January/February 2023 - 67

David Tara, P.Eng.,
MEMBER PROF I LE
d
a Multidimensional Engineer
David Tara's current title is " technical
specialist " and review engineer with
Thurber Engineering, but that is only
his latest. He has applied his technical
skills to a vast range of projects including
building foundations, shoring
design, retaining structures, marine
facilities, transportation and municipal
infrastructure, land development,
sinkhole management, and slope
hazard mitigation. He has also authored
or co-authored 14 published papers.
Read on for the full story.
Founded in 1957, Thurber is a
Canadian multidisciplinary geotechnical
and environmental engineering
firm. Headquartered in Edmonton,
Alberta, it has branch offices throughout
Canada. Thurber offers services in
geotechnical and environmental engineering,
deep foundations and shoring
design and testing, construction materials
testing, municipal infrastructure,
transportation, dams, hydrology, land
development, mining, oil and gas, and
marine structures.
Tara works out of Thurber's Vancouver
branch, and, as a reflection of the
multidisciplinary nature of the company's
work, he is a geotechnical
engineer with knowledge of many
disciplines. Design and testing of driven
pile foundations is one area of particular
interest. However, to focus on one of the
disciplines in his technical portfolio
would be an injustice as he has taken a
lead role in many aspects of Thurber's
geotechnical engineering spectrum. For
this story, we are focusing on Tara's
career progression from junior engineer
to senior reviewer, and highlighting the
knowledge gained from his vast
experience. The purely " engineering "
aspect of his focus is only one of many.
AUTHOR S. Scot Litke, Hon. D.GE
DEEP FOUNDATIONS * JAN/FEB 2023 * 67
challenges associated with the design
process, whether they are the inputs or
range and limitations of the methods
coupled with the observational approach
during construction, were what
hooked me. "
Upon graduation from UBC and
confronting a weak job market, he
dec ided that thi s would be an
opportune time to pursue graduate
studies. In 1984, he enrolled at the
Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec
where he studied both foundation
engineering and French. He notes that
Canada is a country with two languages,
and this was an excellent opportunity to
become comfortable in both.
At Sherbrooke he studied under the
The Way It Happened
Tara received his undergraduate degree
in civil engineering from the University
of British Columbia (UBC) in 1984.
Having grown up near the coast and
being interested in " all things water, "
including coastal engineering, he
originally thought he would focus his
career on the hydrotechnical side of
civil engineering. One of his early
mentors, Tom Varzeliotis, with whom
he would discuss food, wine and
politics, was a hydrotechnical engineer
and, as a young man, Tara was always
around boats and even spent five
summers working in the commercial
fishing industry whi le going to
university. This interest carried on
until his fourth year at UBC when he
took a course on foundation design with
Peter Robertson, Ph.D. Exposure to this
subject, and Robertson's passion,
influenced Tara's thinking about what
area of specialization would interest
him the most. It turned out to be
foundation engineering. He says, " The
late Jean-Paul Morin, Ph.D. When
recounting this work, Tara says, " Dr.
Morin really took me under his wing.
Having worked in industry, he taught
deep foundations with insight and
passion. He made deep foundations
real. " It was during this time that Morin
introduced Tara to industry icon Bengt
Fellenius, Ph.D., who was at the
University of Ottawa. Tara states " Bengt
has been a great inspiration to me
throughout my career. Bengt takes the
time to connect and discuss real
engineering problems as well as life. "
A Rewarding Career
Once Tara completed his academic
studies it was time to put it all to use. He
worked for two years in Montreal with
Lupien Rosenberg and Associates and
then for Klohn Leonoff in Richmond,
British Columbia. In 1990 he joined
Thurber and, with the exception of a
couple of years working for Interior
Testing Services in Kelowna, British
Columbia, from late 1998 to early 2001,

January/February 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of January/February 2023

TOC
January/February 2023 - Intro
January/February 2023 - 1
January/February 2023 - 2
January/February 2023 - TOC
January/February 2023 - 4
January/February 2023 - 5
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