Our people's stories

Paula van Baaren
Coastal engineer

After a period working for an engineering company Paula van Baaren joined Boskalis in 2010 in the role of coastal engineer. As Paula herself puts it: “The big advantage of my role at Boskalis is that as well as giving advice I am actively involved in realizing the hydraulic design during projects in execution. The link to actual practice and the international character inject extra dynamics into my work, which for me is a big advantage of working for a major contractor like Boskalis.”

“What characterizes my job as a coastal engineer at Boskalis is that my work goes far beyond just giving advice. Feasibility during execution is an exceedingly important aspect of designing a hydraulic solution and, once the execution phase starts, as a specialist I still have an advisory role vis-à-vis the project team. This means that I interact a lot with colleagues from a range of backgrounds – from project manager to superintendent and everything in between. This frequent contact with colleagues who have a wealth of project knowledge ensures that I am still constantly learning and naturally this benefits the solutions I come up with. An example of a project I learned a lot from is the construction of the Maasvlakte 2. The design and realization of the 3.5-kilometer stretch of hard sea defense is an innovative concept that is unique in the Netherlands. As part of the building consortium PUMA (Boskalis & Van Oord) we conducted extensive model research at various hydraulic laboratories across Europe in order to be able to demonstrate the stability of the hard sea defense in both everyday and extreme circumstances.

The benefit of an engineering company and a major contractor.

I sometimes joke that Boskalis gives me the benefit of both an engineering company and a major contractor; in addition to advising on complex dredging projects I am involved in feasibility studies and scale model tests as well as being involved in projects in execution. Moreover at Boskalis I have the time for in-depth analysis of technical aspects and we take part in long-term research projects focusing for example on offshore-related issues. In light of Boskalis’ activities we are increasingly presented with queries arising in the Offshore Energy division, for example regarding the construction of wind farms such as the Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm off the coast of Scotland. Offshore issues are especially interesting because the design rules have not yet been developed in detail and you come into contact with disciplines very different from those encountered in the more ‘traditional’ coastal hydraulic engineering. For example in this area we are taking part in the ‘HaSPro’ Joint Industry Project to develop design rules for scour protections for offshore wind farm projects.

As a coastal engineer you will sometimes be called upon to spend short periods abroad, for example to consult with partners and the client during the tender phase or to agree the final design with the client during the execution phase. These trips always provide a welcome change from the office work in Papendrecht. What struck me when I started at Boskalis? It might sound like a cliché, but everyone is extremely proud of all the work we do together. And despite their packed agenda everyone makes time for you if you have a question. Certainly the move to Boskalis was the perfect move for me!”

Do you want to know more about working for Boskalis? Read other stories of our colleagues.