Max Ervin (1949 – )

Max Ervin grew up on a farm in Victoria, Australia, dreaming of becoming a doctor but, at the same time, put off by the prospect of long working hours. Although he didn’t avoid the long hours, he says that he is very happy with his choice to study civil engineering and then specialize in ground engineering. He has recently retired from full-time work with Golder Associates, although he continues to work three days a week.

Max considers himself fortunate to have traveled widely during his career, working on a wide range of interesting, diverse projects throughout Australia and 15 countries.

His experience includes the foundations for what would have been the world’s tallest building in Dubai(see below); tunnels and dams in the Philippines; advice during construction of the Chek Lap Kok airport in Hong Kong; ports in India and Brazil; roads in Bangladesh; foundation and approach embankment designs for two separate bridges over the Mekong River in Thailand and Vietnam; Melbourne’s Eureka Tower; and a variety of infrastructure and building projects in Australia.

Max was named Engineers Australia “Civil Engineer of the Year” in 2001. In 2006, he was the recipient of the “Geotechnical Practitioner of the Year Award,” a biennial award by the Australian Geomechanics Society “for significant contribution to the geotechnical profession and the lifeblood of the society.” Max’s nomination noted that his peers considered him one of the leading geotechnical practitioners in Australia, if not the world.

In 2007 and 2008, Max led a team based in Golder’s Melbourne office on the design of the foundations for the Nakheel Tower in Dubai. It was to be the world’s tallest building, over 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) high, in an area between two of the city’s artificial palm-shaped islands. The team planned and supervised the site investigations, and completed the foundation design and a $10 million pile load test. They were overseeing construction of the foundations when the project was put on hold due to financial problems in January 2009.

Max maintains a close relationship with the University of Melbourne, from which he obtained undergraduate and master’s degrees. In 2011, he received a five-year appointment as Honorary Professorial Fellow at the university’s School of Engineering.

As a frequent speaker to young geotechnical engineers and graduating students at the university his advice is:


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