Name: Sher Baluch
Occupation: independent consulting geotechnical engineer
Route to the job: 'After obtaining a BSc (Hons) in geology from the Panjab University in 1971 I joined Italian contractor Impregilo to work on Pakistan's Tarbela Dam. Upon completion of works at Lar Dam, Iran, I left Impregilo to do an MSc in engineering geology at Imperial College. I graduated in 1983, joined Mott MacDonald and worked on dam projects in Algeria, Ethiopia and Botswana. I became an independent consultant in 1991 andhave been working in expert and managerial capacities, mostly on dam and hydropower projects for Lahmeyer International, in Lesotho, Iran and Pakistan. I'm now working for Coyne et Bellier at the Berke Dam in Turkey.My role involves dealing with geotechnical and geological aspects of the project including construction of a 500,000 m 2grout curtain in a karst environment.'
Typical day: 'My daily workload may involve site evaluations in remote areas, on-site supervision, presentations, client contact and contracts management. I make a point of dealing personally with a substantial input involving geotechnical components even when working in a management capacity.'
Highs and lows: 'Clients' awareness of the critical role geotechnics play in the development of hydropower and water resource projects is encouraging. In many developing countries, a careful hydropower development means use of this renewable resource to replace fossil and nuclear fuel which accelerates industrial and infrastructure development. Sadly, under-utilisation of hydropower potential, especially those involving high head schemes, is impeding development in some countries.'
Ambitions: 'To continue to work on the development and implementation of high head hydropower projects in developing countries. These projects are usually in remote areas with difficult ground conditions, and provide challenging investigation and design opportunities that require innovative geotechical solutions.'
Advice: 'Those of us involved with geotechnics need to play a leading role in large civil engineering projects so that qualitative and quantitative geotechnical input is better utilised. To achieve this, we have to develop a better understanding of the multidisciplinary engineering requirements.'