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Student story

Sophie Bainbridge

20 July 2023

"The courses I took at Uni provided me with the relevant skills I need to work in my chosen field..."


Bachelor of Science in Geology

Master of Science in Engineering Geology

Engineering Geologist, Golder Associates Ltd

Sophie’s role with Golder Associates sees her working on a variety of mining and infrastructure projects, in New Zealand and internationally. Some of her previous jobs have included jobs in Australia, Africa, and even Antarctica.

"As an Engineering Geologist, I work in the realm where the ground meets the structure, which means working with other technical professionals and engineers to solve design problems," she says.

"I enjoy being presented with a problem, coming up with a strategy to investigate it, collecting the data and then using that to produce practical and useful advice for a client. It is always satisfying to see something take shape that you had a part in designing."

Her trips to Antarctica involved putting together a ground model for extensions to Scott Base, and also the McMurdo USA base, on two separate visits.

"This involved long hours in very cold temperatures where my eyelashes would freeze my eyes shut!"

The project in Western Africa was to investigate the foundations for a railway line and associated infrastructure.

"I was flown by helicopter to remote locations where they had never seen a white person before. The local children would bring me peanuts and cassava and I would give them my sandwiches and my plastic drink bottles," she says.

Geology was her first choice of study, having a passion for the outdoors. Coming down from Auckland to go to UC meant even more travel opportunities, both within and outside of study.

"I liked the sound of all the field trips and having a job where I get paid to be out in nature," she says. "I heard UC had practical, hands-on Science and Engineering departments – and I wanted to check out the South Island!"

She found her undergrad and master’s studies were great preparation for developing field skills and knowing how to carry out her own investigations in real world environments.

"The courses I took at Uni provided me with the relevant skills I need to work in my chosen field, as well as teaching me how to continue to research and learn."

Sophie’s goals in life are "to have fun and never stop learning" in her career, which she emphasises to other students is one of the best parts of a career in geology.

"Work hard and learn as much as you can, but don’t sweat the small stuff – the learning will never stop. I made friends for life, many laugh out loud memories, and gained a degree that has directly set me up for a career I love."

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