Richard E. Migues received his B.A. degree in geology from the University of California at Santa Barbara then was called to active duty in the Army Corps of Engineers, where he was the site geologist for construction of Mahan and Eisenhower Halls at West Point. He has since been with Bechtel Corporation for the past 30 years. He has worked on the geology for nuclear power plants around the world, on the Faja oil city in Venezuela, on the Camesea oil project in the Peruvian Amazon, on the Setif dam project in the High Atlas Mountains of Algeria, on the Jubail industrial city in Saudi Arabia, on Oklahoma's bid for the Supercollider, on low level radioactive waste facilities in Nebraska and Taiwan and many other projects around the world. He is the Manager for the Los Angeles area of Bechtel's Geotechnical management team.
Engineering and environmental geology employment is in a period of change.
However, this has been the history of our science at Bechtel for the past fifty
years. Fifty years ago Bechtel geologists were mainly working on dams and mining
projects, but we haven't had many dam projects for the past decade or two. Now,
more than halves of our geologists are working on environmental-related projects
yet none were working on environmental jobs twenty years ago. Power plant construction,
particularly nuclear-fueled facilities, and the engineering geology associated
with it, has since come and gone at Bechtel, but is again re-entering our job
mix. The lesson for us and I suspect for many others has been that our geologists
need to be versatile. In my opinion, the starting point for this versatility
starts with hiring geologists with strong training in field geology. Our industries
are extremely competitive and we seldom, if ever, have had the time or the money
to teach geologist how to interpret and map geology. I have always preferred
geologists with a strong background in field geology training. Instead, our
training concentrates on things like discipline specific computer applications,
grouting techniques that we have learned, ground water observation hole technology
and construction de-watering. Typically, these field skills are taught by experienced
geologists on projects large enough to require a number of geologists. Projects
requiring mapping skills often are assignments for a single geologist and if
they don't arrive at Bechtel with those skills their opportunities are very
restricted. This is particularly true on foreign assignments where the only
help from the home office is by phone, sometimes satellite phone. In these instances,
the geologist in the field must be able to engineers which are dominant component
of our company, communicate their observations. Usually, this is an experienced
field geologist we know we can trust to get the geology right the first time.
Confusion in these types of situations can ripple through a project.