Getting to know James Morrice, Senior Geotechnical Engineer

James Morrice is one of Technics’ most recent recruits, having joined us in November to head up our new in-house Geoscience Department. James may only be a few weeks into his career at Technics, but we thought now is as good a time as any to get to know our new recruit a bit better! Read on to find out what motivated James to pursue a career in Geoscience, what advice he’d give to anyone wanting to follow a similar career path and how he is settling in at Technics…

First off, tell us a bit about yourself and what attracted you to Geoscience?

I started out studying Civil Engineering and was drawn to the geotechnical engineering part of the course, which was cemented during my subsequent postgraduate degree in Applied Geotechnics. I really enjoy the myriad ways in which the ground interacts with us and the structures we build. There is nothing we build which doesn’t interact with the ground in some way; even ships and aeroplanes start their lives on the ground.

As I have progressed in my career, I have also found great satisfaction in fulfilling the clients’ requirements, especially in logistically or technically challenging conditions. There’s always a solution to every problem… it’s just a case of identifying it.

What does a typical day look like in your role?

There really isn’t a ‘typical’ day; they vary depending on the individual projects I am working on at the time. Much of my time will be spent researching and discussing the projects with my clients, ensuring I fully understand their requirements. I also spend a lot of time reviewing specifications and methodology for the site operatives to check that they fulfil the brief and provide the client with the information they need. Depending on the client’s technical background, I will also write a technical report highlighting the key findings of our investigation and how these relate to the client’s individual needs.

What has been the most interesting project you have worked on so far in your career?

Each project comes with its own quirks and personality, so it’s hard to pick just one. I really enjoy projects which are slightly unusual, such as having to find the course of a ‘lost’ river to see whether it had contributed to settlement of a bridge pier. The exact course had been unknown for hundreds of years, but through a combination of research with historical maps and targeted boreholes, we pinpointed the river’s course through the site. The works were further complicated by the requirements for UXO supervision for each borehole and the need to quickly confirm the course so appropriate repairs could be made to the bridge.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into Geoscience?

Get your hands dirty! The experience and understanding you gain from working on site is invaluable. If you can, try to get some work experience with a contractor or consultant.

What made you join Technics?

Technics has a fantastic solution-driven ‘can-do’ approach to projects, which echoes my own way of working and makes for a truly enjoyable environment. I was also drawn by the exciting challenge of setting up a new department to develop the existing geosciences workflow and the opportunity to help shape the way we work.

And finally, do you have any interesting facts about Geoscience to share?

The ground can behave in unusual ways. In most situations, a building’s foundations stop it sinking into the ground. However, in some cases we have to design the foundations to stop the ground pushing the building up, effectively tying the building down to the ground.