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Turning the tide

Names & Faces - Reaching the shortlist for a major design award has done wonders for Chris Austin's career.

Chris Austin admits that being shortlisted for last year's Emerging Engineering Design Awards has been a good career booster.

'It raised my profile, and gave me more scope for selecting which projects I want to be involved in. It's also helped me land bigger jobs where I'm taking more responsibility, ' he says.

The Halcrow engineer was shortlisted for his work on the River Gaunless flood defence system in County Durham.

In the last year Austin has been project managing a £6M upgrade of the flood defence barrier on the River Hull, and a £500,000 feasibility study into impounding the tidal reaches of the same river to create a permanent freshwater basin, reaching in Hull city centre.

'I'm involved in the refurbishment of the mechanical and electrical systems on the existing barrage, ' he says. 'I'll be the one steering the project right through to the preparation of the tender documents.'

'With the feasibility study, we're investigating the environmental, economic and social impacts, as well as the ood mitigation potential, of impounding the River Hull.

'The river's a tributary of the Humber. When the tide is high it forms a basin, but at low tide you're left with ugly mud ats.

'A new barrier would provide a constant water level, rather than having the present 6m tidal rise and fall. I'm working with technical, environmental, property and economic consultants. We're looking at turning the river into an asset, something people actually want to live next to.' Austin describes himself as someone who gets things done 'by adopting a very 'hands on' approach.

'I want to be involved, and I want to see results'.

l Are you the best civil engineering designer of your generation? Find out by entering the Emerging Engineering Design Awards. Closing date for entries: 27 July. Details at www. uk/eeda

Q&A Chris Austin

Why are you a civil engineer?

I like to see things built and make a difference to a person, community or environment.

Will you be entering EEDA again this year?

I'm only 30, so I'll be a potential contender for the award for another decade - but not this year.

Why not?

I'm getting married in September, and moving house.

Career high: The River Gaunless flood defence system.

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