The geosynthetics field has lost one of its champions in the Americas. On April 8, consulting engineer and educator Rafael Rocha passed away.
Rocha was a constant fixture at geosynthetics events in North America and an avid supporter of technology transfer and the International Geosynthetics Society (IGS). For more than 20 years, he worked hard to improve the availability of training seminars throughout his home country (Mexico) and in the Americas in general. One of his important contributions remains the promotion of geosynthetic installation expertise, through collaboration with the International Association of Geosynthetic Installers (IAGI) and its Certified Welding Technician (CWT) program.
“Rafael was a driving force for the use and acceptance of geosynthetics in Mexico and the surrounding region,” wrote IAGI Managing Director Laurie Honnigford in a post on the association’s website. “Rafael was an enthusiastic supporter of IAGI and IGS.”
He was also well-known for conducting his business with a smile and with patience. He was a man who enjoyed dialogue—precisely what he wanted for the field of geosynthetics too. He wanted people to talk, share ideas, and help one another improve their practices and understanding of how to best select and implement these engineered technologies.
“Rafael will be missed by those of us fortunate enough to have known him,” Honnigford wrote. “I know many people in the Geosynthetics industry have a special place in our memories. May the families and friends of Rafael find comfort.”
Among those we extend our sympathies to is Rafael’s daughter, Irene Rocha, who along with Fernando Cruz runs Seicsa Proyectos Ambientales SA de CV, an award-winning geosynthetics company in Mexico. Seicsa provides barrier system solutions and installation expertise. It also promotes training for enhanced geosynthetic installation expertise, following the energy and encouragement Rafael Rocha gave the field through his consulting work.
(Editor’s note: I have worked in geosynthetics for nearly 16 years. Rafael Rocha was one of the first in the field to extend a greeting to me when I started out. I sat down with him for the first time in, I believe, 2003 in Atlanta. This began many years in which we would meet at events to trade information on what was occurring in the field and what needed more attention. I am grateful for the times we shared and extend my deepest sympathies to Irene and Fernando. – Chris Kelsey)