Caulmert Graduate Geologist, Amy Pritchett, writes about her experience of studying for a Masters degree in Engineering Geology.
I joined Caulmert’s Bangor office as a ‘Graduate Geologist’ after completing my degree in Geology at the University of Aberdeen. In my role, I am responsible for various tasks such as organising and supervising ground investigations, data handling, test scheduling, report writing, and client communication.
After working at Caulmert for a few months, I felt that doing a master’s degree in ‘Engineering Geology’ seemed like a natural progression in my development. The master’s would give a higher technical understanding of the sorts of problems I was tackling in the field and within interpretation.
Studying part-time whilst working has enabled me to gain real practical experience working in the industry whilst developing and applying technical knowledge acquired from the degree course.
Caulmert’s input into my development has been fantastic from the start, sponsoring me to attend CPD courses in geotechnics, soil description and contamination testing, before going on to sponsor my master’s degree at Newcastle University. Over the past 18 months, the knowledge and skills I have gained through my degree, along with brilliant and invaluable mentoring from Caulmert geotechnical engineers, Alan Jones and Geraint Roberts, has allowed me to make a positive contribution to the geotechnical department.
Most of my work begins with a desk study followed by a planned ground investigation. I have been lucky enough to supervise a variety of investigations which have required, trial pitting, window sampling and cable percussive drilling. These works involve overseeing the works and logging soil and rock across a site to characterise the geotechnical and geochemical properties for interpretation. This type of investigative work can be implemented to support development, flood defence, slope stability and infrastructure (to name a few).
Being based in North Wales has meant that a lot of my site work has been based within beautiful landscapes, such as Snowdonia, the Llŷn Peninsula, and various locations on Anglesey. These places offer their own unique challenges in terms of geology and logistics.
I am currently about to start a large site investigation in West Yorkshire, in bid to map and characterise ground conditions at an old coalfield. The site is huge (c.57 acres!) and is speckled with mapped and unmapped coal mining features. It will be my first time working on a site of this scale and will be incredibly useful in developing my ground modelling skills and support my overall progression as an engineering geologist. I am looking forward to supervising an array of ground investigative techniques to reveal the concealed history of the site and developing the site ground model over the course of the investigation.
My studies and work have really complemented each other and led me to gain experience I would not have done prior to starting work. Balancing full-time work with study has taken a little getting used to, but it has given me a newfound appreciation for time. I can safely say over the past 18 months I have become much more efficient and confident within my work and learnt that geotechnics provides a dynamic environment and really is a dark art! I am looking forward to new challenges and insights over the coming months.
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