With Mark Sasaki, Geotechnical Engineer and Supervisor, Mainmark Australia
What does a typical day look like for you?
I have three different roles – the technician, the researcher and the supervisor – so every day is very different. When I am a technician it is all project-based so I need to use my practical skills with the tools and I need to have a strong technical and structural knowledge.
As a researcher, I am always looking for better ways to complete jobs, utilising various materials and methodologies. I was doing half supervisor work and half research work simultaneously for a number of years.
However, right now I am mainly involved in the supervisor side of the job. This includes talking to the customer, trying to manage their expectations and explaining what we can achieve. I then work with the field crew on-site to deliver the project whilst communicating with the client throughout every step of the job. I also regularly consult with the project manager who quoted on the job to work together on delivering the best outcomes for the client.
How did you find yourself working at Mainmark?
I graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of New South Wales in 2003. I joined Mainmark in 2004, where I began as a technician. Between 2006 and 2008 I studied a Masters degree in Civil Engineering through The University of Newcastle, Australia. I completed two years of research in the Priority Research Centre for Geotechnical Science and Engineering. My research project (available online here) focussed on Mainmark’s engineered resin solution, and how it can be used to remediate foundation damage in buildings. I have now been at Mainmark for more than 11 years.
What made you choose this career path?
I have a Japanese background, and I came to Australia in 1997. First I studied English for one year and then studied another year of English, combined with mathematics, physics and chemistry on a university foundation course at University of New South Wales (UNSW). I found I was always good at physics and mathematics and I wanted to take that further, so I started studying engineering at UNSW and focussed on the geotechnical side of things. I was genuinely interested in geotechnical engineering because of the different technologies and how effective they can be in certain applications. So when I graduated from my bachelor, working with Mainmark was perfect for me.
What is it like working at Mainmark?
I love working with the field crews – they are good people and great to work with. We work collaboratively alongside each other to achieve the best result for the client. I think the scheduling, admin and maintenance teams also do a great job of making sure we are efficient. All in all, I really enjoy the teamwork that working at Mainmark involves.
Which projects do you enjoy the most?
We spend about 80 per cent of the time doing residential jobs and I enjoy seeing these clients happy after we carry out the work on their home. That is the main goal: making clients happy. We have a great approach, so that tends to happen a lot. I also quite like commercial work on bridges and large buildings. I have been lucky to travel a lot with the crew, too. Through my work with Mainmark, I’ve visited both New Zealand and Japan.
There was one residential job at an island on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Since it was on an island, we needed to use a barge to get the truck with all our equipment across. The truck is about 10 metres long and weighs about 10 to 12 tonnes, so it was only just able to fit on the barge without sinking it. We had to start at 5am to get the tides just right and we had to wait until 5pm to get back across. As it was in winter, it was very scary because it was getting dark and we could see the water getting higher and higher. Thankfully, we did complete the job and get back across with no issues.
What advice would you give to a student undertaking engineering?
When I was a student, I didn’t think too much about what I could do with my career. But after studying, my options opened up. I think you should really just focus on what you want to do, and then study that as much as you can. Even after you enter industry it is always worth improving your skills. My job is great now – I get to use tools, but I am also a researcher.
What’s next on your radar?
I will continue as a site supervisor, but I am hoping to get involved in some ongoing research on liquefaction mitigation. The research will be spread between New Zealand and Japan and look at how liquefied soil from earthquakes can be remediated using Mainmark’s resin solutions. It has been tested in areas of Christchurch that were affected by the earthquakes. It’s a very interesting project and I’m looking forward to getting more involved with the technical team.
Mark Sasaki is an experienced geotechnical engineer and site supervisor at Mainmark, where he has worked for 11 years. During his masters degree, Mark researched foundation remediation using expanding resin, the same technology behind Mainmark’s Teretek® solution. Based in Sydney, Mark currently supervises field teams in both residential and commercial projects.