January/February 2023 - 68

that is where he has stayed. His career
really took off following his return
when he rose to the position of
principal and partner in 2002 and
remained as such until the end of 2020.
From May 2015 to May 2020, he was
president and chair of the board.
Today, he enjoys his new role as
technical specialist and the opportunity
to mentor staff. He takes
mastering people skills seriously. In
2019 he completed a 3-year counsellor
training program, receiving a diploma
in transpersonal therapeutic counselling.
Tara says, " Developing soft skills
is really important to all aspects of our
careers and to being a good human
being. A big part of soft skills and the
counsellor training is knowing yourself,
as you can't really know others if
you don't know yourself. Unfortunately,
we don't make a lot of room
for this sort of work in our current
university training model and once we
start our careers.
" What motivates me to do what I do
at Thurber is working with staff,
contractors and other consultants to
find solutions to the problems faced by
the industry. I particularly enjoy
working on projects that involve people
issues as well as designing, installing
Tara and his son, Kalen, land a 25lb " Spring Salmon "
and testing pile foundations where I get
to share my knowledge and the
opportunity to learn. "
Challenges in the Profession
One of the challenges in the profession
that he finds to be particularly interesting
is the use of and dependence
upon computers. He recalls how years
ago computers were used solely for
doing complex engineering calculations.
Today, with the development of
all kinds of sophisticated software, they
are used for virtually all analyses.
While computers are essential to
today's practice, he feels that " we need
to be aware of their limitations and to
keep things simple. The ability to
simplify in order to facilitate understanding
is really beneficial as practitioners.
Now, I see us drowning in
information and at the same time I see
lots of great data from projects that goes
unused. As an industry we need to
spend time making sense of the data,
this includes back-analyzing data, if we
are to move the profession forward. "
When it comes to young engineers,
he sees issues with some not wanting to
spend time in the field to see how things
work, especially on the construction
side. He says, " It's hard to design
something without thinking about how
it will be constructed. This is why I
think that it is particularly valuable to
work with contractors. This reminds
me of Terzaghi's famous dictum, 'Don't
design something on paper that you
have to wish into the ground.' "
He also sees challenges on the
regulatory side that tends to involve a
good deal of " the equivalent of paperwork
and reporting, " but not always
adding value to the project or the
profession. Not an uncommon perception
in the industry.
DFI Offers Opportunities
After attending a DFI workshop, David
became a DFI member in the mid-2010s
and promptly joined the DFI Testing and
Evaluation Committee. He has enjoyed
its collegial interactions and technical
initiatives, and currently leads a small
group tasked with developing generic
training for users and specifiers of highstrain
dynamic testing, an area of
particular interest to him.
A Man of Many Interests
In light of all of his professional
responsibilities it is a wonder that he
has managed to make time for a
number of recreational pursuits. He
notes, " I think that it is important to
have fun and keep on learning. I also
feel that learning in totally unrelated
areas is good for the brain. " He is an avid
mountain bike rider, enjoys paddling
both kayaks and stand-up paddle
boards, snowshoes, explores the back
country in his off-road-capable SUV,
and somehow works in hunting wild
mushrooms, gardening and fishing
when he can.
Tara's own words offer a fitting
close to this profile, he says, " Stay
curious, get to know yourself, keep up
with things both inside and outside of
your immediate field, and develop your
soft skills. " It is clear that David Tara
has accomplished that which he
recommends.
68 * DEEP FOUNDATIONS * JAN/FEB 2023

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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