An Engineering Graduates First Year

I joined Ternan Energy in July 2019, after graduating from the University of Aberdeen in June with a BEng (Hons) degree in Civil Engineering. At that time, the Ternan office was based in Banchory, 20 miles west of Aberdeen making it easy to enjoy after work runs in the long summer evenings. I worked closely under Keith Lauder on my first project which involved the removal of a Support Skid Protection Structure. The project required CPT interpretation as well as the development of soil profiles in order to assess the breakout loads associated with this shallow foundation structure. This gave me the opportunity to learn some of the basic fundamental skills associated with offshore geotechnics from the word go. In the early Autumn, the Ternan office was moved to our current central Aberdeen base shortening my commute to a healthy 15 minute walk. 

In October I began working with Alex Searle on what would be the largest project to date, exciting but challenging. This was a substantial desk top screening study which involved a preliminary seabed assessment for the Crown Estate Round 4 and ScotWind offshore windfarm leasing opportunities. Primarily focused on potential risks associated with windfarm development, these reports allowed me to gain a vast and valuable understanding of the geology and geomorphology of the UKCS. Additionally, we reviewed the potential foundation solutions associated with fixed bottom offshore wind. This gave me the opportunity to read about and discuss with the Ternan team, all offshore foundation concepts. Learning quickly and rising to the challenge were fundamental to this project and I can think of no better example of that than my swift “mastery” of QGIS. This was essential to this project, allowing georeferenced data to be visualized and presented as drawings; work which forms a main stay of most Ternan Energy projects.

My first “Business Trip” took place in November 2019 when I had the chance to attend a two day CPT course at Brunel University. Hosted by the well-respected authors of the renowned ‘Cone Penetration Testing in Geotechnical Practice’ textbook, it proved to be a highly informative trip with an added opportunity to meet others in the geotechnical industry.

The arrival of 2020 introduced me to a new sector – pipelines. In two separate projects, I worked again with Keith firstly on a pre-lay risk identification for design of a new pipeline in the North Sea; and secondly on a review of the potential to decommission out-of-use pipelines by trenching. And no, I haven’t forgotten our end of year Christmas dinner. This took place in February 2020 when we finally managed to find the time to get the entire Ternan team together!

Then came March, and with it lockdown. The “New Normal” for all of us became working from home. A successful switch to daily morning team calls kept everyone in touch. I am very grateful for these lighthearted morning conversations where, after the day’s workload was discussed, we talked about how we were coping with the changes to our everyday routine; often a competition to see who had baked the most successful loaf of bread. We even managed a “Pub Quiz”!

Those lockdown months gave me some personal development time allowing me to focus on my career development portfolio. Keith directed me towards an internal project that focused on pile axial and lateral capacity using the API and ISO methods as well as the OPILE software. Technology and skills I would need in the coming months. The geoscience/geotechnical/offshore community was also quick to set up multiple webinars allowing me to further broaden my knowledge and understanding. This lull also provided much needed time to focus the Teams’ efforts on the construction and launch of our new website.

Finally, we came full circle to July 2020 and another sizeable project. It was similar to the first large project I assisted Alex on, but this time with a focus on floating wind anchors. This had a short turnaround and a diverse remit. It was a fantastic opportunity to prove to myself just how far I had come in a year!

Obviously I can’t fit everything in here (though I have quite clearly tried). Lockdown, although it still seems endless, has made me appreciate having a job I enjoy and working with people who care about their work.


Story by Ewan Fielding, Geotechnical Engineer

Ewan Action Shot