The 9th session of the South African Young Geotechnical Engineers Conference (SAYGEC) was held in Salt Rock, KwaZulu-Natal, from 13 to 15 September 2017, with 129 geo-professionals attending. The theme of the event was #Geotech #Innovate as “#” is now the indicator for popular culture and all that moves it.
The conference brought together geotechnical engineers, engineering geologists, geologists, mining engineers, tailings engineers, and academia under the age of 35 years to discuss the latest developments in ground engineering and geotechnical projects and concepts. The conference featured technical presentation sessions, with discussions on analysis and modelling, mining and environmental, site investigation and testing, construction and case studies, foundations, ground improvement, slope stability and lateral support. Gavin Byrne from Franki (A Keller Company) was the godfather of the conference, overseeing the proceedings and providing feedback on all the presentations.
Technical Papers
Call for abstracts were sent to members of the SAICE Geotechnical division in early January 2017 and 99 abstracts were received by 31 January 2017. The abstracts were reviewed by the technical committee and a total of 68 papers were submitted by April 2017. The papers went through a rigorous review process by committee members and papers were allocated into the various presentation sessions. 58 papers were presented to the delegates, and 10 papers were presented in electronic poster formats. Top papers were nominated by the technical committee members which were reviewed by Gavin Byrne. The proceedings were published in a book, provided to all delegates attending, containing 718 pages.
About the Godfather
Gavin Byrne from Franki, 70 years old, was the godfather for the 9th SAYGEC. Gavin finished his BSc in Civil Engineering at the University of Witwatersrand in 1971 and a graduate diploma at the University of Stellenbosch in 1981. He has four kids and is married to Sue whom also attended all the presentations. Gavin worked for Ove Arup from 1972 -1986 and registered as a professional engineer in 1987. He has worked for Franki for over 30 years now, since 1987. With his vast knowledge in both structural engineering and
geotechnical engineering, it was really an honour to have him overseeing the 9th SAYGEC. Gavin is presently busy compiling the 5th edition of the popular “Franki Blue Book”, a guide to practical geotechnical engineering in Southern Africa.

The best paper award was given to Scott Gover for his paper titled “Linking Safety Factor to Probability of Failure” as shown in Picture 1, while Sachin Ravjee from University of Pretoria was awarded as the best presenter with his presentation titled “The Effect of Cyclic Thermal Loads Behind Integral Bridge Abutments Using DEM”.  Scott will attend a  course in  Brisbane, Australia and Sachin  will be  at the  next international YGEC in Sydney, Australia, in 2021 as part of their prizes. The best poster award was given to Charles  MacRobert  from  the  University  of  Witwatersrand  who  submitted  two  papers.