Name: Eddie Shaw Smith
Occupation: senior geotechnical engineer, FaberMaunsell
Route to the job: After graduating in engineering from Cambridge University in 1988 I took a year out. I travelled by train from Liverpool Street Station to Hong Kong and then spent a year working my way around Australia. When I got back I was offered two jobs: one with North Yorkshire County Council, the other with Soil Mechanics. I opted for the latter. After three years I did an MSc in foundation engineering at Birmingham University before returning to Hong Kong where I spent the next five years with Maunsell Geotechnical Services, including a spell working on the government's slope registration project. I came back to the UK in summer 2000, still with Maunsell, based in Beckenham. The work was immediately appealing: I've spent six months in Taiwan testing and designing piles in deep alluvial deposits for the High Speed Rail project, and a stint in the US on the Pittsburgh North Shore Connector which involves constructing a rail tunnel underneath the Allegheny River.
Typical day: My day involves designing and checking project work, and handling questions from clients and our in-house structural and environmental teams. All my site work has been excellent but especially inspecting the 125m high cut slope opposite Tsing Ma Bridge in Hong Kong and instrumenting and constructing a test pile in Taiwan.
Highs and lows: Highs include meeting new people, getting on a plane to some faraway place to help out a client and helping out new engineers in the office. Drowning in GI data isn't great and it's frustrating that geotechnics doesn't enjoy the high profile here that it does in Hong Kong. Public perception counts.
Ambitions: To be a respected and competent engineer and manager and to keep on improving. To be someone who can make things happen and inspire confidence in a client. I would also like to be seen as an inspiration to new graduates.
Advice: Don't assume that 'it's done that way because it's always been done that way'. Think for yourself and be innovative. Never stop talking to people and exchanging ideas. Always find out what's required and get to the fundamentals of a problem quickly.