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Any Engineering Geologists in the house?

Any Engineering Geologists in the house?

Any Engineering Geologists in the house?

Are there any geotechnical engineers here who also practice (or have practiced) as an "engineering geologist" or geologist? If so, how did it affect your professional career?

I have a master's degree in geotechnical engineering but I am just as equally interested in geology, hydrogeology, etc. I find earth's processes fascinating, and being able to apply knowledge of those processes and principles to geotechnical engineering would make things far more interesting and enlightening in my opinion. I am in no way comparing myself to Karl Terzaghi, but the Father of Soil Mechanics was also a geologist :). I am an avid reader and dig into whatever I can get my hands on, but recently have considered going back to school for a second master's degree in engineering geology or similar field of study. I've been practicing as a geotechnical engineer for 6 years and love it. My company has a great tuition reimbursement program for those who want to pursue continued education. If anyone has some recommendations as to a particular college or university program, I would love to learn more. It seems like very tailored programs focused on engineering geology are few and far between. Also trying to stay somewhat local to the Massachusetts area.


RE: Any Engineering Geologists in the house?

I'm a bit out of touch working in Asia for 24 years, but I remember reading that almost all universities - at least in the States have pretty well shut down their engineering geology programmes. I do know a couple of very good engineering geologists but they were South African. Cornell used to have one when Kiersch was there but . . . hopefully someone in the forum will be able to help you.

RE: Any Engineering Geologists in the house?

Hi, UK based engineering geologist here.

This guy explains well.


RE: Any Engineering Geologists in the house?

As a part of Cornell U.'s civil engineering after WWII, when they required us to school for 5 years they had a few geology courses, as well as economics, etc. However due to it taking 5 years to get the BS degree, the applications for entry dropped off so far that they dropped those extra courses. It helped me considerably after the MS in Soil Mechanics (now renamed).

RE: Any Engineering Geologists in the house?

The only schools I know about that offer the engineering geology major are Colorado School of Mines and Missouri S&T (as Maxim22 indicated is where David Rogers teaches). I know there are more schools out there but a simple google search will probably pull them up.

Comparatively to New England, there's a fair amount of professional geologists in Colorado, California, and the southwest. A lot of them started out as just geologists but decided that getting their engineering degree would open some additional options, one of the reasons being it's difficult to find a P.G. to work under, and more pay. I've met one P.G. originally from Connecticut but said the geology in the northeast was boring so packed up and moved out to Colorado in the 80's. After working in Colorado and New England, I can understand what he was saying as there's a host of problems when trying build on the soil and rock out here. But the local geology can be understood with experience and without a masters in engineering geology.

I'm not trying to discourage you pursuing this if it's what you really want to do but I would want to make sure that you understand that you probably won't get much professional advancement for getting your masters in engineering geology, especially if you are staying in the northeast. As far as I can tell, the engineering geologists are groomed in college for either minerals and petroleum exploration, environmental and groundwater, or a geotechnical track. By all means continue your education, but as far what I've seen out of engineering geologists so far, I don't think it will provide you with any professional advancement unless you switch industries and/or pickup and move.

Best of luck with your search. I hope you find what will make you happy!

RE: Any Engineering Geologists in the house?

MTNClimber - I appreciate the genuine response and will definitely consider my decision carefully. I do my best to understand the local geology here in the Northeast given the available resources. As you mentioned, it pales in complexity to other areas of the world - especially in terms of geologic hazards. Ironic you and maxim22 mentioned David Rogers seeing as he is who peaked my interest in geology. I've never met him in person, but I've watched his recorded class lectures on engineering geology and geotechnics over and over simply because I find them enjoyable and interesting. He's also a pretty funny guy.

Thanks to all above who provided feedback!

RE: Any Engineering Geologists in the house?

I can't provide advice on where to go for schooling, but I can state confidently that there is a need. I think most geotechnical engineers, like me, understand soil pretty well but feel woefully inadequate when dealing with rock. I work for a design firm that does a lot of heavy infrastructure work, and just practicing in Texas I have encountered shale that develops progressive shear failure along bedding planes, formations full of gypsum and anhydrite, collapsed formations where the gypsum has been dissolved out, karstic limestone with honeycomb rock, solutioned vertical joints, and caverns both empty and filled with soil. Also a sandstone and shale formation with the beds dipping 60 degrees from horizontal, but I had to go to Oklahoma for that. The challenges can be complex and fascinating. Several times I have gone to the company management and said, "You need an engineering geologist for this project, and I ain't one! Frankly, geologists that know how to apply their knowledge of rock properties to analysis and design are scattered and hard to find.

One encouraging thing is that the money involved in petroleum and mining has provided some really cool tools and software, so the field is changing, more rapidly than soil engineering.

If you enjoy this type of work you can have a lot of fun.

RE: Any Engineering Geologists in the house?

I have an undergraduate degree in geology (Colorado State University). I then worked as a field geologist for 8 years. I worked for the USGS (New Mexico, Montana, South Dakota), a mining company (Colorado) then moved to Seattle and worked as a geologist for a consulting company. Most of the work I did in consulting related to sand and gravel exploration (North Slope of Alaska) or hydro-electric dams (Southeast Alaska, Washington State and California).

I returned to get my masters in engineering after doing my field work. As a geologist and engineer, I've had great fun! I also love ground water hydrology and did have a spell in the environmental projects - fate and transport, cleanups, landfills, ground water monitoring and potable water supply. I just think that stuff is so cool!

Now I work for a state DOT. I travel less! Just in Virginia! I also do less of the other fun stuff, but I do fun stuff nonetheless!

Have fun!

f-d, p.g., p.e.

ípapß gordo ainÆt no madre flaca!

RE: Any Engineering Geologists in the house?

Sound like you've had quite the career f-d! I'm looking into some universities that offer geotechnical master's programs but that also allow to you take several electives in the geo-science fields. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story!

RE: Any Engineering Geologists in the house?

(Virginia Tech)


ípapß gordo ainÆt no madre flaca!

RE: Any Engineering Geologists in the house?

I graduated as a geologist, explored ore deposits in central Africa, worked myself into a personal situation where that was no longer manageable and landed up as an engineering geologist in the city.

It was a compromise, but one I've not regretted- I relatively quickly reached a cross-over point where I found the engineering to be as interesting, if not more so, than the geology. Uncovering a deep interest for the engineering ignited my career in a huge way- we have many engineering geologists who are effectively illiterate when it comes to translating the ground conditions for engineers, and I vow never to fall into that category.

I'd stake a bet that misinterpretation of the engineering geological reports is at the base of more construction claims than you could ever imagine. The more engineers who take an interest in geology, and vice-versa, the better.

All the best,

RE: Any Engineering Geologists in the house?

I'm from San Francisco and got my BA in Geology from UCSB. When it came time to get a master's in engineering geology, I decided on Imperial College of Science and Technology in far off London. It's the MIT of Europe with perhaps the best engineering geology program in the world. IMHO. It was amazing. Skempton was there when I was, way back in the late 80s. I think you'd love it. And England is a lot closer to you than to me. Give it a go!

RE: Any Engineering Geologists in the house?

Move to New Zealand or Australia, or British Columbia in Canada. Or get into a mining. They seem bigger on engineering geologists and geologists in these areas.

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