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Duncan Nicholson, aged 24, 1974

Now: Director, Ove Arup & Partners, London.

Qualifications: Msc, DIC, CEng, MICE.

Winning paper: The estimation of soil modulus from 200mm diameter borehole plate bearing tests.

Then: Graduate engineer (from Portsmouth), indentured to George Wimpey & Co and working as a structural design engineer.

Afterwards: Moved to Wimpey Laboratories, and in 1976 did a masters in soil mechanics at Imperial College. Then joined Ove Arup as a geotechnical engineer, becoming an associate director in 1987 and a director in 1996.

Professional highs: Queensborough bypass embankments in Hong Kong and Newton Station Singapore, and the development of the observational method.

On the downside: Death of John Mitchell on site at Vintners Place in London. Inability to get any long term settlement record monitoring on raft foundations in London Clay.

Did winning have an impact on your career? As a result I transferred to Wimpey Laboratories, where I revealed how little I knew.

How did you spend the prize money? Terzaghi & Peck's book.

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