placement: Mining
Scroll down to read more: 

Christopher Shardlow

Age: 20
Degree Course: BEng Engineering Geology & Geotechnics (Sandwich).
Placement Position: Anglogold Ashanti - Student Underground Engineering Geologist.

(Profile courtesy of the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Portsmouth)

How did you obtain your placement and what help did you receive from the University?

Throughout my second year of study I researched and applied for employment and internships with hundreds of companies, initially within the UK, but extending my search to Europe, the Americas, and Australia – I think I received 4 or 5 responses, only to state their decline. 

I went on to have multiple interviews with companies based in South Africa and Australia as a direct result of the University’s broad industrial contacts. After a great interview with a Portsmouth alumni, now the global Head of Geotechnical & Rock Engineering at AngloGold Ashanti, I secured a position as a Student Underground-Geotechnical Engineer at the Sunrise Dam Gold Mine in Australia for 6 months after a long wait and diligence. I then relocate to South Africa to work in the deepest gold mines in the world for the remainder of the year.

Can you describe your current job and the types of role that you fulfill?

I am currently an Underground Student Geotechnical Engineer operating in the underground section of the Sunrise Dam Gold Mine, Australia. 

As an Engineer my primary focus is on the regional/local geology’s mechanical interaction, via stresses and pressures, on the mining operations- drives, stopes, and projects, and stabilizing it with ground support techniques – like bolts, fibrecrete or mesh. As a student my current role is focused on the data collection necessary for these designs, and consists of: performing rock/soil strength tests, core logging, data analysis and creation of reports when on the surface. 

When underground my roles may consist of site inspections of ground supports/cuttings/stopes, quality checks, instrument calibration & recording.

What do you feel you will gain from the Placement year?

Knowledge and Experience. The Placement year will grant me a strong competitive degree, as I will graduate with a year of experience in the Geotechnics field ahead of most other candidates. I am reinforcing all of the experience and insight I have gained through my course - every day I am performing tests that I was taught in our lectures and practicals. 

The opportunity to ‘preview’ the multitude of job roles and duties of mining, before I actually graduate and dedicate my career to a specific role is greatly undervalued, as well as the opportunity to develop contacts and relations with people leading the industry.
Lastly, I will be earning a competitive salary which will undoubtedly make living as a student easier.

What do you enjoy most about studying at University?

The friends I’ve made, the extensive expertise of the staff, the summers on the seafront, the input the students and industrial ties have on the course, the numerous field trips; it all goes a long way into the ongoing satisfaction of studying and enjoying my stay at the University.

What would your advice be to anyone thinking of studying Engineering Geology?

If you’re seeking a career in any Engineering Geology/Geotechnics role then a Degree course that is well connected and influenced by the industry, with as many contacts as possible, is critical to the achieving the first steps pre- and post-graduation.