Patrick Wong - BEng(Hons) MEngSc CPEng FIEAust – MICE - 26 years experience
I am currently a Senior Principal of Coffey Geosciences Pty Ltd. I joined the company (then known as Coffey & Partners) after graduating from The University of Sydney in 1978, and I have enjoyed a fulfilling career as a Geotechnical Consultant ever since. I became a Director of the operating company in 1989 and in 1995 I took up the role of their Eastern Regional Manager. After 5 years in management, I returned to what I enjoyed most as a technical specialist, responsible for winning major infrastructure projects and providing technical support on these projects. Since 2005, my role has been to provide technical leadership, mentoring, and coaching to younger staff, and at the same time doing the challenging and interesting projects that I have a passion for.
What Attracted / Excites Me About Geotechnical Engineering
The fact that ground and groundwater conditions, and soil/rock properties are different in each part of the world is the most attractive aspect of Geotechnical Engineering. After 26 years I am still learning something new every day. Difficult ground excites me most, as these always present a challenge requiring knowledge, experience and lateral thinking to find appropriate, and often innovative, solutions to enable projects to be constructed in a safe, timely and economical manner. Australians are at the forefront of innovation in Geotechnical Engineering, and as a result I have been able to work in different parts of the world, and observe the social and cultural differences as well as learning about ground properties.
My Typical Work Day/Week
I work mostly in Coffey’s Sydney Head Office. There’s always a wide range of activities to be tackled. Some days, it may be a proposal for a major infrastructure project, working with a team of staff to “nut out” the project and client needs and how we can offer value for money to win the work rather than compete on price. Other days, it may be participating in the design team for a project, adding value to the project by identifying risks and opportunities, and helping our clients to arrive at cost-effective engineering solutions. Most days I have to provide technical reviews of reports or design analyses done by others, and occasionally participate in strategic planning activities such as training, mentoring, and business planning.
The Most Interesting Project I Have Worked On
The most interesting project in my career was the Alexandria City Centre Project in Egypt conducted in 2000. This involved the use of Dynamic Replacement (driving of large diameter stone columns into the ground using a heavy drop weight) and Preloading (surcharging with fill) to improve 22 hectares of soft ground to support a Hypermarket the scale of a mini-city on reclaimed land. On award of contract, the contractor realised that a large part of the site which they previously thought was above the lake level during their tender stage site visit, was in fact a 1m thick floating reed layer. They realised then, that there was a large shortfall of fill in their bid and an alternative ground improvement strategy, aimed at reducing settlement and fill requirements, had to be found. Further details of the project can be found in a technical paper published in the Skempton Memorial Conference held in London in 2004.