Soil Engineering for Non-Soils Engineers and Technicians

Upcoming dates (1)

Sep. 12-13, 2022

Madison, WI

Course Overview

This fundamental, hands-on course will give you a working knowledge of soil behavior and concepts related to applied soil engineering. You'll understand concepts and visualize concepts and solutions rather than rigorous mathematics, theory, and research.

Who Should Attend?

  • Technicians and inspectors
  • Project engineers and managers
  • Architects and landscape architects
  • Facility engineers and physical plant staff
  • Geologists and earth scientists
  • Civil and other engineers
  • Construction personnel
  • Industry tech/sales representatives
  • Public works professionals
  • Engineers-in-training
  • Attorneys and mediators

This course is intended for those who have no formal geotechnical education but are working in this field and need to develop an understanding of the basics. You will learn concepts and solutions rather than rigorous mathematics, theory, and research.

Course Outline

Review of Soil Properties and Applications

Soil Investigations, Boring Logs, Reporting, and Specifications 

Demonstration of Field Classification and Testing of Soil Samples

Vertical Earth Pressures and Stresses

Soil Strength and Foundations

Bearing Ratio

Importance of Water in Soil

Lateral Earth Pressures on Walls and Basements, Trenches, and Bracing 

How and Why Soil Compresses and Settles

Soil Compaction and Field Control

Slope Stability and Excavation Support

The Mysterious Soils Wizard Procedures for Earthworks

Applications of Geosynthetic in Soil


“Great overview of all aspects of soils engineering…instructors demonstrated great enjoyment for subject material - made class very enjoyable!”

Paul V. MacHalek, General Service Administration

“Great overview of soils.  Great refresher course! Also helped with applying theory with the actual application.

 Amber Stoffels, BNSF Railway

“Very professional, friendly and knowledgeable instructors.”

Chris Beyer, USBR

“Really appreciated case studies, anecdotes, rules of thumb, tables, photos, and references in handouts, and excellent presentation style — thanks!”

Julia Grim, USD-NRCS 

“Best course I have attended…Very well done. Will recommend to others.”

Jeff Sharp, Pierce County, WA

“Great balance of instructional methods - screen, overhead, photos/videos, lab demonstrations, and…the jokes!”

Chris Meyer, Sargento

“This course has helped me understand the concepts that the engineers are talking about.”

 Howard Wade, Abbott

“The Soils Magician was a true highlight of the course. My face hurst from laughing.”

 David Sipple, P.E., Neenah Foundry

“I’m a mechanical engineer in a position that requires lots of civil and electrical engineering knowledge. For the civil info, this class helped tremendously to widen my knowledge base…The presenters were both very entertaining and knowledgeable and kept my attention. Delivered this info in a way that was extremely easy to understand.”

Mandy Wipf,  WAPA 

“This class reinforces construction ideas and methods for correct engineering solutions.”

 Curt Hora, P.E., Iowa Army National Guard

“Great humor!  Excellent speakers. Currently have a contractor forcefully proposing “hydraulic compaction” with flooded sand. Now I have some reasons to explain to owner why not to use this.”

Tred Schnoor, Schnoor-Bonifazi Engineering


James Tinjum

Dr. James M. Tinjum, PE, is responsible for outreach, research, and continuing engineering education in the areas of geotechnical, geoenvironmental, and energy geotechnics with an emphasis on transmitting practical research applications directly to the engineering community. Over the past 10 years, he has specialized (consulting, expert support, and research) in foundation investigation, monitoring, and research into foundations for wind turbine generators. 

Upcoming dates (1)

Program Director

James Tinjum

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