The Groundwork

A Vision of Connection: Volunteering for ANCOLD and AGS

Yuqi Tan is an Associate Geotechnical Engineer (Dams & Tailings) at ATC Williams with a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering. Yuqi talks to us about his pivotal volunteer roles at ANCOLD and AGS, along with his enthusiastic advocacy for Geotech and Dam professions.


Hi Yuqi, tell us about your new ANCOLD young member representative role.

Most people will be aware that ANCOLD (Australian National Committee on Large Dams) is a voluntary group founded in 1928 representing those interested in dams.


Along with the Executive Committee and seven State Representatives, there are ten ANCOLD young professional representatives aged under 35 years. Our group aims to develop networking and social opportunities driven by young members but as a platform to include everyone. I am the Northern Territory representative, so I am coordinating an online technical presentation to showcase the NT and raise awareness of the differences in dam design and operations compared to other Australian states. Watch this space for more details in the months ahead.


Joel Eadie from the Brisbane office is the Queensland co-representative, and ATC Williams is an Organisational Member. We enjoy contributing our knowledge base and experience to the dam technician community.



How long have you been on the AGS Victorian Chapter committee?

The AGS (Australian Geomechanics Society) is a professional non-government organisation that helps the career development of geotechnical engineers and engineering geologists with opportunities to connect with peers across Australia.


I joined the Victorian AGS committee in 2019 after being a member for many years. I am currently serving a term as Secretary for the Victorian Chapter. As committee members, we help organise events and technical presentations on topics related to geotechnical and engineering. We help connect the industry and maintain a platform where people can communicate, network, and develop their technical skills. I highly recommend anyone with geotechnical/engineering geology interests join the AGS community.



Which AGS initiatives are you involved with?

One initiative I am working on is digital engineering. I chaired a symposium last year on this topic. The main drive for this initiative is the industry is feeling the pain of data sharing and data communication. Many documents are PDF based, stored in draws or in a different format that people cannot use effectively. Digitising and standardising these data and making them easier to communicate between projects would increase the overall efficiency of this industry.


There is a shortage of geo-professionals in Australia but lots of opportunities. As a committee, we aim to raise awareness about geo-professionals as a career among women and young people. Our ‘Women in Geotech’ project aims to welcome more females into our industry by creating an inclusive community.


Along these lines, we want to engage more school-age people and undergraduates to consider geotech as it is a promising pathway that offers exciting specialisations. A geotechnical career opens opportunities in many areas, including renewable energies, hydrogen technology, defence, dams, tunnels, buildings and mining.



What kinds of projects have you worked on in your career?

I started my career as a mining geotech before moving into the tunnel space, working on water infiltration issues for a metro tunnel project. The switch to tailings and dam engineering was a smooth transition for me. They are different infrastructures but with similar geotechnical and water problems to solve.


The main difference for me would be job location! Metro tunnels are mainly in urban environments, and tailings dams are generally in remote areas. Working in tailings has taken me to explore the country and see places I wouldn’t have visited otherwise.


When I joined ATC Williams in 2019, one of the first projects I worked on was a tailings dam for the Oyu Tolgoi Mine in Mongolia. I stayed on that project for a year until the design for that raise was complete, then swapped out to another project. One of the benefits of working here is that many projects are on offer. If there is something specific that I want to work on, the company is excellent at making it happen.



Can you give some insight into the work you are currently doing?

I’m working on multiple projects in NSW, NT and WA, the main one being The Granites Gold Mine in NT. I’m concentrated on the geotechnical side of this project, from the early stage investigation and lab testing to later stage instrument interpretation and stability analysis.


Another interesting project is building a 3D geological model for a site in WA that requires compiling existing site data from old pdf-based files. By the end of this project, we aim to create a compiled database for boreholes, test pits and old design documentation that can be visualised and interrogated in a 3D space. This ground information model would be beneficial information to help the client with their ongoing decision-making process.



Do you have any professional goals you’d like to share?

I believe having a similar networking and knowledge-sharing platform as AGS for tailings and dam engineers would be very beneficial. This is also what motivated me to be part of ANCOLD. I want to contribute to creating a more accessible networking platform for dam and tailings engineers as a place for us to connect more closely as a community and share knowledge for the betterment of our industry.


You can follow Yuqi on Linkedin here



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