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Geosynthetica’s editor Chris Kelsey checks in on the growth of virtual events. This is the GeoUpdate from GeoTalk for May 27.

With the spread of the COVID virus around the world, virtual events are keeping geotechnical engineers connected. Webinars have replaced most in-person office visits. I even did my first Microsoft Teams podcast interview this morning—and we’ve seen many geotechnical conferences moved well into the future.


Earlier this week, the 7th European Conference on Geosynthetics (EuroGeo 7), a wonderful quadrennial regional event from the International Geosynthetics Society, was postponed from September 2020 to May 2021. Go to for the dates and details, and please remember to keep your support for this event. Geosynthetica will be there. Warsaw in the spring!

Rescheduled … but also Virtual
The local organizing committee for the Canadian Geotechnical Society’s annual conference GeoCalgary 2020 have announced that they are rescheduling the in-person conference for 2022. Don’t think this means the CGS is abandoning events for two years! The 2021 annual conference from the CGS is still on scheduled for Niagara Falls. (Bring your barrel!) Follow the CGS in social media, get on the newsletter list, and keep tabs at the CGS website for the latest information on Niagara Falls 2021 and Calgary 2022.

In the meantime, look for the September 2020 online conference. Not only is the CGS producing high-level webinars right now, it is preparing or significant virtual events. An annual meeting of some sort will happen. This is a very new announcement, so details are not yet available. The CGS is one of the oldest and most influential geotechnical societies in the world. They can do this.

And that’s the point: virtual events with real impact are certainly possible.

Quick Change Artist
The Australian Centre for Geomechanics pulled off a pretty epic feat this month when with almost no lead time it held the Slope Stability 2020 conference entirely online. They enjoyed strong participation in the presentations, they had good sponsorship, and they’ve made the entire proceedings open online.

New Format, Same High-Level Training
TRI Environmental has held high-quality geosynthetics CQA training events for more than 15 years. The April event, which was to be part of GeoU 2020, was moved to November … but TRI, which typically hosts two CQA weeks per year, didn’t want to disappoint engineering houses, regulators, and landfill operators who attend the spring CQA courses. They arranged a live, virtual version of the courses June 1 – 4. The virtual classes will be executed with half-day sessions and still have the same instructors (Mark Sieracke, P.E.; Dr. Jeffrey Kuhn, P.E.; and Sam Allen). Visit the GeoU 2020 website and click on the upper right link for “Geosynthetics CQA Webinar” for registration, schedule, and additional details.

The Takeaway
Virtual events are keeping us together. Stay involved! Renew your professional society memberships. Keep your registrations and sponsorships for events that are moved. Attend webinars. And, take in some virtual events.

Your work is essential. Never stop learning.
– Chris Kelsey