Civil Designer Showcase


Gareth Schroeter of Ron Beard Associates took an unusual path into civil engineering. He began at the company as a trainee draughtsman without any formal qualification and progressed to learn the trade by means of on-the-job training. Today, five years after entering the firm, Gareth is involved in high level civil engineering designs under the mentorship of Managing Director Ron Beard and has also enrolled to complete his National Diploma.

Exploring the civil engineering discipline does however come with its fair share of sacrifices. Gareth rotates a full day at the office with academic studies in the evening and is constantly reading up on new ways of performing routine functions. Part of his training includes being competent on Civil Designer and AllyCAD. "I started off by reading the AllyCAD manual and tutorials and was ready after two days to put some of the theory to practice by doing actual designs. You get to learn a lot about the engineering practice by being in the draughting office. I also found my progression from here to Civil Designer, while working closely with the civil engineers and reading the Tech Tip tutorials and training manuals to be much easier," says Gareth, adding that his learning experience is never ending.

Working for Ron Beard Associates has however provided the greatest learning of all. "You learn so much more in the office than you do from book work and when you work for a smaller company like Ron Beard Associates, you get exposed to a much wider scope in multidisciplinary projects. One day you’re working on a road, the next a dam and then a structure. I love it! I also enjoy the fact that you can visually see the end result of a completed design in the finished product. The works of civil engineers are all around us and I am thriving in this environment," says Gareth.

A current project which is allowing Gareth to continue his path of learning is the Mount Fletcher water reticulation project. This rural town and village upliftment project required water supply to the town of Mount Fletcher and twenty-four villages. The project is divided into various phases and is quite extensive in its entirety.
  The venture encompassed a dam, a water treatment works, the construction of bulk and reticulation distribution pipelines and storage reservoirs, as well as the drilling and equipping of boreholes at five rural villages. "I am enjoying this assignment because of its scope and complexity. We did the dam design for the project and I was also actively involved in the design of the water treatment works. Other aspects of design work included vast amounts of digital terrain modeling and elements of roads design."

"I made use of the 3-D functionality in Civil Designer to help check anomalies and also to create a visual representation of the project. The software was also fantastic when it came to bitmap handling."

According to Gareth, one of his greatest challenges was that he was never on site and produced his designs mainly from orthophotos and from the input of Resident Engineers. Although this method worked well, he confesses that nothing beats going on to site and actually seeing the terrain conditions for yourself before embarking on the design. The Mount Fletcher water reticulation project started in 2001 and is likely to be completed in the next year or two.

Other smaller projects which Gareth is currently involved in include the Maduruleni Hospital Project, a water infrastructure design project requiring pump stations and reservoirs as well as the re-construction of the hospital itself. There is also the upgrade of various Magistrate homes in and around East London and the design of numerous rural town access roads. According to Gareth, having a mentor like Ron Beard with more than thirty years experience in the industry to supervise his designs, presents an incredible opportunity to learn and improve on performance. This influence has fuelled his long term goal and inspired him to continue his path of learning in the hope of some day joining the ranks as a senior member of the civil engineering profession.

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