Robert W. "Rob" Porritt

Rob Porritt
  • BS Geological Engineering 2007

Rob Porritt earned a BS in Geological Engineering in 2007. “The GMES department is unquestionably one of the most important influences on where I am now,” says Porritt. “Department Chair Wayne Pennington suggested I pursue an internship, which blossomed into my PhD research. My Enterprise and undergraduate advisor, John Gierke, helped me learn about research, team building, and team leading.”

The coursework gave Porritt a strong science background. “Some of the specialized classes in my last two years were very helpful at making me familiar with the specific questions I am now addressing. The professional meetings, such as SEG, which I attended while at Tech, were also useful to make contacts and see what the future could hold career-wise.”

To Porritt, the hard parts were the common challenges: “Learning personal independence, struggling with tough classes, and finding a part-time job (or five). But I think the biggest challenge for me were the Enterprise/Senior Design projects. These projects really forced me to grow both in terms of research ability and in terms of teamwork. The challenges were invaluable to my personal growth.”

The most enjoyable time at Tech was time spent with friends. “Largely they were friends I met at the residence halls, but I quickly made friends in the GMES department, and the activities we planned through the department (such as rock hunts, broomball, and chili cookoffs) were a lot of fun.”

Porritt is currently a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley studying seismology. “I am working on a project to understand the tectonic structure of the United States by using earthquakes to image the Earth as a doctor uses x-rays to study the internal structure of patients.” In June 2013 Porrit will begin an NSF EAR postdoc at the University of Southern California. He will work on a seismic imaging team investigating the formation of the North American Craton through a seismic array circling Hudson’s Bay.

“Stop considering and just do it; it’s interesting, exciting, has real-world applications, and you will never feel like you’ve ‘worked’ a day in  our life as it’s more like getting paid to play.”
—Rob Porritt

This profile appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of On the Faultline, Volume 2, Number 5.