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Introducing engineering geology as a career option at undergraduate level


Introducing engineering geology as a career option at undergraduate level EurGeol James S Griffiths BSc PhD CEng CGeol EurGeol FHEA School of Geography, Earth ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introducing engineering geology as a career option at undergraduate level

Introducing engineering geology as a career
option at undergraduate level
  • EurGeol James S Griffiths
  • BSc PhD CEng CGeol EurGeol FHEA
  • School of Geography, Earth Environmental
  • University of Plymouth

  • Engineering Geology
  • The application of the science of geology to the
    understanding of geological phenomena and the
    engineering solution of geological hazards and
    other geological problems for society

Zone of interest to the engineering geologist,
i.e. the natural landscape plus the effects of
Ancient seabed
Variscan folding
Carboniferous swamps
Granite batholith
Caledonian folding
Importance of Engineering Geology
  • Engineering geologists have a key role in the UK
    construction industry which is worth just under
    10 of the UKs Gross Added Value
  • In 2009 the top 35 UK Geotechnical companies
    generated a turnover of 1.12 billion.
  • The UK geotechnical companies employ over 6000
    engineering geologist and geotechnical engineers
  • The Engineering Group is the largest specialist
    group of the Geological Society with some 40 of
    the Fellows
  • Engineering geologists (along with
    hydrogeologists, geophysicists, geoscientists and
    engineering geomorphologists) remain on the
    Governments Skills Shortage Register compiled by
    the Migration Advisory Committee (Oct. 09)

Real geologists
Engineering Geologists
Plymouth module running since 1993
  • Has gone through a number of important changes
    over 17 yrs but basic philosophy is the same an
    introduction to engineering geological techniques
    supported by case studies and laboratory
  • Part of the Applied Geology and Physical
    Geography Geology BSc programmes (these are
    Geological Society Accredited)
  • 20 credits in Stage 3 brief introduction in
    Stage 2
  • Uses the training guide of the Engineering Group
    of the Geological Society to establish the module
    content (http//

Topics covered
  • Engineering soil rock description (Eurocode 7)
  • Desk studies
  • Remote sensing
  • Site investigation
  • Geographical information systems
  • Hazards and risk assessment
  • Introduction to hydrogeology
  • Soil and rock slope stability analysis
  • Earthworks and foundation design
  • Tunnelling
  • Aggregates
  • Waste disposal

A very different literature
Site work not field work
Mistakes can cost lives
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Students perception
  • Survey of the undergraduate students indicate
    less than 10 knew of career opportunities in
    engineering geology before taking the module
    even fewer had been aware such careers existed
    before coming to university
  • Student feedback is strongly supportive of my use
    of real case studies as examples
  • Practicals are geared towards developing skills
    in techniques required to be a practicing
    engineering geologist

Engineering Geological Techniques that might
have wider applicability
  • Eurocodes are standards used throughout Europe
  • Rock description Eurocode chart only contains
    some 30 rock types which covers 95 of the rocks
    geologists will ever encounter strong emphasis
    on site observation, simple diagnostics, and
    proforma data collection
  • Engineering Soil description again very
    pragmatic and based on simple field tests and

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Weathered Rock description after Eurocode 7
Grade Classifier Characteristics
VI Residual soil Soil derived by in situ weathering no original texture or fabric left
V Completely weathered Weakened to a soil slakes in water original texture apparent no core stones
IV Highly weathered Mainly a soil few remaining core stones cannot be broken by hand
III Moderately weathered Considerably weakened large core stones cannot be broken by hand up to 50 soil penetrative discoloration
II Slightly weathered Slight weakening slight discoloration
I Fresh Unchanged from original state
Student progression
  • Advice is that to develop a career they will need
    a specialist masters degree
  • Given the skills shortage a number of students
    each year go onto 1 year contracts to gain
    experience before taking a masters
  • The opportunities are not just in the UK this
    year I have had students take up posts in
    Australia and Hong Kong

Student feedback on the best aspects of the
module 2009/10
  • The course was very interesting, material was
    always challenging and interesting
  • The practical exercises in general were all
    challenging but very useful to apply what we know
    to real problems.
  • The teaching of techniques that are used within
    the industry and also being taught about the
    industry itself.
  • I really enjoyed learning about what life as an
    engineering geologist is like. As well as
    learning about the subject, I think it is
    important that we were taught about what to
    expect if we wanted to enter this field of work.

  • Undergraduate geology programmes should contain
    engineering geology module(s)
  • Engineering geology is a realistic career option
    even at undergraduate level
  • We need to expose students to engineering geology
    as a career option in Stage 1
  • Some of the techniques taught in engineering
    geology have wide applicability

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