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Fiona Chow, 1995, aged 25

Now: Senior geotechnical engineer, Geotechnical Consulting Group.

Qualifications: MA, Msc, DIC, PhD.

Winning paper: Field measurements of stress interaction between displacement piles in sand.

Then: PhD research assistant at Imperial College

Afterwards: Completed my PhD at Imperial and co-authored New design methods for offshore piles, with Richard Jardine. For the last two years I have been with GCG in London, giving advice on onshore and offshore pile behaviour, supervision of grouting works, and research into railway embankments. Before my MSc and PhD at Imperial, I spent two years with Ove Arup & Partners in London. Before that I was an engineering undergraduate at Cambridge.

Professional highs:

Having contributed to a new and more reliable design method for displacement piles which is being used in offshore foundation design.

On the downside: Being stuck at the top of an embankment, digging up ash in the middle of a hailstorm.

Did winning have an impact on your career? Yes - it gave me confidence in making presentations and dealing with questions.

How did you spend the prize money? Beers and books.

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