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Year in Industry Success - Joe McFarlane

Credit: Joe McFarlane

Credit: Joe McFarlane

Credit: Joe McFarlane

4 September 2018

Engineering Design student Joe McFarlane has just returned from a Year in Industry working with EA Piling in Kenya and Uganda where he project managed a slipway into the Indian Ocean as well as contributing to several successful bids.

During his Year in Industry Joe led on the build of a marine slipway into the Indian Ocean, as well as contributing to several successful company tenders and having a significant impact on improving the company's processes. He spent nearly six months project managing a landing bay in Kenya where he was the most senior person on site, despite being the youngest, and managed a team of up to around 50 workers. In addition, Joe found time to gain a RAEng Leaders Scholarship Award and take two exams, before returning to Bristol to undertake a summer placement with ACCIS. Joe will be returning to work with EA Piling when he finishes his studies at Bristol.

Joe describes his experience with EA Piling:

As an Engineering Design student, I spent my Year Placement in Industry working for East African Piling in Uganda and Kenya. The company specialises in a variety of piling solutions for both the private and public infrastructure markets across East Africa. Services offered include rotary bored piling, continuous flight auger piling, sheet piling, soil nailing, soil anchors and pile load and integrity testing.

During the first period of the placement, I was predominantly working on design and costing proposals for upcoming projects. Throughout the year I contributed towards over 11 submitted bids, 4 of which were awarded to the company.

After this stint working on tenders, I moved on to become the Project Manager of a new marine slipway on the coast of Kenya. The completed structure is 105 m long and 6.5 m wide. The slipway extends 74 m into the Indian Ocean and was constructed by means of a sheet pile cofferdam. At the deepest end of the cofferdam, the maximum retained depth of water was 6 m.

The cofferdam was constructed using a 75 m long barge as a platform. A crane-slung vibrating hammer was used to drive the sheet piles into the seabed to the required depth. Once the cofferdam had been built, the water was pumped out by means of two 4-inch submersible pumps to create a dry working space. The existing seabed was excavated to a 10% gradient and back-filled with hard-core material. After this, precast concrete slabs, haunches and underlying geotextile material were placed into position from the end of the slipway up to the junction with the existing road. The final step of construction was to flood the cofferdam and cut the sheet piles at a gradient to be flush with the slipway’s haunches.

Despite having to overcome significant challenges over the course of the project, it was a major achievement to produce a quality product which meets all client requirements, within the specified budget and two weeks ahead of schedule.

I thoroughly enjoyed my Year in Industry, having learned an incredible amount about the design, management and implementation of engineering projects. I would recommend it to anyone studying Engineering! With the placement proving to be such a success, I look forward to working with the company again in the future.

Another Engineering Design student, Topaz Maitland, is also doing a placement overseas and has recently arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal, to work with the charity PEEDA, focusing on the design of a pico-hydro turbine for renewable energy generation. You can read about her initial experiences  of life in Nepal.


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