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Ken Bean, 1979, aged 26

Now: Managing director of Golder Associates in UK and Germany.

Qualifications: DPhil, CEng/MICE.

Winning paper: Non-destructive density measurement techniques for examining effective stress development in soft soils.

Then: Working on my PhD at University of Oxford with Dr Gillian Sills.

Afterwards: After completing my PhD I failed to obtain a work permit in the UK, but was offered a job with Golder Associates in Calgary and emigrated to Canada. After 10 very interesting years working mainly on offshore exploration projects (sand islands and ice islands), I was transferred to Germany to work on oil and gas reservoir testing and modelling for two years. In 1993, still with Golder, I came back to the UK to work in fractured rock modelling for nuclear waste disposal. I have also undertaken several assignments as geotechnical specialist for projects on reclaimed land in Hong Kong, specifically the Lantau-Airport railway and a maintenance hangar for the new airport.

Professional highs: Construction of first spray ice island for oil exploration in the Arctic (1986). Saving our client (MTRC) large amounts of money by redesigning a cut and cover tunnel in West Kowloon reclamation.

On the downside: When a previously failed slope, which I redesigned, failed a second time after heavy rain. Client had to buy land at crest of slope in the end (but didn't sue us!).

Did winning have an impact on your career? I cannot say it did - in Canada there was really not much knowledge of the Cooling Prize. I didn't ever ask whether I was offered a job as a consequence of it.

How did you spend the prize money? Can't remember, probably on consumables.

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