With former Saints' quarterback Archie Manning poised to deliver the Hal Hunt Lecture on Communications, the Deep Foundations Institute's (DFI's) 42nd annual conference in New Orleans is headed for the end zone after more than a year of planning.

Eustis Engineering employees have been heavily involved in organizing the Deep Foundations and Risk Management conference, which will examine topics bearing particular significance to Southern Louisiana. The area’s complex soil composition can offer geotechnical engineers an unrivaled soil education.

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Karishma Desai

Karishma Desai, P.E., a Project Engineer who has worked at Eustis Engineering since 2012, has served as a co-chair on the conference organizing committee. Together with her co-chair and program advisor, Karishma created a technical program with both deep foundation and risk management tracks.  The conference will draw leaders in the deep foundation and ground improvement industry, in addition to those associated with design, construction, QC/QA, and risk assessment/management.

“The year-long process of planning and coordinating with the DFI staff, session chairs, and authors has come together extremely well,” Karishma said. “It has been a rewarding process and one of the best experiences of my career.”

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Gwen Sanders

Gwendolyn Sanders, P.E., who has been a Eustis Engineering employee since 1993, has been the conference’s program advisor. Gwen is the executive vice president and engineering manager at Eustis Engineering.

“I've been impressed at how organized and professional DFI is,” Gwen said. “Their program quality is really good, with national and international papers submitted.”

Bill Gwyn, P.E., Chairman of the Board, has served as a session chair, which means he helped select and review papers. At the conference, he will moderate one of the technical sessions.

Marketing Assistant Erin Schilling has carried out committee secretary duties.

The conference will be held at the New Orleans Marriott on 24-27 October, 2017. The conference was last held in New Orleans in 1992, according to DFI’s Executive Director, Theresa Engler.  This conference is the largest of the year for DFI, an association of contractors, engineers, suppliers, academics and owners in the deep foundations industry representing more than 50 countries on six continents.

The conference’s main attraction is the presentation of technical papers focusing on deep foundations and ground improvement, and associated risks and mitigation practices. The papers are bound into a book and published for the conference.

Karishma, along with co-chair Nabil Mikhail, P.E., of Intertek-PSI, was responsible for selecting topics for the technical papers, overseeing the abstract and paper review process, coordinating the technical program, organizing the exhibition, and promoting the event. At the conference, Karishma and Gwen will attend committee meetings, introduce keynote speakers, and moderate technical sessions.

“It is because of the DFI staff and especially the Director of Technical Activities, Mary Ellen Large, that we were able to deliver an excellent program for the conference,” Karishma said. “Mary Ellen was our right hand in planning and organizing the proceedings. If it weren’t for her help and support, the planning of the conference would not have been possible.”

Approximately 900 individuals attended the conference, which included 150 exhibits.

“I’m really excited to finally see all our hard work come to fruition,” Karishma said. “I hope all attendees find the conference enjoyable and beneficial.”

Karishma has been involved with the organization since 2006 and has served on the Ground Improvement Committee since 2008. In April 2014, the committee prepared a guide for installing wick drains, which speed up consolidation in soft soils. The document is available on the DFI website, www.dfi.org.  In March 2015, the committee published “Commentary on Selection, Design and Specifications of Ground Improvement for Mitigation of Earthquake-Induced Liquefaction,” which was presented in the August 2013 DFI Journal, Volume 7, Issue 1.  Currently, the committee is working on NAVFAC Aggregate Pier Specifications Guidance and several other items.