Education and training of graduates – challenges and opportunities

Prof David Airey, Mark Fowler, Elizabeth Barraclough, Giovanny Alvarado and Anthony Bowden

You are invited to join the upcoming session about Geo-Education in Sydney on the 14th of February 2024 where four panellists from Academia and industry will share their insights about training of the young professionals and current graduates’ skills. 

So far, several sessions have been held across Australia and New Zealand with the purpose of determining whether current geotechnical engineering/engineering geology education and training are meeting the needs of graduates and the industry. This initiative is part of the ISSMGE Heritage Time Capsule project and is supported by ISSMGE, AGS and NZGS. The first panel discussion session was held at the ANZGEO 2023 conference in Cairns (reported in the December 2023 edition of Australian Geomechanics) followed by discussion sessions at AGS Victoria and Western Australia Symposiums in 2023 and in New Zealand. 

Concerns have been expressed about a reduction in the number of enrolments in Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology programs across Australia and New Zealand, the viability of some postgraduate degrees and the attractiveness of the profession to graduates. In the AGS monthly meeting on the 14th of February, panellists are invited to talk about the current challenges in training graduates in this sector and the skills that graduates may lack. The discussions will be about both risks and opportunities and could contribute to establishing standards and essential skills for graduates entering this profession. The talks will be followed by a Q&A.

About the panellists

Prof David Airey University of Sydney

David Airey is a professor at the University of Sydney. He has supervised many Master’s and PhD students on the topics of the behaviour of soil and rocks. His research aims to improve the understanding of the ground’s response to construction and excavation to better assess the risks, reduce costs and build longer-lasting infrastructure. He has taught several subjects such as Soil Mechanics, Foundation Engineering, Rock Engineering, Engineering behaviour of Soils, and Foundations of Soil Mechanics to undergrad and postgrad students. David is also on the editorial board of the Geotechnical Testing Journal, is a core member of TC29 a technical committee of the International Society for Geotechnical and Foundation Engineering concerned with pre-failure behaviour of geomaterials, and is a committee member of the Australian Geomechanics Society.

Mark Fowler, PSM

Mark Fowler Principal Engineering Geologist and Managing Director, PSM

Mark Fowler is a Principal Engineering Geologist and the Managing Director of PSM. Mark has a Bachelor of Applied Science with honours In Geology and a Master of Engineering Science in Geotechnical Engineering both from UNSW. Mark has spent most of his 30 years working in consulting across the spectrum of geotechnics but specialises in slope design for open pit mines. Mark’s areas of special interest include complex and deep mine slopes, pore pressure assessment and depressurisation, hydromechanical coupling, instrumentation and remediation of unstable slopes. In addition to consulting, Mark lectures at the UNSW School of Mining for the master’s course titled mine slope stability.

Elizabeth Barraclough

As a geotechnical engineer, Elizabeth Barraclough has developed strong geotechnical design, analysis, management, and leadership skills. She has worked on a variety of projects, from concept through to detailed design, construction and post-construction assessment, and design review. Her experience includes geotechnical design of embankment and structure foundations, geotechnical model development, interpretation of material properties and parameters, field investigation and testing. She has been involved with analysis, reporting and review related to geotechnical design, monitoring and back analysis, investigation and interpretation. She is also a team lead within the Sydney geotechnical group.

Giovanny Alvarado

Giovanny Alvarado is a senior leader with 22 years of Australian and international engineering experience including leadership, management, technical development, and delivery of major infrastructure projects including transportation (highways, rail, bridges, and tunnels), water, buildings, near-shore, and major site investigations. He leads teams that deliver innovative and practical engineering solutions while considering client needs, purpose, constructability, compliance with relevant regulations and standards, time and budget.

Anthony Bowden

Anthony Bowden Engineering Geologist

Anthony is an Engineering Geologist, with over thirty-eight years’ experience working in Australasia, the UK, Asia, and Southern Africa.  He is a Chartered Geologist, and Fellow of the Geological Society of London.  

After a brief career in gold mining and exploration, Anthony worked with Arup in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia for 24 years before establishing his own consultancy,  Bowden Geological Pty Ltd in 2013.

Anthony is the Australasian Vice President of the International Association of Engineering Geology and the Environment and is a member of the National Committee of the Australian Geomechanics Society.

Engineers Australia members participating in AGS technical sessions can record attendance on their personal CPD logs. Members should refer to Engineers Australia CPD policy for details on CPD types, requirements and auditing guidelines.