Interview with Vicky Walkley – past ECE student (2011/12)

1. Where are you from and what was your first degree?

Near Chichester in West Sussex, less than an hour from Southampton! My first degree was Bsc Physical Geography, also undertaken at Southampton, during which I took as many oceanography and coastal modules as possible.
2. Why did you choose to undertake the ECE course at Southampton?

I wanted to pursue my interests in the coastal environment whilst obtaining a more vocational qualification that would make me attractive to potential employers. I wanted to build on the scientific knowledge of coastal processes and geomorphology that I obtained in my undergraduate degree and learn more about how to design practical solutions to coastal management issues. Ultimately, I felt the course would provide me with the specialised training required to pursue a career protecting the lives of people living near the coastline from coastal hazards.


3. What have you most enjoyed about the course?

I’m really interested in the use of soft engineering techniques so enjoyed learning about beach nourishment, beach morphodynamics and managed realignment. The GIS project on managed realignment was particularly enjoyable, allowing each of us complete freedom to independently develop a solution to a real life coastal management problem, using the wide range of skills we had learnt during the course. The Environmental Impact Assessment course was very interesting, with up-to-date case studies and a stimulating coursework project which provided great experience working in a team. The boat work was also really fun and it provides you with good oceanographic data collection experience which is a great practical skill to have on your CV.


4. What research project did you do over the summer?

An investigation into the response of managed mixed sediment beaches to variations in different wave characteristics. I undertook the project in partnership with the coastal team at Halcrow and worked on my project full time in their head office in Swindon from May to September.


5. What were your plans after you finish the course? What did you do after the course?

I knew I wanted to start my coastal engineering career somewhere warm! Alongside working on my thesis, I spent the summer of my master’s degree applying for jobs in the Caribbean and Australia. Two days after I handed my thesis in and finished my degree, I received a job offer from a coastal and maritime consultancy in Perth, Western Australia, which I accepted. During the first six months of my job I have been involved with a wide range of projects including sand bypassing campaigns, hydrographic survey analysis, oceanographic data collection and the design of coastal defence and beach access infrastructure. I’ve even gained some project management experience on a number of government maintenance dredging operations.

I’ve also gained a great deal of site experience:

  • Metocean instrument deployment:

DSCN1679DSCN1680

  • Aerial monitoring flights of the coastline:

P1030034 P1020976

…and sand bypassing operations:

P1030825 P1010981

It’s not bad getting paid to go to the beach!

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