Record Breaking Attendance at DFI’s 44th Annual Conference on Deep Foundations

A record-breaking 1,200+ attendees from around the world joined DFI at its 44th Annual Conference on Deep Foundations, October 15-18, 2019, in Chicago. The conference featured more than 75 technical presentations, panel discussions, 150 exhibits of innovative products and services, technical committee and industry-wide working group meetings, poster presentations, networking events and the annual awards ceremony. 

The event featured two keynote presentations: Geoffrey Baer, Emmy-winning public television writer, producer and host, kicked off the conference with the first keynote lecture on “Chicago History.” Rick Deschamps, Ph.D., P.E., Nicholson Construction, shared valuable and practical advice and recommendations in his lecture on “Future > Forward > Risk, Relationships and Reflections,” which offered both technical and nontechnical insights as we navigate our projects. 

There were two panel discussions: “The Chicago Legacy,” which discussed the Observational Method, deep foundations, earth retention and the future of geotechnical practice, and “>Future>Forward> DFI and Technology,” lead by the DFI Project Information Management Systems Committee. 

Videos of Deschamp’s keynote and the >Future>Forward> panel discussion can be viewed on DFI’s YouTube Channel, available at

Linda Alvarado, co-owner of the Colorado Rockies and president of Alvarado Construction delivered the Hal Hunt Lecture on Communications, “Embracing Change: It is Brains, Not Just Brawn.” The lecture was sponsored by DFI’s Women in Deep Foundations (WiDF) Committee. 

DFI and the DFI Educational Trust honored three practitioners at the Legends Award Program: Dr. Thomas Bauer, past chairman of the supervisory board, BAUER Group, was presented the Manufacturer/Supplier Legend; Thomas J. Wysockey, chairman emeritus, Thatcher Foundations (posthumously), was presented the Contractor Legend (Dr. Michael Wysockey received the award in honor of his father); and Dr. Bengt H. Fellenius, former professor of civil engineering, University of Ottawa, was presented with the Engineering Legend. The Legends Program is available on DFI’s YouTube Channel, accessible at

Winners of DFI’s most prestigious awards were celebrated at the Awards Reception and Banquet. The Distinguished Service Award, DFI’s highest award to an individual, was presented to Thomas D. Richards, Jr., PE, D.GE, retired chief engineer for Nicholson Construction. The Outstanding Project Award was presented to the team of HDR, PCL Civil Constructors and North Carolina Department of Transportation for the driven pile foundation design for the Marc Basnight Bridge on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. 

During the event, DFI President Matthew Janes presented four President’s Awards to recognize the efforts and service of DFI members to advance the work of the Institute. This year’s award recipients were Gerald Verbeek of Allnamics Pile Testing Experts; David Paul, P.E., of Paul GeoTek Engineering; Karen Dawson, P.E., of Jacobs; and Matt Conte of the Conte Company.

Other activities included a Women in Deep Foundations networking reception and presentation of five professional development grants to women in the industry, presentations by the winners of the Student Paper Competition, and a Student Activities Program including a tour of Chicago’s engineering and architectural sites. 

Contact: Theresa Engler, Executive Director, (973) 423-4030, [email protected]