Case Study: Angus MacGregor

Angus is a Geotechnical Engineer.

Apprenticeship or university ?

After school, Angus applied to both a university degree to study Civil Engineering and to be an apprentice draughtsperson (Civil Engineering Technician). When he was accepted for both, and just like many other young people, Angus had an important decision to make:

I was accepted for both and then had to choose. The university degree was a bit of a stretch for me at the time as my Higher exam results were not quite good enough.  Also the university route involved moving 180 miles to Glasgow whereas the apprentice route involved staying at home.

In the end, Angus decided to go to university and after a year he changed to a similar course Civil Engineering with Geology. He spent 5 years studying at university, 4 of these were in Glasgow and one in Canada. After university, he applied to over 40 graduate engineer jobs and secured 3 job offers.

The importance of holiday jobs

Angus believes that the holidays jobs he had have helped him gain valuable experience.  In the longer breaks, he recalls, like summer break, he gained a lot of experience in Civil Engineering as a trainee Civil Engineer. In the shorter breaks, like Christmas and Easter, he worked as a fencer and a joiner’s mate building timber kit houses.

What do geotechnical engineers do every day?

Geotechnical engineers can work in an office or on-site. When Angus is in the office, which can be anywhere in the UK, he is open-minded as he talks and communicates with people who do different jobs in STEM and non-STEM roles. He often provides advice and guidance on how to solve problems at construction sites.

Outside of the office, his work involves visiting current and future construction sites to understand each situation better and to meet all of the workers.

Most commonly I get involved if there has been a landslide, there is maintenance needed to tunnels, or on sites where the ground conditions are poor and someone really wants to build something.”

Some of these situations are not easy to solve, so Angus needs to be resilient.

The best thing about being a geotechnical engineer

There are a lot of things that Angus loves about his job. He is constantly learning from others to widen his understanding of the world and he enjoys teaching others what he has learnt during his career. Through his job and education, Angus has also travelled to many places all around the world!

I have worked across Scotland, the rest of UK, Europe and Internationally.  Highlights include Shetland, Isle of Lewis, Isle of Eigg, Isle of Muck, Bangladesh, Netherlands, and Poland.  I have helped out from afar on projects in South Georgia, St Helena, Falkland Islands, Antarctica, Sierra Leone and Ghana.  

In the photo above you can find Angus talk to one of his colleagues about methods for making the Haymarket South Tunnel in Edinburgh more stable.