Soil compaction monitoring is critical to earthwork projects, including roadways, earth dams, and levees. Current methods require a halt of production, and provide at best sparse coverage. A system is proposed for static pad foot soil compaction to provide real-time feedback at higher spatial resolutions through machine integrated sensors. The system is composed of pad sensors that measure total normal force and contact stress distribution (CSD), laser sensors that measure soil deflection, and GPS to spatially reference measurements. By combining these measurements, soil stiffness and potentially modulus can be determined. This paper discusses the development of the force and CSD sensing pad. The concept is to instrument individual pads with strain gages to determine loading conditions. Modeling is used to inform strain gage positioning through pad strain behavior analysis of different simulated soil conditions. The finite element analysis (FEA) of a Caterpillar pad is discussed, including formulation and rationale for the various model parameters. The loading parameters are explained, including the range of force magnitudes experienced throughout compaction and the CSD elicited by various soils. The results of this analysis are presented, and show that pad strain is sensitive to both force magnitude and CSD. Specific strain trends are identified in the sidewall and bottom face of the pad which are particularly sensitive to the loading variables. Strain gage placements are proposed that capture the identified trends, thereby providing definitive information on total normal force and CSD.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.