#WomeninEngineeringDay with Ruby Fritz – Geotechnical Engineer

Ruby Fritz

Ruby Fritz is a Geotechnical Engineer with Tetra Tech Coffey based in our Brisbane office. Fast becoming one of our rising stars within Tailings Storage engineering, Ruby here shares Leading with Science® approach to addressing engineering in mining.

I’m currently working on a number of Tailings Storage Facilities (TSFs) and related projects within the mining industry. My responsibilities include project management, site inspections and audits, instrumentation monitoring, stability modelling, working with drafters on designs, construction supervision and other assessments. During my time in this role I have also been involved in several other projects such as geotechnical site investigations for industrial developments and flood-affected schools.

What do you most enjoy about being an engineer or what inspires you?

I love being an engineer because every single day I am challenged and have to solve problems using a combination of curiosity, creativity, and teamwork. I also find it very rewarding to see a project, for example a TSF, becoming safer every day as a direct result of our work. I think there are so many opportunities, especially within the mining industry, to leave the environment and communities in a better state than when we (or our clients) started operating there.

At university, the topic of my honours thesis was investigating the bioprocessing potential of mine waste for cobalt recovery – that is, using indigenous bacteria to leach cobalt (a critical metal for batteries and renewable energy) from tailings. I am very inspired by the endless learnings and improvements being made in the tailings space. A mix of office work, field work and travel are an added bonus of being a geotechnical engineer.

What are some of the favourite or memorable projects you have worked on?

One of my favourite projects I’ve worked on is an industrial development on an area underlain by historical underground coal mine workings. We drilled some deep boreholes to assess whether the mine void had collapsed. While logging the core I found fossilized leaves from a coal seam that is over 200 million years old! Seeing part of the vast geological history of Earth in a drill hole never fails to amaze me.

What do you hope for future women in engineering?

I hope that students can be exposed to STEM careers from early on in their schooling, and that engineering is seen as a career in which you can help people and the environment – this is what inspires many people into the field. I also hope to continue seeing more diversity of experience and backgrounds in teams and in leadership roles where people can be their authentic selves, rather than trying to fit into a predetermined and often archaic mould of how to be a successful engineer/leader. The industry is moving in a positive direction through supporting parents with flexible arrangements, focusing on psychosocial safety and building a culture of work-life balance, which has been great to see.

What do you most enjoy about working at Tetra Tech Coffey?

The things I enjoy most about working at Tetra Tech Coffey are the people and opportunities. The leaders in the business are extremely approachable and are always open to ideas. I have enjoyed being part of the Environment & Sustainability Working Group, Project Management training, conferences, and even got to spend a week in Perth meeting the broader Tetra Tech tailings team. Seeing the positive impacts of Tetra Tech’s projects on millions of people around the world is really inspiring.

Connect with Ruby at ruby.fritz@tetratech.com

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