Geotechnical Engineer

Mikayla Bowers is geotechnical engineer at Barrick Cortez outside of Elko, Nevada.

Mikayla Bowers
Geotechnical Engineer since 2011
Barrick Mining Company – Elko, Nevada
Cortez Mine

What is your educational background?
Bachelors of Science in Geological Engineering at University of Nevada – Reno

Internships – I was an intern at Barrick Goldstrike mine during the summer of 2010 and 2011 working in the Geotechnical Engineering department.

Why did you become a geotechnical engineer?
I originally wanted to be a Civil Engineer. My senior year of high school, The Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering gave a presentation about the degrees they offered and the potential jobs they lead to.  I fell in love with the idea of being able to split my time at work between working in the office and doing field work.  I met with an advisor in their department and ended up changing before my first semester of college started.

What are your job responsibilities?
The job of a Geotechnical Engineer is to use the data we acquire from different monitoring devices that we install to determine the stability of the highwall.  One task I’ve been assigned with is creating a Geotechnical Monitoring Map.  This map includes information such as topography, faults, monitoring stations, locations of monitoring devices and prisms, and areas of interest.  We also have the ability to show the direction of movement of the prisms we have installed in the pit.  This information can be shown to other departments and personnel to inform them of the potential movement in the pit and make them aware of the hazards. 

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is having the opportunity to work with the newest equipment available.  We currently have two different radars that we use to pick up highwall movement and we are able to compare and contrast the data to determine if there are any areas of concern.  These devices are the latest technology to be used in the open pit mining industry and it’s exciting to be there as they further develop their software and equipment.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is staying up to date on the new technology and information.  In this position, there is always going to be new information coming out and new technology created to better understand that information.  It is important to get invested into continuing education at the beginning of your career so that you can stay up to date on the never ending information that is presented!

What is the best part of working in the mining industry?
There is never a dull moment!! There are some tasks that have to be done every day but other than that, you never know what the day has in store for you when you get to work.  Working at a site that is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, if you take a vacation for any length of time, you never know what you’re going to see when you get back to work.  This industry moves fast and it’s exciting to be at the front and center of it as we continue to grow as an industry.

Any advice to students considering entering industry?
Take advantage of everything that is offered to you.  Some of the most meaningless tasks at the time have the potential to be the most rewarding later down the line.  You can never learn too much from this industry so take the time to get to know the people you work with.  This industry is small enough that the chances you’ll run into the person down the line are very high!