Zygmunt Lubkowski, 35, is an associate at Arup Geotechnics and leader of the firm's geotechnical seismic engineering group.
Route to job I graduated from Kingston Polytechnic in 1987 with a first degree in civil engineering and joined Building Design Partnership in London. My early experience was on the Folkestone terminal of the Channel Tunnel, where I contributed to the design of the earthworks, cut and cover tunnels and retaining structures.
After about three years I noticed an advertisement in NCE which I could not resist: to join Arup and work towards a MSc in earthquake engineering at Bristol University.
The research was to develop geotechnical seismic capabilities in the non-linear finite element code LS-DYNA.
Expectations The expression 'somewhat daunting' springs to mind. Apart from some minor checks for the Channel Tunnel terminal's earthworks, I had no specific seismic experience and had not done any finite element work since my college days. I was, however, thrilled at the opportunity to work and study in the field of earthquake engineering both with Arup and at Bristol University with the chance to learn from some of the UK's leading specialists.
The reality Following the completion of my research I took my place in the geotechnical seismic engineering group, which I now lead. My team is involved in projects worldwide, for different client sectors and in different skill areas. This all leads to a very hectic but rewarding schedule. Our projects include geohazard and seismic risk studies, new buildings and industrial structures, new bridges and infrastructure projects, offshore platforms and onshore power stations and the assessment and retrofit of existing structures.
In addition I try to ensure that we continue to improve both our technical skills and keep abreast of recent research.
The earthquake in Izmit, Turkey, in August 1999 has contributed significantly to my recent workload.
This has included the geo-seismic design and assessments of port, factory and petrochemical facilities and the development of a reconstruction plan for the Yalova region.
Advice I feel very lucky to be working in such an interesting and challenging field and believe I am fairly privileged to do my job while sitting some distance from the major seismic zones.
The best opportunities are available, in my opinion, by studying or working in a highly seismic region, such as California. This will expose you not only to the latest research but also to an engineering culture where earthquake loading is the major consideration.