In this article, you will be reading important details about Geotechnical Engineering course. Details covered in this article include career prospects, scope, job profiles and course details. In short, this article is all about geotechnical engineering!
What is geotechnical engineering? Who is a geotechnical engineer, what are his/her tasks? What is it like to become a geotechnical engineer, what’s the nature of the work like? Questions like these will be answered in the coming paragraphs-
Geotechnical engineering is a part of Civil Engineering that deals with the study and investigation of earth materials (especially subsurface materials and conditions).
This branch of engineering uses principles of soil mechanics and rock mechanics to investigate and study subsurface materials and conditions. The above mentioned principles are used to find important details about the physical, chemical and mechanical properties of these subsurface materials and structures.
Why is geotechnical engineering so important? Why would we want to find details and conditions associated with subsurface materials? Well, anything that we build and that doesn’t float around is essentially supported by the soil and materials beneath the earth. So, to ensure the stability of such structures, it is necessary to carry out such studies and assess risks.
Applications of geotechnical engineering are many. While it is an important part of civil engineering, it is also used in other branches of engineering such as mining engineering, petroleum engineering and coastal engineering.
Still confused about this whole thing? Let me give you an example. Suppose you want to get a giant commercial building built. What will you do? Yes, you will consult a construction company/developer and hand them this project.
Principles of geotechnical engineering will be the first thing that comes into play, when this project kicks off! First of all, site investigation will be carried out by them. Soil, rock, bedrock and fault distribution properties of the project site will be studied in detail.
Studying these properties will help them know more about the engineering properties of the earth materials beneath the surface of the site. Other than that, they’ll also assess risk from natural hazards like wind, earthquakes, landslides etc.
Based on these findings and assessments, the geotechnical engineer will plan the next step- design and construction of foundation and/or other support structures. Gradually, the entire building will be built and inputs from the geotechnical engineer will be taken into consideration wherever required.
Similarly, geotechnical engineering’s principles are used in construction of other manmade structures like- Dams, Bridges, Roads, Tunnels, Skyscrapers, Ports, Railway lines and Commercial buildings.
There are many engineering marvels present around us, which have been created due to the expertise and skill of geotechnical engineers. Burj Khalifa skyscraper is one such example. It is a remarkable piece of construction that braves searing heat and wind!
Let us check out some of the well known geotechnical engineering courses now-
- B.E./B.Tech. Civil Engineering
- Civil Engineering (B.E./B.Tech.) + Geotechnical Engineering (M.E./M.Tech.) Integrated course
- M.E./M.Tech. Geotechnical Engineering (PG course)
- Diploma in Civil Engineering
Note: Civil Engineering has been mentioned because of the fact that geotechnical engineering topics are covered in it. But, specializing in the field of geotechnical engineering (through Master’s courses like M.E./M.Tech./MS) will be a better option!
In India, most institutes offer M.E./M.Tech. Geotechnical Engineering courses. Abroad, apart from M.E./M.Tech., MS courses related to geotechnical engineering are also being offered.
Career prospects and scope
Government and private sector job opportunities are available in front of geotechnical engineers. Self employment opportunities are also available in front of graduates. Firms involved in construction of commercial buildings, public structures and other manmade structures are the prime recruiters.
Apart from that, firms involved in mining, extraction of petroleum and natural gas are also known to hire geotechnical engineers.
PWD, Municipal Corporations, Urban planning departments, Government Port Trusts, ONGC, NHAI, Indian Railways, Metro Rail Corporations etc are some of the well known Government sector recruiters.
Construction firms, Consultation Agencies, Infrastructure Development firms, Mining firms etc are some of the well known private sector recruiters.
After pursuing Master’s level course, one may take up teaching job (lecturer/instructor) at relevant technical education/engineering institute. Pursuing further advanced course like PhD will help one build a career in the R&D sector associated with this field.
Talking about self employment, starting a consultancy firm is the first thing that comes to my mind. After starting such a venture, one may cater to clients such as infrastructure developers, Government enterprises and builders.
Geotechnical engineers are involved in stages like site supervision, inspection of soil, rocks, bedrock, project analysis, design and construction of foundation and other necessary structures etc. Usually, their job involves site work, supervision, design, cost estimation as well as project management.
Geotechnical engineers also rely on software (related to the field of geotechnical engineering) to analyze data, structural problems, create digital models and mathematical simulation. If you are not too keen on site related work, you may specialize in relevant software and take up an office based job!
Starting salary depends on factors such as- profile of the employer, job location, qualifications of the employee and job profile. Master’s Degree holders, who have specialized in geotechnical engineering, earn significantly more than their ‘civil engineering’ counterparts. Starting salary could be anywhere between 20-45k Rupees per month, depending upon the above mentioned factors.