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Sven Kirchner

Age: 28, site engineer, Bilfinger Berger AG, Germany

This article is also available in: German

Route to the job
I have always been interested in technology and construction, so I decided to study civil engineering at the Technische Universitšt Darmstadt, choosing Solid Construction and Construction Management as main courses and geotechnics as a special course. My interest in geotechnics was deeply intensified during an on-site work placement with a specialised foundation engineering company. During my studies I worked for the Institute and Laboratory of Geotechnics at the Technische Universitšt Darmstadt. With the support of Bilfinger Berger I wrote my diploma thesis on numerical simulation of groundwater flow in 2001. After graduating I started my professional career with Bilfinger Berger, working for its foundation engineering branch. During the first months I was engaged in structural calculations of differing foundation engineering projects, but in April†2002 I started work on a high speed railway construction site in southern Germany. I started as assistant supervisor for pile tests and was then put in charge of the drilling of more than 3000 bored piles for a railway tunnel with up to ten drilling rigs.

Typical day
A day on such a big construction site offers a very varied experience with many challenges and ever changing problems. Most of the time is dedicated to the coordination of drilling works, their documentation, the coordination of subcontractors, and the solving of problems arising from the cooperation of the different trades. Moreover it is part of the work to pass on the documentation to the project managers and to discuss site progress.

Highs and lows
Involvement in an enormous project such as the high speed line provides opportunities to meet so many different people and to learn from their experiences. It is also a chance to increase my knowledge of the mechanical equipment and to improve my ability to deal with workers as well as other engineers - colleagues and site supervisors. The only low is the long working hours and the lack of recreational and leisure-time facilities in such a remote working place.

Ambitions
To increase my knowledge of geotechnical engineering in order to be able to meet the demands of difficult foundation projects waiting in the future.

Advice
Never to be too proud to ask others for advice.