ASTM International’s Committee D35 on Geosynthetics held its mid-year committee week 5 – 7 June 2019 in Denver, Colorado. The D35 awards reception served as an inspiring highlight, with multiple honors handed out and two high-level awards issued. Of note, Kent von Maubeuge received the ASTM Award of Merit and Sam Allen was honored with the L. David Suits Award.


The ASTM Award of Merit is the standards body’s highest honor, and with it the recipient earns the prestigious title of Fellow. It is ASTM’s highest recognition for individual contributions to standards development.

ASTM D35 Awards in Denver
ASTM International Board Chairman Taco van der Maten (left) and D35 Past Chairman Bob Mackey (right) present the ASTM Award of Merit to Kent von Maubeuge (center).

Kent von Maubeuge (NAUE) was recognized for his 25+ years of contributions to geotechnical engineering standards development and committee leadership. With D35, he has been particularly involved in work with barrier materials and applications, such as with geosynthetic clay liners.

In accepting the honor, von Maubeuge set a tone that was echoed repeatedly throughout the night: the honor was one made possible only through the support and encouragement of so many people outside of his work. He began by recognizing his family, without the support of whom he would not have the extra hours and travel to give to the standards community. He recognized his company for supporting his interests in standards initiatives around the world. And, he recognized the hard work of D35’s members and ASTM staff, understanding that they too make sacrifices to be strong partners in the standards development process. Without all of those sacrifices, he wouldn’t have been so active across nearly three decades with ASTM committees, and he wouldn’t have been able to achieve as much as he has.

Committee D35’s out-going Chairman, Jim Goddard was joined by new ASTM International Board Chairman Taco van der Maten to present the Award of Merit to Kent von Maubeuge.


The importance of family was most dramatically on display during the presentation of the L. David Suits Award. Recipient Sam Allen (TRI Environmental) was surprised at the reception not only by leadership from Texas Research International but by his wife Kimberly and their three sons.

ASTM D35 Awards in Denver
D35’s members and TRI’s team were able to keep one industry secret from Sam Allen, recipient of the L. David Suits Award: His family had come into Denver to surprise him at the reception.

Like von Maubeuge, Allen emphasized the importance of family support to enable him to pursue the various roles he has with ASTM standards work. He also echoed the importance of a professional family—his company, his colleagues, ASTM’s team. Over 20+ years, Allen has worked with these families to serve in various ASTM leadership roles and contribute to advancing testing protocols, authoring new standards, and all in all fostering greater community and standards activity.

“I’m humbled,” he said. “It is truly, truly an honor.”

Dave Suits, who was a founding member of Committee D35 on Geosynthetics, was recognized during the reception for more than 40 years of D35 active participation. He introduced Sam Allen.

The award recognizes “individuals whose extensive commitment to the geosynthetic field has made exemplary technical, practical or administrative contributions that has resulted in a significant leap-forward of knowledge, testing, testing equipment or products.”


ASTM D35 Awards in Denver
A happy family! Each D35 member here was honored for 25 or more years of committee participation. Back row, left to right: Bob Mackey, Dave Suits, Barry Christopher, Jim Goddard, Bob Wallace, Jim Olsta. Front row: Rich Lacey, George Koerner, Kent von Maubeuge, and Sam Allen.

Committee D35 didn’t let chairman Jim Goddard close out his leadership time without formally recognizing and thanking him for his hard-working but always congenial stewardship of the group. Goddard, like other recipients, stressed that the success of the geosynthetics committee was the result of it being a family.

All of these honorees made a good point. Standards development is the work of individuals volunteering their time and insight and gathering regularly to share encouragement, criticisms, and advice. They serve as peers and mentors. There are formal rules of process, but what governs the formation of so many standards in the end is the familiarity and respect that builds up among committee members as they recognize the larger implications of their joint initiatives.

Thank you, ASTM International, for a fabulous series of Committee D35 awards, workshops, and sessions in Denver!

The next ASTM D35 Committee Week will be held 5 – 7 February 2020 in Atlanta. Learn more about Committee D35 on Geosynthetics.