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Geotechnical Engineer

Geotechnical Engineer

Aaron Fox, Opus International Consultants

Earning: $45-55,000
In a nutshell: Designing building foundations, bridges, retaining walls and slip repairs.
Why? “I get to go outside a lot and I enjoy the technical work.”

Pathway Bethlehem College, Year 13: Chemistry, Physics, Calculus, Statistics, English
University of Auckland: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) majoring in Civil Engineering

Before a new bridge or building can go up, engineers need to ensure that the foundation is strong enough to support it.  Aaron Fox is one of the people who addresses this issue.

Aaron is a graduate geotechnical engineer at Opus.  He analyses the soil of construction sites and uses the results to design foundations and retaining walls for buildings and bridges. He also designs repair solutions for land slips.

“I’ve done quite a lot of work in relation to landslide repairs, designing retaining walls to prevent further landslides or fix where a landslide has already occurred. My time is split about 50/50 between the site and the office, inspecting foundations and writing reports.  I get to go outside a lot and I enjoy the technical work.”

Maths is an important subject for this job, as he often works with formulas and calculations to determine the quality of the soil.  He also uses computer software and a range of on-site technology, such as hand augurs that give him a quick look at the soil profile.

Each project has its own unique challenges, so innovative thinking is also a must.  “It’s quite creative.  There are opportunities for innovation with particular designs, as no two sites are the same.”

Aaron is picking up the practical aspects of working in an industry environment, including developing his communication skills and learning to ask questions when he’s not sure of something.  As his career progresses, he’ll have the opportunity to move into management, or find a job overseas.  For now, he enjoys working on projects that have clear benefits for the city of Auckland.

“The project I have recently worked on is the Kingsland Railway Station.  I did the wall designs and pile inspections.  It’s a big piece of infrastructure and it’s satisfying to see the results.”

Posted October 2011

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