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IGS Young Members: Down to Earth – An Interview with Dawie Marx

In this edition of the regular feature, the Young Members Committee interviewed past GeoAfrica 2017 Student Award Winner from South Africa, Dawie Marx. Dawie is currently a Graduate Research Assistant at The University of Texas at Austin under IGS Past President Jorge Zornberg.

Name: Dawie Marx

Company/Institution: University of Texas at Austin

Can you summarise your experience of working with geosynthetics?

During my undergraduate degree at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, I worked at a local company, Jones & Wagener, that specialises in waste disposal facilities over vacations. The multitude of applications for geosynthetics in landfills, tailings dams and ash disposal facilities were my first introduction.

Inspired by the work on landfills I pursued research in geogrid reinforcing of landfill clay liners. Subsequently, I returned to Jones & Wagener where I worked on some slope stability projects involving geosynthetic lining systems as well as lining installations. Currently I am doing research in soil-geogrid interaction at the University of Texas at Austin, USA.

What inspired you to enter civil engineering and the geosynthetics industry?

Civil engineering was an easy choice given that my father, his two brothers and my grandfather are all civil engineers. However, I was the only one of the five who enjoyed getting dirty enough to become a geotechnical engineer. I enjoyed working on waste containment facilities as more often than not it is the final barrier protecting the environment from our waste. That naturally lead me into the world of geosynthetics.

What advice do you have for other young members in the industry?

Join the YMC IGS! Your fellow YMC members will be your future colleagues, clients, suppliers or a good international contact. As a minimum, attend some of the multitude of conferences and courses affiliated with the IGS or your local chapter of the IGS. I found the geosynthetic society vibrant and welcoming to young members looking to start or establish their career.

What hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?

I enjoy reading, woodwork and spending time in nature. However, if time is limited a good run or volleyball game with friends is as much fun!

Are you a fan of music? If so do you have a favourite album?

I will listen to whatever is playing as long as I can make out some words (i.e. no metal). However, Mumford and Sons is always a winner.

Reported by

Ian Scotland, Communications officer of the Young Members Committee.