Alan G. Young was born in Pittsburg, Texas in 1946. He received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University in 1970, MSc in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1971, and graduated from the Executive Management Program at Harvard Business School in 1991. He spent his entire professional career based out of Houston, Texas.
Inspired by the reading of Mr. Bram McClelland’s papers, he joined McClelland Engineers Inc. in 1971 as a project engineer. His first job was to work with Prof. Lymon Reese on the Ekofisk Gravity Base Foundation in the North Sea, performing finite element analyses and conducting cyclic triaxial testing to evaluate the liquefaction potential of the sands strata during storm loading.
Alan rose to the positions of Vice President in 1984, President of Fugro-McClelland Marine Geosciences in 1987, and President of Fugro International Inc. in 1992. Throughout his tenure with McClelland Engineers, he was a close associate of Mr. Bram McClelland and he helped establish the company as a worldwide leader in offshore geotechnics. In 1997 he co-founded and became Vice President of Geoscience Earth & Marine Services, Inc. (GEMS), a company established in Houston, TX.
For over 45 years Alan has been a major contributor to the advancement of offshore geotechnical engineering. His contributions have been worldwide, encompassing a wide range of technical, operational and business applications. He was a leading member of the team that developed the Remote Vane and performed the first offshore testing with the tool in 1972 at the Shell and Arco structure sites that failed in the South Pass area Gulf of Mexico (GoM) due to a mudslide.
Early in his career, he managed the Thistle field site investigation, performed foundation analyses for the first drilled and grouted piles used to support a fixed offshore platform in the North Sea, and led the integrated foundation studies for the Conoco Joliet Platform – the first TLP installed in the GoM.
Alan also managed the site investigation and foundation studies for Exxon and Chevron for the first deepwater structures installed offshore California and helped establish the practice and methods for conducting site investigation for offshore jack-up rigs and the procedures for analysing their foundation stability.
His contributions in the field of geotechnical site investigation have been substantial. In addition to the Remote Vane, he developed and patented the concept of the offshore mini-Cone Penetration Test (CPT), managed the development of the Dolphin downhole CPT and sampling system, established the method of push sampling with a standard rotary drilling rig without motion compensation equipment, and, most importantly, implemented the use of these key technology advancements in standard offshore site investigations.
Alan also conceived and patented the concept of the DeepSea CPT and promoted its development with a Joint Industry Program (JIP). He also helped develop and patent a method for using seismic amplitudes for extrapolating strength and other soil properties. As the industry moved into ever increasing water depths he saw the potential of the Jumbo Piston Core sampler, a tool until then confined to usage by Academia. He pioneered its implementation for deepwater site investigations through an industry JIP. He helped develop the concept of the CPT Stinger which is now increasingly used in projects in the GoM and offshore West Africa. His innovative talents were critical in developing and patenting the concept of the Spear Anchor (Omni-Max Anchor) by performing testing and analytical studies that led to its use in the GoM.
Not content with revolutionising offshore sampling and in-situ testing practices, Alan has always been driven to optimize the benefit of these data by understanding how they could be used and applied over large seafloor areas. So he became a pioneer in integrated geoscience studies, a now ubiquitous activity in deepwater field developments, where a team of specialists in such areas as geology, environmental science, geophysics, geochemistry, oceanography, and geotechnics coordinate their efforts to yield a single, comprehensive study of the past, current, and future ground conditions at a site of interest.
He has been instrumental in implementing and leading integrated studies for numerous deepwater projects including Mad Dog, Atlantis, Mad Dog 2, Thunder Horse, Shenzhi, Blind Faith, Neptune, Puma, Tahiti, Stones, Kaskida, Who Dat, Great White, Tubular Bells, Delta House, Joliet, Thunder Hawk, Cascade, and Heidelberg.
Alan’s areas of expertise include: 1) offshore geotechnical analyses and geohazard assessment, 2) marine foundation analyses of seafloor and subsurface installations and mobile jack-up rigs, 3) specialized laboratory testing and strength interpretation for different sampling and in situ testing methods, and 4) planning and managing marine operations involving geophysical and geotechnical investigations.
His work has resulted in more than 50 journal and conference publications with two of his papers receiving the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) Best Paper award and three others receiving the ASCE/OTC Hall of Fame Award. In addition he has been the author and coauthor on two books and most recently contributed two chapters in Deepwater Foundations and Pipeline Geomechanics.
Alan has served the industry through his memberships in many committees. In particular, he joined the American Petroleum Institute (API) committee on offshore geotechnics and foundation in 1978 and remained a member for 39 years, the longest tenure on record, during which he made great contributions to the Foundation Section of the API Recommended Practice for Planning, Designing, and Constructing Fixed Offshore Platforms.
Alan also served as member of the Society of Underwater Technology OSIG Committee, the Oceanographic Department Steering Committee at Texas A & M University, the Marine Board of the National Research Council – Executive Committee and as Lecturer for the University of Texas at Austin Short Courses on Design of Fixed Platforms and Design of Floating Production Systems.
He has delivered many invited lectures and chaired numerous sessions at industry conferences. In 2012 he received the Distinguished Graduate award from Texas A&M’s Zachry Department of Civil Engineering.
Alan tirelessly seeks to recognize his colleagues in the industry. He has chaired the ASCE OTC Hall of Fame Awards Committee for nine years and spends an enormous amount of time and energy to select key historical OTC publications so that their authors are honoured at a special ceremony.
Alan has also been an extraordinary mentor for generations of geotechnical engineers. It is remarkable that, over the years, roughly 200 engineers have been hired or mentored by Alan, who always looked out to give the best and brightest engineers their first chance in the industry, all the while keeping a keen eye for diversity and inclusion.
In October 2015, the United States Board on Geographic Names approved the naming of an underwater feature in the Gulf of Mexico as “Young Knoll” to honor Alan’s Major Contributions Advancing Geological and Geotechnical Engineering Knowledge of the Seafloor in the Gulf of Mexico. Young Knoll (Lat: 26° 08′ 00″ N, Long: 093° 01′ 00″ W) is fittingly located along the Sigsbee escarpment, which has been the focus of several of Alan’s studies, in 2,000m of waters in Block KC810 of the Keathley Canyon area. It is truly a special recognition and the first time that a geotechnical engineer is honored in such a way.
Alan and his beloved wife of 46 years, Melinda Marie, live in Sugar Land, TX. Melinda is a retired kindergarten teacher, and they have three sons: Russell, Matthew, and Samuel and four grandchildren.
Over more than twenty years, I have had the privilege and honor to work with Alan on many challenging deepwater projects. It is therefore with great pride and pleasure that I, on behalf of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering and its Technical Committee 209 on Offshore Geotechnics, hereby present him with the Fourth ISSMGE McClelland Lecture award.
Philippe Jeanjean, Ph. D., P.E., M. ASCE
Chairman, ISSMGE TC209, Offshore Geotechnics
With contributions from Dr. J.D. (Don) Murff, First McClelland Lecturer, who was lab partner with Alan during their first soil mechanics course at Texas A&M University in 1968.