Educate the Educators

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IGS Educate the Educators Program

ETE logo
Graduating engineering students often have had little or no exposure to the appropriate use of geosynthetics in engineering practices. The International Geosynthetics Society (IGS) Educate the Educators (ETE) program shows professors how the core principles of geosynthetics can be incorporated into their existing curricula.

The main goal of this program is to make sure that every student graduating from an undergraduate engineering program receives some basic exposure to geosynthetics. One way to carry out this action is to supply educators with the necessary knowledge and tools to help them integrate geosynthetic topics into their engineering curricula. ETE workshops provide attending professors with a host of resources to support this mission.

ete-main-imgETE programs are hosted through a partnership between an IGS Chapter and the IGS itself. In each program the IGS Education Committee helps organize the educational portion, including the sponsorship of the speakers, while the host Chapter is responsible for event management, attendee selection, fund raising, and logistics.

ETE events are open for registration to invited professors and academic staff. The expected attendance at each event is about 40 participants, with applications vetted and seats awarded based on an applicant’s credentials and ability to influence curricula at their institution. The IGS and the sponsoring IGS Chapter provide all funding resources and logistic support for these events. ETE attendees are responsible for the cost of their travel to and from the host city. Accommodation, meals, and educational materials are provided free of charge by the event.

The IGS encourages all chapters to consider leading an ETE workshop in their country. Incorporation of geosynthetics in undergraduate education will positively influence the growth of these technologies and the expansion of the appropriate use of geosynthetics. Any geosynthetics group, IGS Chapter, and Professors, with the support of an IGS Chapter, are invited to submit a request for an ETE Workshop.

The benefits of hosting an EtE Workshop include:

  • No cost to participating faculty for the duration of the workshop (though transportation to and from the workshop is the responsibility of the attendee)
  • Educational materials are ready for immediate incorporation into existing curricula
  • Focus on undergraduate education with the ability to expand to graduate courses
  • Emphasizes the one, mandatory geosynthetics class that faculty should teach
  • Generates interest in advanced level EtE events
  • Significant impact on IGS Chapter activity and membership


Overview of the ETE Program

In the 1980s, geosynthetic material development, polymeric research, and wide-scale manufacturing advances helped the field of geosynthetics mature quickly. Regulatory support, such as the RCRA Subtitle D rule from the US EPA, contributed significantly to growth and encouraged outside investment. However, a knowledge gap existed because few people in influential positions, such as lead regulators, policymakers, facility owners, and professors, were aware of geosynthetics.

A non-commercial Educate the Educators program was created in the 1990s to help overcome this gap. ETE events and workshops were scheduled and the results were substantial. Geosynthetic engineering provided a major growth area for geotechnical careers and the market grew substantially. As testament to this educational program, all major engineering firms now have designated geosynthetic experts on staff.

However, in the years since those first ETE events, the responsibility for passing on the latest information on geosynthetics has fallen to college and university engineering programs, just as it has for other materials sectors. This has presented a new challenge to the geosynthetics industry, as the market has developed faster than the education required to pass on the knowledge. In North America, for example, only 45 university engineering programs include geosynthetics education in their curricula.

The International Geosynthetics Society has revived the Educate the Educators initiative with the creation of a new non-commercial program, which multiple organizations have signed on to support (e.g., IFAI, Geosynthetic Institute).

History of the IGS ETE Initiative

ETE History imgA major goal that the IGS Council adopted during the 2010 strategy meeting in Guarujá, Brazil, was “That geosynthetics become indispensable to the point that they are regularly included in engineering curricula and relevant design standards.”

With this long-term goal in mind, a specific objective was established for the IGS four year-plan to “Begin our efforts to increase geosynthetic education at the undergraduate level.”

These efforts started with a pilot program that addressed the educational needs in the country of one of the youngest IGS Chapters: Argentina. Specifically, Educate the Educators (“Educando al Educador”) took place in Villa Carlos Paz, Argentina, 26 – 28 May 2013. This is a good example of a joint effort between an IGS Chapter (IGS Argentina) and the IGS (through its Pan-American Activities and Education Committees).

The focus of the program was on undergraduate education with the larger objective that every student graduating from a civil engineering program in Argentina will have received a basic exposure to geosynthetics. The goal was perhaps a simple one, a basic one-hour class, offered to every civil engineering undergraduate in the country. Thirty civil engineering professors received a fellowship that covered their expenses to attend this premier training program on geosynthetics.

The program benefited from the involvement of the Argentinean Council on Civil Engineering Curriculum (CODIC), an agency that has encouraged development of this educational program.

The revival of ETE built upon the terrific precedent of teaching civil engineering professors about geosynthetics. That earlier iteration was established in North America more than 20 years ago, with Prof. David Elton leading the program from 1994 to 1998. Each year, 25 professors were competitively selected to take part in the courses, which were conducted at Auburn University (Alabama, USA). Attendees had only to arrange their travel to and from Auburn. Meals, housing, and workshop materials were all provided free of charge to the participants.

The format for what was at the time called the “Professor Training Course for Geosynthetics” included lectures by well-known professors, who reviewed extensive class notes prepared as handouts for the course. The lectures covered polymers, manufacturing, erosion control, steep slopes, landfills, mechanically stabilized backfill, pavement applications, embankments over soft ground, and filtration and drainage. The concept of “modular notes” was used, with the notes broken down into many stand-alone parts. In this way, different components of the training session could easily integrate geosynthetics material into existing courses.

Over 15 years after this initial experience in North America, education on geosynthetics at the undergraduate level remains a current, worldwide need. The IGS is not alone in recognizing this important need. Undergraduate students in every civil engineering program deserve to receive a basic exposure to the types, functions, and applications of geosynthetics.

Contact the IGS for more information on how IGS Chapters can help with this important educational initiative program:

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Educate the Educators (ETE) Program Contacts

IGS Secretariat

TEL: +1 561 768 9489
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IGS Education Committee Chair

Prof. Chungsik Yoo
Sungkyunkwan University
Tel: +82 031 290 7518
Fax: +82 031 290 7549


IGS ETE Program

Jorge G. Zornberg, PhD., P.E.
The University of Texas at Austin
Tel: +1 512 232 3595
Fax: +1 512 471 6548

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Educate the Educators (ETE) sessions are hosted by an International Geosynthetics Society (IGS) Chapter and held under the auspices of the IGS, with additional support from the IGS, IGS Corporate Members, and, when applicable, other professional groups.

Educate the Educators on Geosynthetics, India

Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India, 05 – 06 February 2018

Further details about the event will be provided at a later time.

Educate the Educators on Geosynthetics, North America

Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, 04 – 05 December 2017

IGS North America’s Educate the Educators (EtE) event in Kingston, Ontario, Canada was a strong success. Held in early December, EtE provided training and educational materials to 35 engineering professors from across the United States and Canada. The training will enable them to offer state-of-the-practice geosynthetics education to their students, who will then enter the field with some working knowledge of how to utilize these materials in infrastructure. The Kingston gathering was IGS North America’s second EtE event, after a similarly impactful session in Houston in 2015.

Educate the Educators on Geosynthetics, Indonesia

Century Park Hotel, Central Jakarta, Indonesia, 02 – 03 October 2017

ETE 2017 Philippines Group photo
The Educate the Educators (EtE) event, for the first time, was held in Indonesia and was organized by the Indonesian Chapter of the International Geosynthetics Society (INA-IGS). INA-IGS also cooperates with MY IGS (Malaysian Chapter of International Geosynthetics Society), Krida Wacana Christian University and University of Science Malaysia in organizing the EtE event.

Through discussions in the event, it was discovered that only a small number of campuses have made some kind of introduction regarding geosynthetics and an even smaller number of them have a subject on geosynthetics. The common problem was that the subjects were electives and due to the general interest being low, its impact is very limited. The general consensus was that geosynthetics needs to be included in subjects such as soil improvement, thus ensuring every Civil Engineering graduates knows that geosynthetics is an available alternative instead of just some special product that manufacturers are trying to sell.

The event took place on October 2nd 2017 at Hotel Century Senayan, Jakarta. The EtE event was then continued with a geosynthetics international seminar with the theme “Quality in Construction Using Geosynthetics” on October 3rd 2017 at the same place.

Educate the Educators on Geosynthetics, Philippines

National Engineering Center, University of the Philippines, 27 – 28 April 2017

ETE 2017 Philippines Group photo

Through the efforts of Dr. Dennes Bergado, IGS Philippines President Engr. Mark Morales contacted Dr. Rajagopal Karpurapu, chairman, IGS-Asian Activities Committee (IGS-AAC), who gave the IGS-Philippines full support which started the ball rolling for the preparation of the first ever EtE program in Southeast Asia.

There were 42 participants (22 from the academe and 20 representing the industry). Apart from the necessary knowledge and tools to help educators integrate geosynthetic topics into their courses, the program also provided the opportunity to establish contacts with IGS institutional members from industry for future collaborations such as student on the job training (OJT) programs and faculty industry immersion. A total of twelve (12) academic institutions were represented while five (5) other universities expressed their desire to participate but were not able to attend.

Educate the Educators on Geosynthetics, Brazil

Belo Horizonte, Brasil, 27 – 29 July 2016

ETE 2016 Brazil Group photo

More than 40 Teachers, Geotechnical Engineers from different regions in Brazil, were gathered in Belo Horizonte-MG at the end of July/2016 to participate in the IGS Educando Educadores event.

The Educators Educators Program, Brazil / 2016 edition, is carried out by the Brazilian Geosynthetics Association (IGS Brasil) with the support of the International Society of Geosynthetics (IGS), under the Educate the Educators program, and a group of companies that sponsored the project: Maccaferri, Braskem, Geo Soluções, Huesker, TDM, Engepol, Inovageo.

The general objective of the course is to train and motivate teachers to introduce the teaching of Geosynthetics in Brazilian universities within the disciplines they teach or as an isolated discipline in the Civil Engineering program, sensitizing them to the relevance of this class of materials and training them regarding the minimum knowledge in the theme: types of materials, functions that exert relevant properties, and typical applications. The application characteristics and methodologies for these materials are discussed in the context of dam works, landfill construction in troubled lands, slopes and retaining walls, transport infrastructure, water bodies management, recovery of degraded and contaminated areas, etc.

ETE 2016 BrazilParticipated as instructors: Maria das Graças Gardoni (UFMG), Delma Vidal (ITA), Ennio Palmeira (UnB), Jorge Zornberg (UT-Texas) and Maria de Lourdes Coelho, pedagogue (UFMG). There were 3 intense days of learning, with classes and workshops.

Currently, a great majority of Brazilian universities do not have a strong teaching on geosynthetics, either in compulsory subjects, as elective subjects or even on the subject.

The success of the IGS Educating Educators event, organized by the directors of IGS Brasil Prof. PhD. Maria das Graças Gardoni and André Estevão, demonstrates that both academy and industry are committed to changing a current situation.

Educate the Educators on Geosynthetics, China

Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China, 18 – 19 August 2016

ETE 2016 China Group photo

With the great support of IGS, the IGS China Chapter and the China Techncial Association for Geosynthetics and IGS council members, the Educate the Educators (ETE) program was held on 18th – 19th August, 2016 in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China. This program was first of its kind in China. Prof. Chungsik Yoo, Vice President of IGS, delivered a speech in the opening ceremony to introduce the objectives of IGS and this program. Over 70 people attended the training program, who were from more than 30 colleges and institutes of China. Through this event, Chinese Chapter recruited more than 30 new members of IGS.

ETE is a program developed by the International Geosynthetics Society (IGS). It is a geosynthetics education program specific to supporting educators. It provide core geosynthetic content, background information, and materials for use in the classroom so that participants may include geosynthetics in their engineering curricula.

Lectures were provided by Prof. Chiwan Wayne Hsieh (National Pingtung University of Science and Technology), Prof. Chungsik Yoo (Sungkyunkwan University), Prof. Guangxin Li (Tsinghua University), Prof. Chao Xu (Tongji University), Prof. Guangqing Yang (Shijiazhuang Railway University), Mr. Boyd Ramsey (GSE Lining Technology Inc.) and Mr. Pietro Rimoldi (World Tech Engineering/Maccaferri), five (5) of whom are IGS council members.

1_tianzishan_wulingyuan_zhangjiajie_2012Lectures include types, function and properties of geosynthetics, reinforcement, application of geosynthetics in roadway and railway systems, hydraulic and erosion control, environmental protection, etc. It is expected that EtE program will promote the development of geosynthetics in China and tight the relationship between IGS and her Chinese Chapter.

The program was sponsored by Maccaferri (China), GSE Environmental, Hongxiang New Material, Hock Technology and Taian Modern Plastics. All of them are IGS corporate members. Each of sponsors provided showcase of their products in various project applications during the training program.

Besides knowledge of geosynthetics, attendees also had educational discussions on geosynthetics courses for undergraduates and postgraduates. A sample book including 33 types of geosynthetics was provided to attendees for their educational usage upon returning to their institutions.

Sponsor certificates were issued to sponsors, and Prof. Chao Xu, Chair of Chinese Chapter, extended thanks to IGS, respected lecturers, the sponsors and all attendees in the closing ceremony.

The CCIGS has received very promising feedback on this event. We are now looking forward to more activities in the future.

For questions or comments on the ETE Program, contact the IGS Secretariat:

Educate the Educators on Geosynthetics, United States

Austin, Texas, USA, 28 – 29 July 2015

ete-tx-july2015The most recent ETE course held in the United States took place in Austin, Texas, 28 – 29 July 2015. The workshop was organized by the North American Chapter of the IGS under the auspices of the International Geosynthetics Society. Major technical and financial support was provided by the Geosynthetic Institute (GSI), the Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA), and Tencate. Other sponsors included the Erosion Control Technology Council (ECTC), GSE Environmental, HUESKER inc., Presto Geosystems, ThraceLinq, and TRI Environmental.

Approximately 40 seats were available for professors taking part in this educational opportunity and participants were provided with a hotel room, meals, and transportation in Austin. Attending professors only needed to fund their travel to and from Austin, as all other event expenses were taken care of by the IGS and event sponsors.

The lectures covered different applications of geosynthetics in geotechnical, transportation, hydraulic, and environmental engineering. The course consisted of several lectures, led by three experts in geosynthetics engineering:

  • Prof. Richard Brachman, Queen’s University
  • Dr. Barry Christopher, National Highway Institute Engineering Instructor
  • Prof. Jorge Zornberg, The University of Texas at Austin

For more information on the ETE program that took place in Texas, read more here or contact Prof. Jorge Zornberg:

Educate the Educators on Geosynthetics, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal, 29 – 30 June 2015

ete-portugal-june2015This European ETE program took place in Lisbon 29 – 30 June 2015. The workshop was organized by the Portuguese Chapter of the IGS and held under the auspices of the International Geosynthetics Society and in cooperation with the Portuguese Geotechnical Society (SPG).

The event was prepared for 35 attendees representing national universities and polytechnic schools of engineering. In addition to the financial support provided by the IGS, six sponsors (Atarfil, Bianchini, Huesker, Quinimar, NAUE, and Renolit) helped sponsor the event.

The lectures covered different applications of geosynthetics in geotechnical, transportation, hydraulic, and environmental engineering. The course consisted of several lectures given by three experts in geosynthetics engineering:

  • Prof. Jorge Zornberg, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Prof. Erol Güler, Boğaziҫi University
  • Dr.-Ing. Michael Heibaum

For more information on the ETE program that took place in Portugal, contact Castorina Silva Vieira, Secretary of IGS-Portugal:

Educate the Educators on Geosynthetics, Poland

ete-poland1Cieszyn, Poland, 23 – 24 June 2014

  • Organized by IGS-Poland, in cooperation the chapters from Czech Republic and Slovakia
  • Took place in Cieszyn, Poland
  • Delivered in English
  • Prepared with only three months of lead time
  • Instructors: Prof. Guler, Dr. Barroso, Prof. Zornberg
  • Involved 40 professors from 20 universities
  • Event sponsorship: Inora, NAUE, Huesker, Tensar
  • Sessions went from 8:00 am to 7:30pm each day


Educando Educadores

ete-Educadores1Córdoba, Argentina, 27 – 28 May 2013

  • Organized by IGS-Argentina
  • Took place in Villa Carlos Paz, Córdoba, Argentina
  • Delivered in Spanish
  • Instructors: Prof. Palmeira, Mr. Pimentel, Prof. Zornberg
  • Involved over 40 professors from 18 universities
  • Event sponsorship: Coripa SA, Huesker, GSE, Maccaferri, and Mexichem Bidim
  • Average age of participants: 47 years
  • Average teaching expertise: 15 years
  • Supported by the Council for Higher Education


The Future of the ETE Program

ete-ProposeThe IGS Education Committee continues to plan and promote undergraduate geosynthetic education worldwide, through Educate the Educators events.

Professors and IGS Chapters are invited to propose an ETE workshop. Hosting an Educate the Educators program is a great way for IGS Chapters to get involved in their engineering communities. These events provide direct strategies for professors to teach the next generation of engineers about geosynthetics. Visit the Request a Workshop tab for details on how to plan and host an ETE event. For upcoming ETE events, visit the Calendar section of the website.

For questions or comments on the ETE Program, contact the IGS Secretariat:

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ete-apply-imgAll IGS Chapters are eligible to submit a proposal for an Educate the Educators on Geosynthetics Workshop. Professors, with the support of an IGS Chapter, are also invited to submit a request for an ETE Workshop. The size of each ETE event is capped to around 40 attendees.

All proposals need to include a summary of the proposed workshop, including:

  • Organizer (IGS chapter)
  • Location (country, state/province, city)
  • Proposed dates for the event
  • Venue (conference center, hotel, etc.)
  • List of proposed sponsors (See “IGS and IGS Chapter Responsibilities” below)
  • Approximate number of expected attendees



IGS and IGS Chapter Responsibilities

A well run ETE program requires a coordinated effort among the IGS, the IGS Regional Activities Committee (RAC), and the IGS Chapter hosting the event. These three groups work together to plan all aspects of an EtE program making it an enjoyable and educational experience for all attendees.

The IGS is responsible for sponsoring the educational portion of all ETE events, including a call for speakers, the vetting of all speakers, and the airfare of the chosen speakers.

The IGS Chapter hosting the workshop, with support from the RAC, is responsible for managing the event, selecting the attendees, and all other event logistics. The hosting chapter is responsible for covering all ETE event location expenses for attendees and speakers, including the cost of accommodations, meals, and travel within the city where the event is being held.

To help cover these expenses, the IGS Chapter is tasked with contacting geosynthetics businesses and organizations with the goal of obtaining corporate sponsorship. The corporate sponsorship allows workshop attendees to take part in the event at no cost to them, other than arranging for their own travel to and from the host city.

The ETE program is designed with the expectation that the support provided by the IGS, along with the economic support of the event’s sponsors, will make participation affordable for all attendees.

Questions or comments about the ETE program can be directed to the IGS Secretariat:

Submit a Request for an ETE Event

To submit an ETE proposal to the IGS please fill out the WORKSHOP REQUEST FORM. Email the completed form to the IGS Secretariat:

Download Form (PDF)