Students on placement with the Panama Canal Authority

18 July 2017

Trekking through the Panama rainforest; image by Conor White
Trekking through the Panama rainforest; image by Conor White

MESci Geology students Filip Taylor, Bethan McCarroll, Conor White and Luke Deamer, were given the opportunity to undertake an academic-led placement with the Panama Canal Authority.

The placements were fully funded by Cardiff University’s Global Opportunities Centre, which helps students to spend time abroad working, volunteering or studying during their time at university.

The Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and allows for more efficient shipping routes around the globe, avoiding navigating the seas around South America. After many failed attempts at connecting the Oceans, the canal was finally opened in 1914. Since then, the geologists of the Panama Canal Authority have worked in collaboration with other departments to maintain and expand the Canal, with particular focus on landslide mitigation along a thin section of the canal called the Gaillard Cut.

During the month-long placement they worked alongside the Canal Authority’s geology team under the supervision of Dr David Buchs, a lecturer at the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences with an ongoing project researching the geology Panama Isthmus. The students were able to gain hands-on work experience ranging from geotechnical training to jungle exploration and volcanological mapping. You can read more about their experiences in the Global Opportunity Centre’s Globetrotters blog.

Bethan McCarroll was enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with the Panama Canal Authority: “Having never travelled outside Europe before this was an amazing experience for me. I learnt what it is like to work as a contracted geologist among inspiring and experienced people. For me, the highlight of the trip was contributing to the work that keeps the Panama Canal running, an important route in global trade.”

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