Synonymous to the notion of stability, geotechnical engineering has always been regarded as the discipline, which ensures that the ground is stable and safe for construction of super-structures and embankments. Evolving from the early theory on soil mechanics, this discipline has evolved to break new grounds. This is to ensure that existing slopes do not fail, existing foundations remain intact, and the aspirations of architects and super-structure engineers able to be fulfilled with a firm foundation assured by able geotechnical engineers.
Incessant requirement for land development has required geotechnical engineers to explore possibilities of construction being done on very soft and in the past, unsuitable soil, as well as on reclaimed land off the sea-shores.
As most other civil engineering disciplines require a firm foundation to work on, geotechnical engineering has become very central to the choice of alignment and highway design, challenges of tunnelling, and embankment requirement to support the highway construction. As human civilisation becomes more complex, this area also needs to find novel ways for soil stabilisation, slope stability, and foundation enforcement. Issues related to river engineering and coastal erosion also requires the contribution of geotechnical engineers. In discipline terms, geotechnical engineering covers the issues and theories behind soil mechanics, soil stabilisation, soil reinforcement, slope stability, design, construction, maintenance and rehabilitation of sub-structures, the environmental concerns of geotechnical engineering, and the safety aspects of the discipline.