Civil Engineering – Geotechnical

Mike is our Geotechnical instructor for the DTC Civil PE Exam Review courses. Mike is a working geotechnical engineer who also has a passion for teaching and shares his unique insights in his course materials.


I’m Mike Batten, a Civil Engineer specializing in Geotechnical Engineering. I am responsible for the geotechnical subsurface explorations and foundation design for a wide variety of civil infrastructure projects. My experience is largely focused in transportation projects such as deep foundation designs for long span overwater bridges and roadway embankments as well as solid waste landfills. My transportation-related design work typically requires the use of reliability based analyses such as Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD), but more conventional projects require the use of allowable stress design (ASD). On a typical work day I could be in the field directing a drill rig in a subsurface exploration, installing geotechnical subsurface instrumentation, monitoring deep foundation installations, or observing static load tests on deep foundations. I might also be in the office crunching numbers for a foundation design in Mathcad, Excel, or a variety of other specialty geotechnical software packages. My work in geotechnical engineering keeps me on my toes from one day to the next, never knowing where I might be, and what I could be doing for any given project, based on client needs.

For the PE exam, the primary focus of the material is on geotechnical engineering as it is applied to foundations for vertical construction, dams and levees, and field and laboratory soil testing. Most of my materials focus on how to solve these types of problems as quickly as possible, and do not focus on how these types of problems are solved in practice. Geotechnical engineering requires a great deal of interpretation and engineering judgment of subsurface conditions based on experience with specific geologic areas, but the PE exam is very prescriptive and generally does not give allowance for different approaches to problems that could yield different numerical results. It is imperative that you have an understanding of the methodologies discussed in this course, even if you have other methods to solve the problems at work, since this course is tailored to the exam rather than the standard of practice in the geotechnical industry. The PE exam is not a test designed for brilliant engineers, it is a test designed for organized engineers so we are going to get you organized.”

– Mike

Mike is a geotechnical engineering consultant with HDR Engineering in Raleigh, North Carolina. He graduated with both a B.S. and a Master of Civil Engineering from NC State University, and is a registered Professional Engineer in North Carolina and California. He has held key roles on several large scale design-build geotechnical engineering projects in the transportation industry such as the Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement Project near New York City, and the Bonner Bridge Replacement Project in the North Carolina Outer Banks, as well as conventional geotechnical transportation projects and numerous solid waste landfill projects. In his spare time, he enjoys working on carpentry projects in his wood shop at home.



Becoming a Professional Engineer has enabled me to participate in a number of extraordinary projects throughout my career. These range from as simple as performing the foundation design for a local university parking deck to as complicated as performing foundation design and oversight on the replacement of the Bonner Bridge in North Carolina and replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York. I’ve personally driven over these bridges multiple times, and I have friends and relatives that drive them on a regular basis and always comment on construction progress, and how magnificent these structures actually are. Without becoming a Professional Engineer, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to participate in such extraordinary engineering projects. My PE registration has given me a chance to make a positive impact on the public and has given me great stories that I can share with my children.

– Mike