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Event Organiser: ICE

John Mitchell Lecture 2021: A Career Embedded in the Ground, webinar

  • Webinar
  • Online
  • 26 January 2021
  • 17:00 - 18:30
John Mitchell Lecture 2021: A Career Embedded in the Ground, webinar

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The John Mitchell award was instituted in 2008 in memory of the prominent geotechnical engineer John Mitchell of Arup, who was killed while observing piling works at a central London site in 1990.

This event is run jointly with the British Geotechnical Association (BGA). They are an associated society supported by ICE. This is an annual event, with 2021 marking its 14th year. The winner of this award gives the John Mitchell Lecture the following year.

The award criteria considered by the BGA include the following:

  • In reflection of John Mitchell’s career, selection will favour practical applications of up to date geotechnical concepts or models (rather than advanced theoretical academic practice)
  • The BGA will consider individuals, like John, who in the course of their careers via incremental works have made significant contribution to geotechnical practice
  • Notwithstanding the above, the BGA will in addition consider any contemporary practitioner who has instigated a major advance in the geotechnical field, thus opening the award up to the innovative, regardless of age or incremental contribution count

Topic: Technical competence as the primary attribute of an engineer, embedded in a geotechnical context, and the role of the engineer in projects and business.

Drawing on his geotechnical design experience, the first part of the lecture will concentrate on technical aspects; technical competence being the primary attribute of an engineer. David Beadman will discuss the forces imposed on embedded retaining walls from the retained ground and ground water, comparing theoretical and measured values. This will include specific examples from two key projects that he worked on in mid-career: The Jubilee Line Extension Project and the Copenhagen Metro.

Several examples of pile design and performance from more recent projects will be reviewed, providing some avenues for future research. After several years of presenting courses for Thomas Telford on Geotechnical Design to Eurocode 7, and many years of using the code in practice, David will reassess the partial factor approach to ultimate limit state geotechnical design. This section will conclude with a discussion on ‘value engineering’.

The second part of the lecture will broaden the subject matter to deal with some of the additional topics that are included as part of the Chartered Professional Review, discussing the role of the engineer in projects today and the role of the engineer in business. Important decisions about the procurement route and the type of contract are made at an early stage of civil engineering projects which strongly influence the outcome of the contracts. This will be discussed, based on David’s personal experience, assessing the apparent success or otherwise of different contracts.


17.00 Chair’s introduction
17.05 Sponsor introduction by John Byrne of Byrne Looby
17.10 Presentation by David Beadman
17.55 Q&A session
18.15 Vote of Thanks by Chris Gough
18.25 Closing remarks
18.30 Event ends


David Beadman

David Beadman

David studied engineering at St John’s College, Cambridge, specialising in Soil Mechanics and Structures in the final year. After graduating in 1979, he joined W S Akins, briefly working in its design office before working on site for a couple of years at Drax Power Station Completion Project. His subsequent experience back with Atkins and at a couple of other companies focussed largely on structural engineering before he joined Bachy in 1991.

Bachy wanted structural experience in addition to geotechnical knowledge to strengthen its design expertise for its core business; installing piles and retaining walls. Bachy was fortunate to win contracts for many of the underground stations at the east end of the Jubilee Line Extension Project including Canada Water, Canary Wharf and North Greenwich stations. David led the designs of the temporary embedded retaining walls. The Copenhagen Metro followed with Bachy Soletanche being part of the design and build joint venture where he took the role of design manager for the joint venture.

After periods with the geotechnical teams at Arup and Tony Gee & Partners, in 2008 David was approached by John Byrne and Michael Looby to open an office in England. Byrne Looby’s Guildford office soon grew into a profitable business employing twenty-five geotechnical and structural engineers with another five in Manchester. Piling contractors provided a significant part of the turnover in the early years. As the company grew, the client base grew to include many main contractors amongst others. Byrne Looby has become widely known across the United Kingdom.

Event venue

United Kingdom

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