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Students in the competition evaluated how the construction of a new building would affect the settlement of a nearby existing building. | Image: Getty Images
A two-person team from Texas A&M University won the prestigious Mohr’s Circle Award for their geotechnical engineering expertise at the 2021 GeoChallenge GeoPrediction competition.

Doctoral student Md Ashrafuzzaman Khan and civil engineering senior Ethan Harris from the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering accurately predicted the settlement of an existing structure due to dewatering activities.
Md Ashrafuzzaman Khan
Doctoral student Md Ashrafuzzaman Khan | Image: Texas A&M Engineering
In the challenge, the students evaluated how the construction of a new building would affect the settlement of an existing six-story building nearby. The finalists were chosen based on the ranking of their submitted GeoPrediction reports and then required to submit a video presentation on the results.

GeoPrediction, sponsored annually by the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Geo-Institute as part of the Geo-Congress Conference, is a student contest in which participants predict the behavior of a real-world geotechnical system for given complex situations. The winning team of the competition holds the Mohr’s Circle Award, a tribute to Christian Otto Mohr, who developed the graphical method in 1882 to represent the stresses in soil.

Kahn has long awaited the victory. He placed second in the GeoPrediction competition in 2017, 2018 and 2019. 

“I was waiting for first place for a long time, and finally, the dream came true in 2021,” he said.
Ethan Harris
Civil engineering undergraduate senior Ethan Harris | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Harris said competitions like this bring out the problem-solving side of civil engineering. 

“I’m honored by the decision of the Geo-Institute to award us with the Mohr Circle Award and look forward to applying what I learned to my professional life as a civil engineer,” he said.

The team was supervised by Dr. Anand J. Puppala, A.P. Florence Wiley Chair in the department. 

“I am proud of the students who worked hard to bring the Mohr Circle Award to Aggieland for the first time,” Puppala said. “We will continue this tradition and encourage more students to participate in national and international platforms.”

Dr. Robin Autenrieth, department head and A.P. Florence Wiley Professor III, echoed Puppala’s sentiments.

“Competitions like GeoPrediction challenge students to apply what they have learned in class to solve open-ended problems that they could encounter in their careers. For this team to have won is a good reflection on how well their studies have prepared them for their professional futures,” she said.

View the students’ winning GeoPrediction results and presentation.