The Deep Foundation Institute’s membership has voted to elect two new members to the group’s board of trustees. Newly elected trustees Silas Nichols, PE, of the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Infrastructure, and Kathryn Petek, Ph.D., PE, of Shannon & Wilson, begin their terms on Jan. 1, 2024.

Members also voted to re-elect four trustees to new 3-year terms.

Nichols serves as the principal geotechnical engineer for the FHWA’s Office of Infrastructure. He’s responsible for providing leadership and direction for the FHWA National Geotechnical Team through policy support, technical developments, and coordination with industry and professional groups. In a release, DFI described his international esteem for accomplishments related to design and construction, risk in project delivery and quality assurance in foundation construction. Nichols is a certified instructor and master trainer for the National Highway Institute (NHI) and teaches classes part-time at the University of Delaware. He has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Syracuse University, and a master’s degree in geotechnical engineering from Tufts University.

Petek is a senior associate geotechnical engineer at Shannon & Wilson with over 18 years of experience in design, construction and research. She has led numerous transportation infrastructure projects that include design and construction of bridges and approach structures. Petek served as principal investigator for the recently completed FHWA research study on bearing resistance of large-diameter, open-end piles, and has unique expertise related to design, construction and load testing of large-diameter deep foundations. She is a member of the DFI Driven Pile, Drilled Shaft and Women in Deep Foundations committees, and was the co-technical program chair for the 2023 DFI Annual Conference on Deep Foundations. She earned a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Michigan, and master’s and doctorate degrees in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Washington.

The four trustees who were re-elected to serve another term are: John Anderson, Specrete-IP; Allen Cadden, PE, BC.GE, Schnabel Engineering; Lucky Nagarajan, Geocomp; and Kwabena Ofori-Awuah, PE, BC.GE, ENV SP, Koforia.

The DFI is an international association of contractors, engineers, academics and suppliers in the deep foundations industry with more than 4,000 members worldwide. For more information about the Deep Foundations Institute, visit