Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Geotechnical Engineering-industry

    Posted 01-27-2020 08:00 AM

    I will be finishing my PhD (geotechnical Engineering) in few months and have been approached by a big company to work as a Geotechnical Engineer. The company is a giant in EPCC sector. So I will be primarily looking into the Geotechnical design and the work of the contractors of the field. I am quite excited about this position as it will give me a platform to execute the design codes/literatures I have studied and see it implemented in the field. 

    I would like to get the suggestions/view points about should I look for specific geotechnical firm or having such exposure as mentioned above will give a lot of boost to my career profile. 

    Piyush S.M.ASCE


  • 2.  RE: Geotechnical Engineering-industry

    Posted 02-06-2020 10:12 AM
    Congratulations on graduating and the new job opportunity!

    A large firm should have a well structured training and advancement program for entry level engineers.  A supervising engineer should be available at all times to provide guidance and assistance.  The down sides of large firms might be pay, competition among colleagues, long hours, or travel demands.  Overall, it should be a great environment for a fresh engineer.

    A smaller firm may offer less supervision or too much supervision, depending on their expectations and available staff.  If you are an independent worker, you might get an opportunity to shine.  Your career profile will get boosted under whichever environment you feel most comfortable.

    As an engineer with authority over contractors in the field, you have the final say.  Development of confidence to stand firm comes with time.  Rely on supervisors to back up your assessments.  Listen and consider the contractor's perspective.  They bring much experience to the project and they can offer the most practical solutions.  Learn from those who work in the field, but be assertive about implementing sound design approaches. 

    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI

  • 3.  RE: Geotechnical Engineering-industry

    Posted 02-07-2020 12:06 PM
    One aspect of "your first job" that is often overlooked is "will you be working under a professional civil engineer (or geotechnical engineer in your case) who can be your reference for the PE qualifying experience?"  Sometimes in working for a contractor, there may not be a PE civil to oversee your work.  When you interview for the job, ask them how they are structured and your goal is to become a licensed professional engineer, (at least I trust that is what your near term goal is), and how many licensed professionals are on the staff?  

    I had a student who graduated from our program and went on to get an MS at another university come back and ask I if knew anyone in the groundwater resources area.  I recommended two firms who I personally knew the owners.  The graduate got interviews with both firms and job offers from both.  One of the firms was a groundwater specialty firm with licensed hydrologists, but no civil PEs; the other was run by a civil PE.  The graduate took the latter because of the PE who could be the student's reference.  The graduate is now a PE with the firm.

    I've had students ask me who could be their reference because they work for a company that has only one PE civil.  That can be a problem.  You may find a client who has reviewed your work, or someone from a public agency who has reviewed your work for say a permit or master plan, but these are issues a graduate should be thinking about when looking for that first job.  Sometimes very small firms do not have multiple PEs who can attest to your work.  Larger firms  very likely do.

    Think about this when you are interviewing.

    Joseph Reichenberger P.E., BCEE F. ASCE
    Professor of Civil Engineering
    Monterey Park CA