Leading Thoughts: 6/28/17 Breaking Into the Field of Engineering - Deanna Chambers' Story

Deanna Chambers, P.E. shares her experience about entering the field of engineering. Deanna has been a Geotechnical Design Engineer for Ground Improvement Engineering since 2007.

Getting Started in Engineering

According to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee , only 14% of engineers in the U.S. are women. Being a woman in a male-dominated industry comes with challenges and opportunities. With the right support systems, mentors and drive, anybody can succeed and Deanna continues to show that success at Ground Improvement Engineering.

During high school, she enjoyed math and science classes and knew that she wanted to make it a career. Not knowing any engineers at the time, she looked at options and chose engineering based on the freshman class schedule. Iowa State niversity, where she received her Bachelor’s degree, has a great Engineering and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program. At ISU, she was able to build a support system of other women who lived on the residence hall floor that were all in STEM fields. “Being surrounded by other strong women with similar goals is very empowering,” Deanna recalls. During undergrad, she learned that engineering is less about math and science and more about problem-solving and hard work.

The ISU Career Fair brought her first summer internship after her freshman year working for a local geotechnical testing company. Hired to help in the lab and eventually finding her way into being a field technician hurled her into the Geotechnical world. During the following school year, she held a research assistant position with the geotechnical engineering department helping a graduate student gather data for his research project. The following summer, she took a chance and moved into the construction world with Peterson Contractors, who is one of the Geopier® installers for Ground Improvement Engineering. During this internship, she provided estimates for designers who sent their scope of work and saw the work through construction as project manager. As you can imagine, this experience proved to be extremely useful once she moved to the design side after graduation. It was an exciting time to be in the ground improvement industry. Geopier was ramping up to be the industry leader in the Intermediate Foundation® industry and new technology was being developed to take on all soil types.


Life as a Geotechnical Design Engineer at Ground Improvement Engineering

As an engineer, it’s important to be innovative and searching for improvements – and we are definitely doing that at Ground Improvement Engineering.  We work closely with geotechnical consultants, structural engineers, general contractors, and owners paying special attention to communication to ensure a smooth process.  When the geotechnical study is complete, the project team comes to us to provide a feasibility assessment and estimate. With a notice to proceed, we provide design documents and stamped shop drawings. Then, while the project is under construction, we make sure the design is being carried out correctly. “This career is very rewarding as every project for which we have to provide solutions is unique and we get to see the project come to life from the early design stages to the finished product,” Deanna says.

What Deanna has Learned About Engineering

“The best engineers build on previous experiences and learn what to anticipate, solving problems before they happen. There will be mistakes and good engineers won’t make that mistake again.  Being humble and admitting when you don’t know something is important and knowing when to seek a second opinion is important,” says Deanna.  

Deanna is thankful for the women who paved the way in engineering and made it a mainstream career option. She is also thankful for her colleagues in helping her excel in the industry. Being a trusted advisor is what she strives for and feels that she has exceled as an engineer. As she celebrates her 10th anniversary of working with Ground Improvement Engineering, she looks forward to the future and what there is to accomplish.



Company News: 6/6/17 GIE adds another Geotechnical Engineer to our fast growing team!

GIE is pleased to announce that Justin Warner, P.E. has joined our team.  Justin is a geotechnical engineer with nine years of consulting experience in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana.

Justin earned a B.S. in Geology as well as a B.S. and M.S. in Geological Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Wisconsin.

Justin will provide geotechnical engineering support for our Geopier® ground improvement work throughout the Midwest.  He will also assist GIE’s structural engineers in performing temporary structure design on cofferdams and retention systems as well as permanent structural support using micro piles and helical piles.  

Justin can be reached at Please join us in welcoming him aboard!

Stay up-to-date with Ground Improvement Engineering – we’re sharing the latest industry news on our LinkedIn page.  Click here to follow us! 


Leading Thoughts: 5/23/17 Renewable Wind Energy needs Solid Support

Are You a Fan of Renewable Energy?

Wind farm projects are popping up across the U.S.

Due to an increase in state and federal government mandates that make renewable energy a requirement, more and more wind energy is being harnessed. In fact, the American Wind Energy Association reported a jump from 905 U.S. wind projects in 2013 to 1,037 wind projects in 2016.  

At Ground Improvement Engineering (GIE), we’ve been involved in our fair share of wind farm projects across the Midwest. Currently, we’re working on wind turbines in Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois and Iowa, which is ranked second for installed capacity.



Victory Wind Farm, Crawford County, Iowa on Geopier GP3® System

We often work with geotechnical engineers on the feasibility of wind energy projects before they go out to bid. The sites chosen for turbines often have soft, deep soils that are too expensive to dig out, so using Geopier ground improvement – primarily the Geopier GP3 System and Geopier X1® System – makes the most economic sense. There are many factors that determine the location of a wind turbine including its distance to transmission lines, consistent wind speed and elevation, which is why finding a ground improvement solution that meets the needs of the location is so important.  

For wind farms, the biggest challenge is excavating deeper than the tower bases.  Most towers are already embedded eight to nine feet into the ground. If poor soils are even only a few feet deeper than that, over-excavation and backfill become cost prohibitive and a technical challenging. We can instead use Geopier® ground improvement to simplify the work of the general contractor work at a reduced cost to the project. 

We look forward to continuing our work on wind farm projects through the fall and beyond. If you’re looking for a partner to complete a feasibility study on a prospective site, or want to know more about ground improvement options for wind energy sites, contact your local GIE representative.

Stay up-to-date with Ground Improvement Engineering – we’re sharing the latest industry news on our LinkedIn page.  Click here to follow us!


Leading Thoughts: 4/25/17 Geopier® Rigid Inclusions an Alternative to Piles

If you have a deep soft soil site and heavy loads, aggregate pier ground improvement is probably not the answer for tolerable settlements.  But rather than throwing in the towel and going to piles, Ground Improvement Engineering (GIE) has another tool on our tool belt for just this situation: GeoConcrete® Columns (GCC). 

GCC is a high stiffness, rigid system developed by Geopier that transfers loads through the soft soils into a hard bearing layer.  Best of all, you can use normal spread footings and slabs once this process is done.

GCC is constructed with a closed system displacement mandrel, supplied with concrete.  It is driven to a suitable bearing stratum and withdrawn to create the load-carrying elements.  A complete description is given here.

If you have a tough building site with deep, poor soils, let us know. We can help you avoid driven piles, drilled shafts or augered cast-in-place piles.  Your design/construction team will appreciate using normal footings and slabs, and so will your wallet!

GCC system construction in Oklahoma City  

The Residences is a 334 Unit urban mixed use development with retail, dining, and office space in the film row district of downtown, Oklahoma City.  The project consists of six separate structures spanning three city blocks.  Two five-story wood framed apartment buildings make up the largest percentage of housing, along with a five-story concrete and wood frame clubhouse building with a rooftop pool and fitness center. 

Parking is handled by multistory cast in place "Podium" parking as well as two precast parking garages over six stories tall.

This project will totally transform the west side of downtown Oklahoma City for years to come, creating an entire new community around the Historic Fred Jones Manufacturing Plant (currently the 21c Hotel).


Company News: 3/2/17 GIE Senior Engineer will present "Next Generation Geopier® Technologies" at ACEC meeting on March 10th in Minneapolis 


Jeff Christensen, P.E., Senior Engineer with Ground Improvement Engineering, is presenting at the upcoming American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) meeting on March 10th in Minneapolis.
The presentation will focus on the latest Geopier ground improvement technologies in the
Geopier Rammed Aggregate Pier® and Geopier Rigid Inclusion families.  These techniques provide increased stiffness beneath embankments, retaining walls, storage tanks and buildings.

For more information, or to set up a presentation in your office please contact us at 763-416-2136 or email