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VIDEO: Liam Steers: Master's Candidate in Civil Engineering
Hi, my name's Liam Steers,
I am supervised by Dr Andy Take in the
Department of Civil Engineering and my
research if focused on the static liquefaction of
Coming from high school, I knew that I was always
interested in science and mathematics.
Engineering seemed to be a natural choice.
I am the fourth generation of engineer in my
family so there's my grandfather, my dad, myself, and I guess
my great-grandfather as well.
In my undergrad, instead of doing civil engineering,
I decided to do geological. It kind of fit the trend that
my family goes through. My grandfather was a
geological engineer as well, and his father was a
mining engineer, so it seemed to be a natural
choice and taking the first-year geo course really
inspired me to go into the geo stream, learning about
landslides and earthquakes just really seemed to fit what I
was interested in.
After I graduated, I worked for about a year-and a half
- two years for a geotechnical site investigation
company. I did often feel that I would come back and
do a graduate degree. I just didn't know when. After
graduating and getting a bit of work experience,
I just felt that it was time to go back and pursue
what I always wanted to do.
I always had a passion for landslides and having
taken Dr Take's undergrad geotechnical course,
I realized that this is the supervisor that I
want to work with.
I found his research to be quite interesting
and I knew that he was a leader in the his field,
so I thought this was the perfect situation.
My research focuses on the static liquefaction of granular
slopes, so what I'm doing is modelling with a
centrifuge out in Newfoundland.
We're testing at 30g on 5cm-thick slope,
so a 5cm-thick slope under 30g makes it seem
like it's 1.5m in thickness, making it a more
realistic problem. You're never going to have a
landslide that's 5cm thick, so doing this we get
more realistic slope, but also testing under g, we are
able to make these tests that might take months
or years to perform. We can do them in a matter of
hours so we get real-time results much more quickly.
I am using a process called digital image correlation
with a piece of software that my supervisor, Dr Take, developed
in his PhD to actually track specific pixels of images
in the slide so that we get an idea of their displacement
and how quickly they are moving.
From my personal experience, I find that
going out and getting work experience is quite
beneficial and coming back and doing grad studies
though, for example, in my undergrad, I took a bunch
of courses that talk about various types of field
testing that you do and they give you a very brief
overview of what it is and they show you some plots
of the data that's collected and they say,
'This is what this is, just run with it. Just test it.'
But having had that work experience and knowing how that
data is collected, how it's interpreted, how the consultant
then goes and uses it, gives me a broader understanding
of the strengths as well as the weaknesses with the
particular tests and how we can then later apply
them to actual design.
If you're on the fence, go for it because there's
really no downside to it.
You get some experience toward your PEng, you become a
specialist in the area you're researching, which can be very
appealing to employers, something appealing to graduates
is that once you graduate, you have a higher starting salary
more often than someone with an undergraduate degree
and it's really just two years. In the long run
that's not going to affect your overall career negatively
it can only affect it positively.