What is your favourite structure to design?
My favourite structures to design, especially in my current role at Bachy Soletanche, are retaining walls and shafts. The appeal of these structures lies in their complexity, both in terms of design and their various stages of construction. What fascinates me most is the process of determining the most appropriate construction method, such as the secant piling and diaphragm wall panelling sequences. From soil conditions to environmental considerations, these structures offer unique challenges that make for a dynamic design process.
What is the most challenging project that you have worked on?
Undoubtedly, the most challenging project I have worked on so far has been HS2 N1/N2. This project pushed the boundaries of my expertise, for example, designing secant wing walls comprising deep, heavily-reinforced piles with full segmental casing. The complexity and intensity of the works were significant and I encountered various obstacles that tested my problem-solving skills and technical knowledge.
A standout challenge at HS2 was designing and monitoring bi-directional tests using Osterberg cells (O-cells). This task was not only technically demanding but also a rare opportunity in geotechnical engineering. My role in designing the O-cell reinforcement cages and periodic site visits provided invaluable insights into these specialised tests.
How does sustainability fit into your role as a Design Engineer?
Sustainability is a fundamental consideration, particularly during the early stages of project tendering. My involvement often includes proposing alternative solutions. This involves suggesting changes to construction methods, reducing cement content in concrete through the use of binders and optimising reinforcement to minimise waste. I also focus on introducing innovative, sustainable technologies. Furthermore, by standardising pile arrangements, we can reduce programme, thereby cutting carbon through improving efficiency.
You recently won the GE Early Careers Challenge, what did this involve?
In August 2023, I was selected for the Early Careers Challenge launched by Ground Engineering and Mott MacDonald, which saw me competing against 19 early career professionals from diverse industry backgrounds. The challenge involved designing an eight-metre embankment on soft soils for a UK highway, with an emphasis on sustainable solutions and digital tools to achieve long-term environmental goals.
Working in a team of five, including members from various sectors such as consulting and education, we thoroughly analysed environmental constraints and construction risks, whilst conducting extensive research on innovative technologies and sustainable methods for the project.