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Career Profiles

Ann Meeker

Engineering Geologist

Ann Meeker is a engineering geologist who lives and works in California, a geologically "active" state. Ann developed an interest in landforms and their origins while hiking in the mountains of New Hampshire. She took several geology classes in college at the suggestion of hiking companions. She discovered an exciting field of study with the opportunity to work outside. The field of engineering geology became her particular interest, as in this practical field the concepts of earth science are applied to construction projects. She has a B.S. degree in geology and has taken graduate classes in geology and business management.

In general, engineering geologists try to answer questions like the following: If someone wants to build a house, high-rise or dam on a site, will the soil and rock support the structure, what does the builder have to do to the site to build a safe structure, and how might the development affect adjacent areas? To answer these questions the geologist will determine the geology and groundwater conditions of the site and surrounding region.

To gain the information necessary to characterize a site, Ann has performed literature searches, analyzed historical aerial photographs, mapped areas up to hundreds of acres in size, and performed trenching, drilling and seismic refraction studies. The limited amount of data obtained must be applied to the project based on assumptions and experience. The geologist's conclusions are discussed with the project engineer and together they make recommendations for construction. An important aspect of the job is to determine the best way to present these conclusions and recommendations to the client and government review agencies. On a daily basis, Ann works on several projects, such as evaluating a distressed house, trenching across an active fault, and looking for landslides on a hillside where houses may be build. For these projects, she might write a proposal or report, visit a site, review a project budget, or speak with a client about the job progress. She especially enjoys the field work, because there she can see whether the assumptions she made about the conditions at a site are accurate.

Ann thinks of her work as solving puzzles; she tries to put together many pieces of information to get a picture of the geology at a site or perhaps the cause of a building distress. If this work sounds interesting, she suggests you observe what is around you and share it with others. Besides taking math and science classes, develop your writing and speaking skills, because if you cannot communicate what you know, your work is of little use to others.

Ann and her husband, a cabinet maker, both enjoy their work and put in many long hours. On the weekends, they like to hike, bike, or spend time at the beach. They just had a baby girl and everything has changed. As she gets older, they look forward to sharing their love of the outdoors with her. Ann is now working part time to be able to spend time with her daughter.