The Government strives to nurture professionals in different fields for Hong Kong to promote social progress and ensure safety in our city. In my previous blog posts I introduced to you the training base for electrical and mechanical talent, this time I would like to share with you my meeting with two secondary school student participants of the “Be a Government Official for a Day” Programme and several trainees of the Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO). The trainees shared with us their training experiences and the reasons why they pursue a professional career in engineering geology and geotechnical engineering. I hope the experiences of these “big brothers” will inspire more youngsters to explore their interests early and equip themselves for joining the workforce.
The GEO under the Civil Engineering and Development Department has been running the Engineering Geology Graduate (EGG) Training Scheme and the Geotechnical Engineering Graduate (GEG) Training Scheme since 1985 and 1992 respectively. The schemes offer a wide range of courses and ample placement opportunities for trainees to enhance their skills and obtain professional qualifications. During three years of training under the schemes, trainees will receive training in areas including geological survey, engineering geology and terrain study, ground investigation and laboratory testing, and geotechnical design. Work placement at construction sites will also be arranged.
Contributing expertise to society
What prompted these young people to join the GEO? A trainee said that, as the saying goes, “the character of a person is shaped at a tender age”, he already liked to take stones back home to study as a child. He felt so fortunate that through the training schemes he could now learn more about the properties of rocks and soil, natural hillsides, underground structures, etc. In time, he would be able to put his knowledge to work and provide supporting services to various works projects to protect people’s lives and property. He truly felt that his job was particularly meaningful and challenging.
Another trainee said that he developed great interest in mining after studying a related course abroad. He hoped that after returning to Hong Kong he would have the opportunity to put what he had learned into practice and participate in cavern development. A trainee recounted how a landslip incident on the Mainland he had witnessed left a deep impression on him and motivated him to dedicate himself to slope stabilisation work. One trainee remarked that as “lofty towers are all built from the ground up”, he would very much like to contribute his expertise to Hong Kong’s future town planning and development.
Tramping hills and valleys to explore geological features
The GEGs at the session also shared with us that their training was not only confined to laboratory experiments. They had the opportunity to go on site visits to various construction sites, conservation areas, etc. across the territory. Sometimes they had to conduct geological surveys, ground investigations, slope inspections, blastings as well as excavation works in the wilderness or in the hills to learn how to prevent the occurrence of slope failures and debris flows on natural hillsides. With the advance of technology, they also learned to inspect the distribution of rock veins with a wide range of equipment such as a sonic tomograph. One of the trainees compared his job to that of a doctor, as both involved “observing, listening, asking and pulse taking”. His patients, however, were rocks and slopes, and prevention was always better than cure.
Commitment to slope stabilisation
Sharing by the trainees brought back my memories. I believe many of us still remember that a series of major landslip incidents in the past caused heavy casualties in Hong Kong. In recent years, the Government’s efforts in slope stabilisation have been well recognised, thanks to the hard work of colleagues throughout the years. In 2017, under the “Landslip Prevention and Mitigation Programme” (LPMitP), the department upgraded a total of 155 government man-made slopes and implemented risk mitigation works for 49 natural hillsides.
As Hong Kong is currently in the rainy season with a higher risk of landslips, the public must not let down their guard. During heavy downpours, we should stay away from slopes to avoid accidents as far as possible. In this connection, the GEO will, in accordance with a risk-based priority system, select government man-made slopes each year for detailed studies under the LPMitP and, where necessary, upgrade the slopes to the required safety standards. In addition, natural hillsides will also be selected under the LPMitP in a systematic way for detailed studies and the implementation of risk mitigation works if necessary. The objective is to keep Hong Kong’s landslip risks at a reasonably practicable low level in the long run. I would like to share with you more of the department’s work when I have the opportunity.
I am delighted to see the breadth of vision and enthusiasm of our young trainees under the schemes. Most important, they are eager to contribute to society. I believe that the two student participants of the “Be a Government Official for a Day” Programme must have learned a lot from the sharing session. I hope that more young people will join the engineering geology and geotechnical engineering professions to contribute their expertise and pass on the torch.
19 August, 2018Back