Rising Star Award

This is for UK-based geotechnical/geo-environmental engineers and engineering geologists with up to five years of industry experience – or up to three years, if the entrant has completed a PhD degree – who have shown innovative thinking, astute business acumen, made a significant contribution to a project, or demonstrated technical ability through research.

Jacob Bennett
Mott MacDonald

Jacob Bennett is an engineering geologist working within the transportation unit of Mott MacDonald. Since graduating in 2019 with an MSc in Engineering Geology, Jacob has spent most of his career working on the N1/N2 contract of HS2. Since joining the project, he has worked in several geotechnical roles and is currently helping manage and coordinate the designer’s geotechnical construction support team. In addition to his work on HS2, Jacob has made significant contributions to other projects including slope stabilisation works in the Caribbean and the development of geotechnical engineering guidelines for potential geological disposal facilities in the UK. Beyond his project work, Jacob is passionate about providing new pathways for geologists to start their careers in geotechnics. To support this, he is an early careers committee member of the Engineering Group of the Geological Society and is currently leading Mott MacDonald’s recruitment of geotechnical degree apprentices.

Archie Bunney

After two years working on geo-environmental consultancy ground investigations for housing developments, in 2023 I successfully transitioned to become an engineering geologist working on the detailed geotechnical design and construction support of high-speed rail and associated infrastructure. I have become competent in a range of geotechnical engineering, including 3D geological modelling, soil and rock slope stability analysis, and geotechnical parameter derivation. My fieldwork involves logging pile arisings, inspecting cuttings, check logging, and independent witnessing of geotechnical testing. I have been a strong advocate for the consideration of ""pure"" geology in construction and how it can encourage sustainability and impact geotechnical engineering. I am also key in expanding the use of digital software applications to geotechnical engineering as well as geological fieldwork. Outside of project work, I am committed to inspiring the next generation of geologists as a STEM Ambassador and have played an important role within my company’s ED&I group.

Connor Caplen

I have been geotechnical design lead on a wide range of design elements for the Levenmuoth Reconnected rail project, being directly responsible for platform retaining walls, station footbridges, multi-span bridges >90m in length, ancillary buildings and culverts across the scheme, while also managing several ground investigations in an area of historical coal mining with significant design flood events. I have demonstrated enthusiasm and effectiveness for the role, while also challenging myself with project management and financial aspects of the project. In addition to my project work, I have volunteered at STEM events and refugee charities, while also being an active participant in industry committees helping to shape the future of civil engineering.

Milagros Guerrero Espino

Milagros is a highly motivated Geotechnical Engineer with experience in the design and construction of projects in the UK, Dominican Republic, Greece, Saudi Arabia and Paraguay. She joined AECOM as a graduate engineer after completing her dissertation on “The Effects of Modelling Unsaturated Flow on Slope Failures” for her Masters degree at Newcastle University. Beyond her geotechnical engineering duties, Milagros actively integrates digital tools to enhance project delivery, demonstrating a robust enthusiasm for innovation and automation. Self-taught but proficient in the use of Microsoft Power Platform, she seamlessly incorporates these valuable tools into project design and commercial aspects. Milagros is the Work Experience Lead and STEM Ambassador sub-coordinator in her office. As co-founder of the Karabu Foundation, she's committed to improving the social and geo-environmental awareness of a community near a Gold Mine in Cotuí, Dominican Republic. She also volunteered in coordinating and constructing over 30 Emergency Houses.

Peter Hensman
Ward & Burke Construction

Peter Hensman has shown both technical excellence and innovative thinking in both industrial and academic research capacities during his geotechnical engineering career to date. Following completion of his MEng Engineering Science and geotechnical engineering degree at the University of Oxford, Peter joined Ward & Burke Construction as a geotechnical design/site engineer. Since joining Ward & Burke, Hensman has worked on geotechnical design and delivery of underground structures including caisson shafts, microtunnels, deep excavations and deep/shallow foundations across major wastewater and energy infrastructure projects throughout the UK and Ireland. He has balanced this role alongside the rigours of a research masters degree, investigating soil-structure interaction for modern combined wall deep excavations at the University of Oxford, using field monitoring, laboratory testing and numerical analyses. Hensman is committed to supporting students and young engineers through their early careers in his role organising site placements, and enjoys promoting careers in geotechnical engineering.

Daniel Hope

Dan has over 4 years of boots-on-the-ground experience as an Engineering Geologist, contributing to geotechnical and geo-environmental interpretative reporting, health and safety documentation, and project estimating. Dan moved to Arcadis in 2021 and has worked as the Site Agent for a >£700k project at Northstowe for Homes England, managing the project from cradle to grave and overseeing a team of up to 30 site engineers and specialist contractors Dan identified and solved key project risks through proposing changes to certain locations to obtain more information. Dan has been involved in science outreach with the Early Career Network of the GSL , assisting with, careers days and organising technical webinars with a global audience. Dan was promoted to Senior Consultant in September 2023.

Nathan Lee
Klohn Crippen Berger

Nathan Lee qualified from his first degree in Civil Engineering in 2020, and then immediately joined the Imperial College MSc course in Soil Mechanics for the 20-21 session. Nathan joined Klohn Crippen Berger (KCB) on the successful completion of his MSc and has stayed there to date. During his tenure at KCB, Nathan has been actively engaged in computational numerical analysis and CPT parameter derivation. His work in this area has been presented and subject to rigorous review by esteemed professionals such as Mike Jefferies and Dr. ""Nordie"" Morgenstern. In past years, Nathan has spent time traveling to multiple countries, Canada, Sweden, and South Africa to name, completing a series of site investigations and dam safety audits of tailings facilities. Additionally, Nathan currently serves as the Co-Chair for ICE Yorkshire & Humber ECN, further demonstrating his commitment to advancing the field of geotechnical engineering.

Georgia Malin
Leap Environmental

I have 4 years’ experience working with redevelopment sites as a geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineer. My role includes project/client management, data capture innovation, data interpretation and providing technical recommendations. I have experience supporting clients with redevelopment of both greenfield and brownfield sites. These have included former landfills, allotments, ministry of defence sites, petrol stations, paper mills, farms, open fields and maintenance depots. The majority of my experience has been for residential redevelopments but also includes commercial (warehouses and offices), service identification, GIS and supporting local councils in their contaminated land prioritisation. I am part of a GIS development team, and have also aided in the development and use of tablets onsite as a more sustainable and efficient way of working. I am also part of the Early Careers Committee of the Engineering Group within the Geological Society attending regular meetings aiming to create events/forums for early career professionals.

Cheng Wei Kwang
Mott MacDonald

Cheng is an assistant geotechnical engineer at Mott MacDonald, experienced in delivering large-scale infrastructure works, particularly on deep excavations and retaining structures. She is Secretary of the British Geotechnical Association Early Career Group - promoting geotechnics to students and coordinating events for young professionals. She influences management decisions through her role as the divisional Early Career Professional Lead within Mott MacDonald. Cheng has developed designs and undertaken a lead site support role on a HS2 asset. Her efforts were recognised when she won the HS2 DJV Rising Star Award for technical excellence. Through her site experience, she grew her interest in the Observational Method (OM) and is keen bring together well-winnowed experience and new technologies to achieve design optimisations. She drives sustainability in the industry, utilising her geotechnical knowledge in OM to not only achieve carbon and cost savings, but also to bring upon a positive social outcome.

Christopher Wilkes

Chris's journey began in oil and gas, but environmental concerns led him to a PhD in engineering at the University of Cambridge and a career at Arup. His research focuses on fresh concrete behaviour in deep foundations, a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of sustainability. Driven by this challenge, Chris champions innovative designs and defect-free construction by influencing global standards through the EFFC/DFI tremie guide. Internationally recognised, Chris chairs workshops and contributes to technical committees. His recent paper predicts foundation defects with a novel method, while another takes a holistic view of concrete performance, shifting industry perspective. Beyond concrete, Chris was awarded the Midland Geotechnical Society Early Career Award in 2022 for his automation workflows and he also fosters open-source collaboration through cross-industry working groups. A recent on-site project reaffirms his belief in combining theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience is the key to being an impactful geotechnical engineer.