As a Senior Geotechnical Engineer, Tristan Chua leads investigations for mining and infrastructure clients across West Australia, performing design, planning for projects of all size and scale. On celebrating his tenth-year anniversary with Tetra Tech Coffey, Tristan shared some of his career and project highlights.
What has it been like working at Tetra Tech Coffey for the last 10 years?
The last 10 years working at Coffey have been great! I joined just after the peak of the mining boom here in Western Australia, so while there have been busy and quiet periods, there has been constant variety of projects throughout my time.
What would you say has been a highlight project?
One of the first major projects I worked on was the Western Turner Syncline; that really stands out to me as a highlight. I was still a junior at the time without any experience on a project of that scale, so I was sent to site quite often with one of the senior engineers who taught me a great deal. That helped me a lot to develop from a fresh university graduate to becoming the engineer that I am today, so I really think back on that learning period as a highlight.
Another project that I really enjoyed the challenge of was the Port Burnie pavement project in Tasmania. What was interesting about that one was that because it’s such a busy port that was still active, we did most of our work with the contractors – some local, some from WA – on night shifts to avoid interrupting operations.
So, do you get to travel a lot with your work?
Yes, I get to travel quite a lot actually! Our clients are everywhere, and their projects have taken me all around Australia. From Perth to Port Hedland, Tasmania, Darwin; I’ve even been to Koolan Island, which is a really beautiful place just off the coast in the Kimberley.
What changes have you noticed in the field of engineering over your career?
Even in just the last 10 years, there’s been quite a lot of changes I’ve noticed in the field. Most importantly, the market is becoming much more competitive now with many providers. But as a part of the global Tetra Tech group, we’re fortunate to have the access to resources and specialists within our global family that give us the edge with the quality of services that we can provide.
As for the field of geotechnical engineering, I can see we are incorporating a lot more technology into the work we do.
For example, our SAR team here in Western Australia has been using a drone to take samples from tailings dams. Recently the Geotechnical team acquired one and we are excited to start using this for site surveys. In the past when we were going to site to do evaluations, we had to walk through lots of harsh terrain with the risk of things like snake bites and such. But now with the drone, we can still do our work from safe distances and also get much more detailed photographs from the air as well. It really is a lifesaver to use!
The increased use of technology is something we see on the side of the subcontractors as well. They’re also using more technologies to get the work done, which in turn makes things more efficient, cost-effective and helps us to also deliver higher quality results.
Connect with Tristan via email: Tristan.Chua@tetratech.com