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GE Jobfile

Name: Catherine Pill

Age:28

Occupation: geotechnical engineer, Arup Geotechnics

Route to the job:

I studied civil engineering at the University of Bristol, breaking the conventional full-time course to take a year out with Trafalgar House Construction and graduating in 1994.After another year on site, I joined the geotechnical division of Gibb.There I gained a broad range of experience in site investigation, seismic design, slope stability, reinforced earth, soil nailing, retaining walls and foundations.In 1999, I graduated with an MSc in soil mechanics and engineering seismology at Imperial College.Since then, I have managed geotechnical design, predominantly piling and deep basement projects for urban redevelopment.I joined Arup Geotechnics last November.

Typical day:

Work varies at different stages in each project.Initially, I produce a desk study to identify the key geotechnical issues.Next, I design and procure an appropriate site investigation.I interpret the results, determine feasible foundation options and discuss the conceptual design with the project team.I produce detailed design calculations but often I manage a small design team producing calculations, reports, specifications and drawings.I review tender submissions and advise in the selection process.Finally I put my site boots back on to supervise pile construction and testing.When several projects are all at different stages, my juggling skills are really put to the test.

Highs and lows:

Highs - keeping all the balls in the air at the same time.I enjoy the challenge of having to think on my feet.I love the fact that I am constantly learning, through my own experience and from colleagues.Lows - the battle to persuade the project team to involve geotechnical engineers from an early stage.

That, and commuting to London.

Ambitions:

To encourage more graduates into geotechnical engineering and help them develop their skills so I don't have to keep working overtime.I have had excellent support and training over the years and I think all budding geotechnical engineers should have the same opportunity.I would also like to travel more.

Advice:

Question everything that way you learn 'why'as well as 'how'and sometimes find better ways of doing things.Don't wait for opportunities to come to you sometimes you have to stick your neck out to get the most out of your job.

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