Geotechnical Engineer

A Geotechnical Engineer will use the principles of soil mechanics and rock mechanics to investigate the soil and other components of the earth and thereby determine the properties of these materials. This would enable the Geotechnical Engineer to determine whether a particular project site would be suitable for a specific project. The Geotechnical Engineer would then also be able to work with the lay of the land to ensure the best result. For this reason Geotechnical Engineers have always played an important role in the design and operation of mines.

Typical Duties

  • Investigate the various components of the earth including the soil and rock fault distribution to determine their engineering properties
  • Provide the roads, the foundations, the ponds, and a host of other infrastructure facilities for the mine
  • Review the project needs and assess risks posed by site conditions, including materials assessment, design research and structural analysis
  • Complete risk assessment
  • Design earthworks and structure foundations
  • Monitor site conditions
  • Make major changes to the physical environment where the mine site would be located, which may include tunnelling and the construction of major structures
  • Use specialised computer software
  • Work closely with Geological Engineers, Mining Engineers, Hydrogeologist’s and other earth science professionals
  • Complete field testing to determine slope factors, erosion and other factors
  • Do feasibility studies and reports
  • Devise methods to deal with the wastes of ore removal and mineral extraction

Working Conditions

  • A Geotechnical Engineer would spent some time in an office and time in the field
  • Geotechnical Engineers may also be required to spend a fair amount of time on the mine site. Depending on the type of mine, the
  • Geotechnical Engineer may spend time in the open, above ground, or underground where it can be cramped and hot
  • Production sites can be remotely located and can be hot and noisy, and Engineers may be required to wear protective glasses and clothing
  • Geotechnical Engineers may be required from time to time to travel to and stay away from home for extended periods. They may be required to live on site away from home, or to work on a fly in fly out basis. FIFO commonly involves flying in for a certain period of time whilst the Geotechnical Engineer would be on site, and then flying home for periods when they are off work
  • Geotechnical Engineers may get to see the world as if working for large international companies, their job will often involve international travel

Educational Requirements

  • Students interested in Geotechnical Engineering programs should take courses in mathematics, science and computing in high school
  • A four to five year Bachelor’s Degree in in Geotechnical Engineering would be required
  • Should you be interested in a Research or Academic position, it will require a Doctorate or Master's degree
  • Many of the more senior positions also require an advanced degree
  • Geotechnical Engineers will generally have to have a strong background in Math, Science and Computing
  • Specialised onsite training is often required

Personal Attributes

  • Have an interest in working with math, science and computers
  • Have an interest in the environment and technology and how they can fit together
  • Have an elevated sense of respect for safety procedures and regulations
  • Be able to embrace new techniques and technologies
  • Be able to work under pressure
  • Have a good work ethic and be goal oriented
  • Have a sense of adventure and be able to spend extended periods of time away from home
  • Have good management skills and be able to work in a team

Compensation

  • Geotechnical Engineers typically command good salaries
  • Engineers across the board are renowned to earn high salaries, and Geotechnical Engineers are no exception and often earn more than other engineering professionals
  • They spend many years studying, work hard and often have to make sacrifices in times of time spent away from their families, and for this reason it’s important that they are adequately compensated

Salary

  • Find out more about salaries here.

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