance our support of the effort as well as improve the experience and processes for future generations.

Yes, congratulations on your new role as lead on the IGS Job Shadowing program. Why did you take it on?

I enjoy meeting new people and connecting students to industry. I began my education with several internships and job-site visits, and I believe this is crucial for future professionals. It helped me tremendously when I was entering into industry after having already had some exposure, and I want to facilitate similar experiences and opportunities for other young adults.

Tell us about the program.

The IGS Young Members Committee (YMC) introduced the Job Shadowing Program to provide students with on-the-job training and experience in the geosynthetics industry. It was developed following a survey of prize-winners from a student competition in IGS Brazil in 2020, which revealed that work experience opportunities were the most desirable awards for students.

The YMC, with the support of the IGS Foundation, is working with chapters to implement a program tailored to extend opportunities to students. Students who are IGS Young Members and enrolled in full-time undergraduate education, studying for a Master’s degree or doctorate, carrying out postgraduate research, or have completed one of these degrees no more than one year prior, can apply.

Companies do not need to be IGS Corporate members to take part in their first facilitation but must become members if they wish to host programs in subsequent years. The program can be implemented in-person or virtually, with lunch and other hosting costs eligible for reimbursement up to a set amount agreed with each chapter. Students must submit a short report to their chapter about their experience upon completion of the program.

What are your plans and priorities for the IGS Job Shadowing Program?

My plan is to develop and streamline the application process through job shadowing as well as with step-by-step instructions to make the process simple and easy to work. This will be through implementing the successes of the individual chapters and promoting best practices along with documenting job shadowing ideas along with previous experiences. I will also work to increase general participation in the program.

Why is the Job Shadowing Program so important?

It is very important to our industry. As with all industry, there is a shortage of workers. Being in such a specialized industry, it can be difficult to ‘plan’ your way into our industry. The program will bring awareness to our industry as well as showcase opportunities for potential geosynthetics professionals.

This is a great program for industry to sell itself to students and for students to show what they can offer to industry. It is mutually beneficial for both industry and the young professionals, where industry gets access to a high-quality, educated, and trained workforce, while students streamline their professional development and connection with industry very early in their careers allowing them to accelerate and magnify their opportunities, and to network with top tier professionals while still enrolled in university.

Did you do work experience as a student? If so, what impact has it had on your career?

I had several internships and leadership positions as a student. The immediate impact was to ease the financial burden of paying for undergraduate studies. It also allowed me the opportunity to network, learn from professionals, and to scope out the industry before I committed my entire career or adulthood to the industry I was in at the time.

I was also President of GIGSS (Geo-Institute Graduate Student Society) when I was in graduate school where I worked to connect students to industry. These experiences have shown me the opportunities available to me from industry and the world of business as well as give me the blueprint for my professional life, including volunteering and service.

How can members (individual and corporate) get involved or find out more about the Job Shadowing Program?

You can reach out to myself, YMC chair Dawie Marx, any of the IGS YMC members as well as local chapter leadership, and we will be happy to get you the information or involvement you desire. Please email us at We also have a handy guide here where you can find out more.

Job Shadowing Guide
What are your interests and hobbies outside the IGS?

I enjoy exercise, sunshine, the outdoors, music, meditation, travel, and time with friends and family.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I want to thank the IGS, IGS Foundation, Dawie Marx, Ben Leshchinsky, Chris Kelsey, Preston Kendall, and all who have taken the time to meet me and get me up to speed on the program rollout. I’m very excited to help promote geosynthetics to students and to provide a path for young adults entering the industry to connect and network.