1981 was the year Senior Principal and Geotechnical Engineer Mike Hillman started at Tetra Tech Coffey. An industry veteran who has used his creativity, ingenuity, and patience to find clever solutions to design problems for 40 years.
What have you enjoyed most about your role at Tetra Tech Coffey?
I love being a ‘designer’ and it probably took me the best part of two decades to work out this is what I wanted to do, and where my strengths and weaknesses lay. I learnt that with design, having the capability across both hydrogeology and geomechanics positioned me better than choosing either one. A good decision that has only benefited my career.
I’ve been fortunate to work with some great colleagues over the years, likeminded people whose skill set complimented mine.
In the early years the small Western Australian office worked quite independently from the rest of the country with our clients and their projects. As the office grew, I was able to benefit from my colleagues in other offices whose sharing of project experience gave me the confidence and support I needed to tackle the major projects that I now work on.
How the Western Australian operations have grown!
Tell us about a project that lives in your memory?
My most memorable project would have to be ‘Package E’ of the Southwest Metropolitan Railway Project which was the construction of the new urban electric railway between Perth and Mandurah.
Our scope of works included two major road and rail river bridges over deep paleo-drainage sediments doubling the width of the transport corridor and addressing foundation interference issues from existing bridges. Package E also encompassed numerous smaller bridges crossing the rail/road corridor, pavement design and drainage issues.
Our project was so successful in design and execution that it received the West Australian State ACEA Design award for geotechnical, civil, and structural design.
And the changes over 40 years…..
I would say the most significant change since I commenced in the industry has been the dramatic advances in technology. With the software now available, a design that previously took weeks can now be completed in days.
On the downside, I believe there are unrealistic expectations that good design can be undertaken in very short time frames without time for reflection. These expectations are to be resisted.