The 34th Annual Nebraska American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Geotechnical Conference, now known as “GEO-Omaha,” was held on February 10th at the Scott Conference Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Loras Klostermann, P.E., has served as Master of Ceremonies for the past 10 years. He welcomes everyone, introduces the speakers and keeps them on schedule, makes announcements and overall makes sure the event goes smoothly.
The GEO-Omaha conference provides seminars from nationally renowned professors and engineers from numerous fields of geotechnical engineering. They cover a wide variety of geotechnical field, design, and construction-related topics. GEO-Omaha has steadily grown from 30 people in its first year to nearly 300 in 2017. Attendees come from across the region, from Denver to St. Louis and Kansas City to Sioux Falls. Douglas County, City of Omaha, Union Pacific Railroad as well as engineers of disciplines from various area companies and other government agencies were in attendance.
Loras attended the first annual geotechnical conference in 1984 after working in Omaha for only two weeks. He was planning committee chairman from 1993 to 2001 until moving to the Nebraska Section leadership rotation where he served as the Section President from 2004 to 2005. Loras has continuously been involved with the planning committee since 2001. The conference committee searches for speakers on topics of local concern and on the histories of local projects to keep the information fresh from one year to the next.
In addition to conference attendance fees, from 25 to 30 area engineers companies, geotechnical vendors and suppliers annually support the conference through sponsorships and vendor displays. Proceeds from this event are used to fund local ASCE Student Chapter and elementary to high school events. As attendance has grown, additional funds have been used to establish and maintain two student scholarships for geotechnical engineering undergraduate students within the University of Nebraska system. The two Peck/Benak Engineering Achievement Scholarships honor the memory of Ralph Peck, a nationally renowned professor and friend of GEO-Omaha, and Joseph Benak, a longtime geotechnical professor at University of Nebraska-Omaha and University of Nebraska-Lincoln and one of the original developers of the conference.
GEO-Omaha is sponsored by the ASCE Nebraska Section and Geo-Institute Nebraska Section in cooperation with the University of Nebraska Department of Civil Engineering and The College of Engineering.