George Filz, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, together with his faculty colleagues and students, has been investigating geosynthetic-reinforced soil (GRS), which is a ground reinforcement technology that is experiencing increased use for bridge support abutments and other infrastructure components. The fundamental mechanisms of GRS behavior are not well understood and failures occur. Filz investigated the response of a GRS bridge abutment to differential foundation settlements and he reported the findings in a paper to the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies.
An instrumented full-scale field test was conducted, in which a GRS bridge abutment was subjected to differential foundation settlements, such as could occur due to compressible foundation soils or scour undermining. Recommendations to effectively mitigate risks against bridge collapse were developed.
Through two separate review processes, the paper describing this research received two best-paper awards from TRB: the 2104 Best-Practice-Ready Paper Award from the Design & Construction Group and the 2015 Best-Paper Award from the Soil Mechanics Section. The Design & Construction Group includes the following technical areas: Bridges & Other Structures, Construction, Design, Geotechnology, Hydraulics & Hydrology, Materials, and Pavements. The paper by Filz and his co-authors was selected as the best practice-ready paper from 1,000 papers reviewed by the Design & Construction Group. Separately, the Soil Mechanics Section selected the same paper as the best of all those submitted in Geotechnology, regardless of whether a paper’s focus was applied or fundamental.
In addition to the two recent TRB awards, Filz has received the following recognitions for his research and scholarly writing: the NSF CAREER Award, the ASCE Middlebrooks Award, the ASCE Croes Medal, the ASCE Florida Project-of-the-Year Award, and the VT College of Engineering Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research. He has also received six teaching awards and election to Virginia Tech’s Academy of Teaching Excellence in 2007.