Stefan van de Sande joined Hydronamic, Boskalis’ in-house engineering company, in 2013 after graduating in civil engineering from Delft University of Technology. Stefan made a conscious choice to join the engineering firm of a major contractor. “At Hydronamic I have the scope to both create the design and actually execute it and that really appeals to me,” said Stefan.
“Working as a coastal engineer for a major contractor like Boskalis means working at the cutting edge of design and that involves a certain dynamism. With both time and the information available being in short supply during a tender phase it is a challenge to come up with the best possible design. Creating a hydraulic engineering design always means balancing opportunities and risks, but by really getting to the bottom of what the client wants you try to take maximum advantage of the opportunities in order to stand out from the competition. Playing it safe will not win us any tenders, but it goes without saying that we must be able to defend a cutting-edge design to the client. And so there is ample scope for further investigation and in-depth technical analysis of risks.
Working at the interface of theory and practice.
Following a successful tender I continue to be actively involved in a project, with my duties for example including further detailed elaboration of the design. On one Room for the River project I was actually in the site hut with the superintendents and acted as the first point of contact for technical design questions for both the superintendents team and the client. This makes my role as coastal engineer a genuinely challenging one, because I have to deliver a technically sound design that integrates both the client’s interests and practical feasibility. The Room for the River project happened to be in the Netherlands but as a coastal engineer my work area spans the globe. In the space of a week I might work on a large breakwater in Mexico, a land reclamation project in Indonesia and a local dike in the Netherlands, which means I make virtual flights around the world.
Being an in-house engineering company means being close to the situation on the ground and it is precisely because of this that we encounter issues that require innovative solutions or in-depth technical analysis during tenders and projects in execution. We make active use of graduate trainees to investigate issues, but also participate regularly in research committees such as Joint Industry Projects. For example we are involved in new developments in dredging technology and offshore engineering. We also actively seek to link up with other disciplines, for example ecology in the context of the Building with Nature program. In this context we are constantly looking for ways of using our design to improve the ecological function of a coastal protection work, for example for underwater creatures.
Boskalis is an attractive employer for me because it gives me the scope to initiate my own innovations and investigations which have direct and indirect relevance to tenders and projects in execution.”
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