Behind the Scenes: the Dallas Geotech Lab

The geo lab technicians have nicknamed themselves the A Team: A for Ancient (their words!).  And the fun nicknames don’t stop there if you wander back to the lab.  Juan Grande, New Dale AKA Young Dale (as opposed to Old Dale, AKA Dale Dale), el Hombre con Lápices Pequeños–a newcomer has a lot to learn when encountering this group!

From Left to Right: Ray, Tafford, Carl, John, Dale, Dale, Tom, Raymond.  Not pictured: Rolf

From Left to Right: Ray, Tafford, Carl, John, Dale, Dale, Tom, Raymond. Not pictured: Rolf

To perform tests required by the engineers up front, the A Team must cut, chop, grind, soak, measure, roll, bake, sieve, and yes, even microwave soil samples.  But don’t worry, the A Team doesn’t work too hard.  They adhere to a steady schedule: 7:00 AM arrive, 9:30 AM break time, 11:00 AM lunch, and home by 4:00 PM!

Most summers, an intern or two ends up working in the lab, too.  Past interns have left their marks, with practical jokes still cropping up in the computer programs developed by the tech-savvy youngsters (for example, no matter how good the results are on your Atterberg limits, the commentary always tells you to go see Tony!).  Interns learn the ropes under the guidance of the A Team, including navigating the complicated shelving system for the “Library” of soil samples (do these go on shelf B, BB, B1, B2, B3, or B4?  Why is B5 around the corner in the back?), and how to get the exact consistency of mud needed for a good PI test (peanut butter, or maybe cake frosting).

With plenty of experience and an eye for perfection, the geo lab technicians know how to have fun while keeping up with a steady workload.  These tests provide the data for engineers to make suggestions regarding construction practices, the very heart of what our geotech department does.

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