In Memoriam Em. Prof. Jan Maertens
Jan Maertens is a household name in the geotechnical world. His input was appreciated both in Belgium and the Netherlands and internationally.
In Memoriam Em. Prof. Jan Maertens
Jan Maertens is a household name in the geotechnical world. His input was appreciated both in Belgium and the Netherlands and internationally. He had built up his practically-oriented expertise in a very diverse career path. It all started at the National Institute for Soil Mechanics, where as a young engineer he worked under the tutelage of Prof. De Beer - godfather of soil mechanics in Belgium - was able to build up and deepen his theoretical knowledge. He was later able to use and further develop that knowledge in practical advice for construction projects of the Belgian government in the Bridges Bureau, where he could learn from the no-nonsense approach of Prof. Raedschelders.
His contacts with the construction industry subsequently led him to carrying out studies and monitoring construction projects at the Smet Boring company. There he was able to learn to manage geotechnical problems from the point of view of the implementers. He recognized the value of thorough implementation on site and therefore took the time to learn from the practical experience of the drillers. It remained a good habit throughout his career to have a chat with the technicians on construction sites.
Due to this dual approach, as client and as executor, Jan has followed the perfect path for a geotechnical consultant. The next logical step was to set up a geotechnical consultancy firm ourselves. In that context, he was involved in the design of various large projects and solving geotechnical problems and damage cases. You could always rely on Jan for well-founded and practically oriented solutions.
Another important facet of Jan's career is his never-ending commitment to sharing his knowledge, both in the academic world as a professor at KU Leuven, and in professional societies: the Geotechnics expert group of ie-net (Flemish engineering association), the BGGG (Belgian Grouping for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnics), RockEnGeo (Belgian Association for Engineering Geology and Rock Mechanics), the BGS (Belgian Geosynthetics Society), and the BVOTS (the Belgian Association for Underground Engineering and Urban Planning). He was chairman of the ie-net Geotechnical Expert Group, the BGS and the Belgian Committee of Engineering Geology (which later, together with the Belgian Grouping of Rock Mechanics, became RockEnGeo). In this capacity he has organized countless study days and has also given numerous lectures and training courses, always from a practical but also theoretically based point of view.
Jan was also active in international forums, including the ISSMGE working groups (chairmanship TC211 Ground Improvement for 8 years), the European standardization committee CEN TC288 “Execution of special geotechnical works” (chairmanship of the European standards committee for micropile technology, Belgian representative in the standards committee for ground anchors…).
The connection between geology and geotechnics was also self-evident to Jan. This is evidenced by, among other things, his important contribution to the preparation of the soil mechanical maps, an analogous predecessor of DOV (Databank Subsurface Flanders).
Listing all of Jan's achievements for the geotechnical world would lead us too far, but one thing is certain: you could always count on clear and no-nonsense contributions. The motto of writer Herman Teirlinck “Better to be shunned for my truth than sought for my appearance” was honored by Jan. Diplomacy was not his strongest gift, but when you got to know him better you felt the warm heart in the person Jan. And that is how we would like to remember Jan, as a passionate geotechnical expert and a warm person.