Small Research Grants


2014-2015: geotech: Development of a geotechnical engineering software package in R, Dr. James Kaklamanos (Merrimack College)

In this project, we composed a geotechnical engineering software package within the statistical language and environment R.  The software package, aptly named geotech, has the capability to perform a range of geotechnical engineering computations, and is freely available for use in the geotechnical engineering field.  An additional benefit of R is the wide availability of add-on user-contributed software codes, referred to as "packages," which perform calculations in specific areas of study.  The geotech package is a compilation of functions for performing calculations and creating plots that commonly arise in geotechnical engineering and soil mechanics, and is the first R package to provide broad coverage in this area.  The types of calculations that are currently included are: (1) phase diagrams and index parameters, (2) grain-size distributions, (3) plasticity, (4) soil classification, (5) compaction, (6) groundwater, (7) subsurface stresses (geostatic and induced), (8) Mohr circle analyses, (9) consolidation settlement and rate, (10) shear strength, (11) bearing capacity, (12) lateral earth pressures, (13) slope stability, and (14) subsurface explorations.  Geotechnical engineering students, educators, researchers, and practitioners will find this package useful.  For additional information, please visit and, and refer to the project final summary report and presentation.

2016-2017: Creation of a Library of Group Activities that Promote Active Learning in the Undergraduate Soil Mechanics Classroom, Dr. Kristin Sample-Lord (Villanova University) and Dr. Gretchen Bohnhoff (University of Wisconsin-Platteville)

A "grab-and-go" set of education geotechnical activities with Word/PDF files to allow for instructor editing. Sixteen different activities were developed with the help of undergraduate students at both VU and UW-Platteville. The materials for each activity include: (1) a summary sheet for the instructor with learning objectives and instructions; (2) the activity handout to provide to the students; (3) the solution set; (4) an example rubric for the activity; and (5) supplemental information, if applicable. All files are provided in Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and/or PDF formats to allow for easy editing. The required in-class time for the activities ranges from as short as one to two minutes to 50 minutes, to allow for flexibility in implementing the activities in existing courses. All of the activities are meant for small informal groups. The recommended number of group members ranges from two to five, allowing for use in a range of class sizes. The activities also vary widely in their format (e.g. "typical" quantitative problems, group jigsaws, concept questions/discussion, group presentations, calculation QA/QC) to complement different teaching styles. Please provide feedback regarding this set of activities in a brief survey.

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