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IGS Young Members: Down to Earth – An Interview with IGS President, Professor Chungsik Yoo, PhD

Chungsik YooIn this edition of the regular feature, the young members committee interviewed the recently elected president of the IGS.

Name / Institution: Dr. Chungsik Yoo, PhD., Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea.

Specialist Field: Geotechnical Engineering, Geosynthetics, Geosynthetics reinforced walls and slopes, Tunnelling, Large-scale numerical modelling of geo-structures.

What originally inspired you to enter civil engineering, and what continues to do so?

During the mid-1970’s, when I was in high school, South Korea’s economy was booming and there was a significant expansion of urban populations. Significant infrastructures such as metros, railways, roadways, urban infrastructures, etc., were needed, and therefore South Korea was literally under construction. At that time, I was fascinated by the fact that a city, especially Seoul, could be reshaped with construction activities and therefore decided to enter into civil engineering. During my college years, I became very interested in geotechnical engineering, especially geosynthetics and tunnelling, which in turn led me to pursue a PhD study. Whenever I revisit geotechnical principles and find solutions to difficult geotechnical projects with the geotechnical principles, I am still excited.

What do you enjoy most about working in the industry?

As a university professor, I often get involved in consulting work for the construction industry with my graduate students. I am very excited and happy when students learn how to solve real life problems with what they learned during the class and research work while they carry out a consulting project. This is indeed a win-win situation for all the parties involved, including myself, students, and industry.

When and where was your first involvement with geosynthetics?

During my PhD study at Penn State University in USA, I had to validate a three-dimensional finite element code that I developed. My advisor, Dr. Mian Wang, who happened to be a friend of Dr. B.M. Das, told me to contact him to get experimental test results on geogrid reinforced foundation. Dr. Das kindly provided me the results and I was fascinated by the fact that a polymeric material can improve the bearing capacity of a footing when properly installed. Since then, I have been deeply involved in geosynthetics.

Do you have any advice for young engineers beginning their careers? What do you think are the most important skills in today’s industry?

Today’s university engineering education is shifting its paradigm to educate students with multidisciplinary background. This is because society and industry need engineers with diverse skills and creative thinking. That said, I advise young engineers to try to bring a great deal diversity into the way they think. Fundamentals are also important in engineering. In order to become a competent geotechnical/ geosynthetic engineer, he or she must be good with fundamental geotechnical/geosynthetic principles. Last but not least, networking is also as important as technical side. Try to be actively connected with people.

What do you hope to achieve during your presidency of the IGS? How can young members contribute?

As the new IGS President, it is my responsibility to take full advantage of the wealth of achievements and to lead this great society to the next level. Just because the IGS is doing well doesn’t mean that we cannot do even better. It is critical for the IGS to remain forward-thinking and innovative. My aim is, therefore, is to focus on the future in order to move forward, while continuing to carry on the current agenda that have been planned. One of the important agenda during my presidency is “Get young members involved”. Young members are the future of the IGS. One of my top priorities will be expanding young membership to incorporate young minds for leadership development in the IGS. More opportunities will be given to young members to share knowledge and ideas, to connect with leaders in the field, and to have better education and training. I look forward to active involvement of young members in the IGS activities in the coming years.

Do you have any hobbies and interests outside work?

I enjoy Jogging, playing golf, listening to music and playing guitar (see below).

Reported by

Ian Scotland, Communications officer of the Young Members Committee.