For most of us, the silly season is well and truly over. The ham has been eaten and the eggnog has been enjoyed. It’s now time for us to turn our attention to work once again.

Many of us write new year’s resolutions as a list on how we can enhance our mental, physical and social wellbeing. However, not all of us write a list of the skills we can enhance to improve our professional lives as well. 

To help you out, we’ve put together this list of key skills to focus on in 2023 to help you become an exceptional geotechnical engineer.

  1. 1. Stay up to date on the latest techniques and technologies in geotechnical engineering. This will help you stay competitive and become a cut above the competition, helping to ensure even more value for your clients. Some effective ways you can do this include:
    •  – Stay informed: Attending conferences and seminars is a great way to learn about the latest developments in the field and network with other professionals.
    •  – Read industry-specific publications: There are many journals and magazines focused on geotechnical engineering, such as the Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering and Geotechnical News.
    •  – Adopt modern systems/tech that you can use either personally or consultancy-wide that frees you from the daily minutia so you can focus on providing quality work in shorter timeframes
  2. 2. Develop strong analytical skills and manage expectations. As a geotechnical engineer, you need to be able to analyse data and make informed decisions based on your findings. These decisions also need to be clearly explained with expectations (such as costs, timeframes, scope) clearly outlined. Developing strong analytical skills as a geotechnical engineer can be achieved through a combination of education, experience, and practice. Some specific ways to develop strong analytical skills include:
    • Gain practical experience: Theory and books can only get you so far. You can develop analytical skills through practice, so it is important to seek out opportunities to work on real-world problems and projects as a geotechnical engineer.
    • Practice analytical thinking: It is important to continually challenge yourself to think critically and analytically. This can be done through activities such as solving puzzles, reading technical articles, and working on complex problems.
    • Seek out mentorship and guidance: Working with experienced geotechnical engineers and seeking out their guidance and mentorship can be a great way to develop strong analytical skills.

      Look for opportunities to get out into the field and conduct site investigations
  3. 3. Understand the properties of soil and rock and how they behave under different conditions. This includes understanding soil composition, density, and strength, as well as how soil and rock respond to changes in temperature, moisture, and stress. Here are some specific steps you can take to improve your understanding of these materials:
    1.  – Conduct laboratory testing: Laboratory testing is a critical tool for understanding the properties of soil and rock. As a geotechnical engineer, you should be familiar with a variety of laboratory testing methods and be able to interpret the results of these tests.
    2.  – Analyse data: To fully understand the properties of soil and rock, it is important to be able to analyse data from laboratory and field tests. This may involve using specialised software programs or developing custom analysis methods. 

      Seeking out a mentor can be invaluable to your professional development
  4. 4. Develop excellent communication skills. As a geotech, you need to be able to communicate your findings and recommendations to clients and colleagues in a clear and concise manner. A lot of this comes from just knowing your stuff. But we all know clients hate broad and inconclusive advice, both on site and in reports. It goes a long way to be black and white ( as much as possible…not always easy in the world of geotech though!). By taking the time to provide a list of possible solutions and the pros/cons/assumptions for each, you can use these to clearly justify your final recommendations. The Geotech who does this is sure to get repeat work.
  5. 5. Be detail-oriented and well-organised. Geotechnical engineering projects often involve complex calculations and data analysis, so it’s important you can keep track of all the details. You can enhance these skills by:
    1.  – Developing a system for organising information: A good system for organising information can be very helpful for staying detail-oriented and well-organised. This may include using folders and labelling conventions for documents, creating a filing system for data, and developing a system for tracking tasks and deadlines.
    2.  – Setting goals and priorities: Setting clear goals and priorities can help you focus on the most important tasks and stay organised. Consider using techniques such as the SMART goal setting method to help you set and achieve your goals.
  6. 6. Be a team player. Many geotechnical engineering projects involve collaboration with other professionals, so it’s important you can work effectively with others. Be reliable and trustworthy, contribute to your team’s success and seek out opportunities to work in a team. These experiences can help you develop your team player skills.

By focusing on these key areas, you will become an effective geotechnical engineer and make a valuable contribution to your field this year!

Got another skill we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments below

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