A day in the life of an engineering geologist
Kia ora e hoa!
Engineering geologist Tayla Hill shares what a day in the life of an Aurecon early career professional looks like.
In February 2022, Tayla graduated from the University of Otago with a Master of Science, majoring in Geophysics. A month later, she joined Aurecon’s transport team as an Engineering Geologist and Contaminated Land Consultant.
Outside of work, Tayla is passionate about fitness, reading and spending as much time as possible with friends and family.
|Wellington, New Zealand
Meet Tayla Hill
Time to start the day! To get off on the right foot, I like to ease into the morning by writing down my thoughts in a journal and enjoying my breakfast. After getting ready, I take a 40-minute bus ride to the office. I pass the time by listening to a good podcast, reading a book (my favourite author currently is Colleen Hoover), or challenging myself by practicing German on a mobile app.
When I get to the office, I like to make myself a cup of coffee to start the day. I then go through my emails, catch up with colleagues and check my calendar to see if I have any meetings or site visits. I like to sit among other engineering geologists and geotechnical engineers in the office so I can pick their brains and learn from them.
I’m lucky enough to work in both the geotechnical and contaminated land teams, and we have team meetings fortnightly to discuss things such as health and safety moments that may have occurred on site, lessons learned, upcoming projects and bids, or simply things we are excited about.
I get dressed in my high vis to go on site where I’m currently undergoing a 4-week geotechnical investigation. To prepare for the site work, I help the geotechnical engineer and senior engineering geologist carefully pick the borehole locations among an array of buried underground services. I also design a site location plan by analysing a series of underground services plans and making maps of the site in programs such as ArcGISPro.
I arrive on site! Once on site, I work closely with the drillers to help them decide if we need to drill deeper than planned or relocate the borehole. As soon as the core is collected, I get straight into collecting soil samples for analysis and logging the individual characteristics that make the soil and rock beneath the ground we are investigating unique.
This is a critical step in engineering design as understanding soil properties is fundamental to assessing what structures are most suitable for the given site environment. For example, if a building is proposed on a site that has mostly sands, a special engineering design for piles and foundations, or a liquification assessment may be required to ensure its suitability and that it will last in that ground environment.
The kind of work that I do here at Aurecon is quite different to what I studied at university, but I am lucky to be surrounded by helpful and passionate people who are always keen to answer my questions.
After my site visit, I head back to the office and have lunch with my colleagues. We like to sit in the shared kitchen and do newspaper trivia quizzes together. I always surprise myself with the amount of general knowledge I’ve picked up over the years.
Once a week, I catch up with a friend outside of work at one of Wellington’s many coffee shops. My favourite so far is Coffee Supreme – they have such a wide selection of coffee roasts and I’m determined to try them all to find the best one!
After lunch, I head back to my desk to formalise any notes I have taken in the field. On top of that, I work on other smaller tasks and projects such as practising calculations for retaining wall design, analysing lab results from soil or water samples, or writing up investigation results to send to clients.
On most days, I catch up with my mentor who sits next to me to run over any technical questions.
I start to wrap up what I’ve been working on and make a to-do list for the next day. When I get the time, I like to reflect on the development goals I have set at the start of the year and note down any progress I have made.
It’s time to finish work! I get changed into my gym gear and race up the road to my strength and high-intensity interval training class. Exercise is an essential part of my routine and is a great way to get in a positive headspace for the next day.
Sometimes in the evening, I attend networking events and technical seminars run by organisations such as Engineering New Zealand. These events are great opportunities to network, learn a new skill and meet other graduates working in the industry. Plus, there is always free food and drinks!
Finally, I am home! As I cuddle up with my two black Labradors, I reflect on my day and am reminded of how lucky I am to be an Aurecon graduate.
Having worked here for almost a year now, I have been given endless opportunities to upskill, learn new things and thrive in an environment where I am constantly supported by a diverse range of individuals.
There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that the solutions I come up with will greatly improve local infrastructure for years to come.