IGS history

In the winter term 1969/70 at the University of Stuttgart two professors of the “Department Civil Engineering and Surveying” as the faculty had been named at that time had retired, by name Friedrich Tölke, professor for Building Materials, Soil Mechanics and Hydropower Plants and Arthur Röhnisch, professor for Water Management, Foundation Engineering und Hydraulic Engineering. Thus at that time the subject Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering were represented by two different institutes. The fact that the two mentioned professors retired simultaneously broke the opportunity for a restructuring in compliance with the pattern of other German Universities.

In 1969 the new Institute of Foundation Engineering and Soil Mechanics was founded and Professor Dr.-Ing. habil. Dr.-Ing. E.h. Hans-Ulrich Smoltczyk was appointed to its first head. The institute moved in the building Pfaffenwaldring 35 (Atrium) where it is situated with its offices and labs down to the present day. During 25 years as head of the institute Professor Smoltczyk excellently promoted young researchers and left his study materials – a constantly updated compendium of expertise – to numerous students. In total he supervised 35 PhD-Students and two post-doctoral lecture qualifications covering almost every single section of the subject, e. g. the development of new high-grade constitutive models, earth pressure and earth works problems, to name only a few.

Geschichte Bild_Sm_edited2

From 1978 to 1990 Professor Smoltczyk was chairman of the German Geotechnical Society (DGGT e.V.) as well and he was voted to its honorary chairman in 1998. Until 1995 he was both editor and secretary of the german professional journal geotechnik. The reputation of his expertise far beyond national professional circles found its approval in his unanimous election as vice president of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE), a function he held from 1989 to 1994. He also rendered outstanding services to the development of European Standards in Geotechnical engineering (EC 7).

Not least the professional world owes professor Smoltczyk the continuous updating of the standard work in german geotechnical literature, the Grundbau-Taschenbuch. His responsiblity for it as editor and secretary started with the 3. Edition published in 1980 and ended with the 6. Edition published in 2001. In 2002, Professor Smoltczyk’s constant efforts for world wide scientific communication for many years consequently led to an Edition in English language, the Geotechnical Engineering Handbook. For his social commitments beyond the professional subject, in 1999 the Federal Cross of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz) was awarded to professor Smoltczyk.

In 1994, professor Smoltczyk retired as head of the institute. As his successor professor Dr.-Ing. Pieter A. Vermeer was appointed to the professorship and head of the institute, which was now renamed as Institute for Geotechnical Engineering (IGS). In terms of research he focuses on new nuclei, in particular on the modelling of the extraordinary complex behaviour of granular materials. While his previous scientific years at the TU Delft he had already founded and led a research group, which worked on the development of a computer programme to solved complex geotechnical problems based on the finite element method. As a result of this work, a range of geotechnical software tools were developed. The software as well as the company, founded to enhance and to distribute the software, were both called PLAXIS. Nowadays PLAXIS is one of the leading finite element programmes for geotechnical applications worldwide.

Herr Professor Dr.-Ing. Pieter A. Vermeer

Because of its highly rated expertise and reputation the institute became more and more a centre of attraction to students and guest researchers from all around the word. During his period of service as head of the IGS, professor Vermeer supervised 15 PhD-Students and attended one post-doctoral lecture qualification.

By the end of the year 2009, professor Vermeer went into retirement and set the position as head of the institute free for professor Dr.-Ing. habil. Christian Moormann. Professor Moormann got his PhD as well as his venia legendi from the TU Darmstadt. Before he took over the professorship and the function as head of the institute, he had been COO and associate at a geotechnical engineering consultant.

In 2011, the section Geotechnics at the MPA Stuttgart, Otto-Graf-Institute was integrated in the IGS. Since September 17th 2013 the IGS has the permission under building law, issued by the German Institute for Construction Technique (DIBt), as an official inspector and supervisor for the construction of ground anchors (PÜZ-centre, code number BWU44).