Graduate Spotlight: Timothy Packulak, PEng, PGeo

Timothy Packulak, graduate student spotlight

"Being in the field of geology and engineering you have an extensive collection of hats to wear in the real world (engineer, geologist, geotech). Wear them proudly, wear them well, and most of the fun that comes from this industry is the investigation and guessing of how things came to be."


Fisher Branch, Manitoba, Canada

Graduate Research Focus:

My research interests are based in rock mechanics, including the geological and engineering characterization of anisotropic materials, improved laboratory assessment techniques for rock characterization, and advanced numerical modelling around the role of shear in damage initiation, propagation and evolution in anisotropic crystalline rocks.

Why I chose to do graduate studies:

I always knew I was going to go back for a graduate degree, it wasn’t a matter of if but when. What pushed me to go back to study was my time working with KGS Group Consulting Engineers in Winnipeg. The company has a strong history of being a firm of intellects with practical skills. I felt by going back I would grow to be a stronger consulting engineer by upgrading my degree and specializing in rock mechanics and tunnel engineering to compliment the practical skills I gained from working with KGS Group.

Tim on second year field course

Tim is pictured far left, during his second year of undergrad

Why Queen’s?:

There is a long story and a short story to this question. The Coles Notes version goes like this.

I originally showed up at Queen’s in 2010 as an undergrad looking for adventure and because my cool older cousins who did engineering here were really good ambassadors of the faculty. I came back to Queen’s as a Master’s student in 2016 specifically to work with Dr. Mark Diederichs. I knew Dr. Diederichs from the Geo Eng program and worked with him as part of my 4th year design project… once you’ve worked with the best where do you go from there? I stayed for my 3rd degree (PhD) as my research project had potential to re-shape the field and I wanted to be the one to see that those discoveries and advancements were made (read: I caught the research bug).

What do you like to do in your spare time?:

As a way to take a break from research I try to stay active by boxing at a local club and running. For activities that are not as physically intensive I’m an avid board game collector and player (25 separate titles and counting) and cribbage card game fan. Because apparently that’s not enough I also volunteer with the Tunnelling Association of Canada and the Canadian Geotechnical Society.

What’s next for you?:

One of my closest friends and mentors told me I was a rock whisperer so I plan on saving the world one rock at a time with that super power. By day though, I’d ideally like to jump back into the exciting world of consulting. I had a great couple years in the field working on hydro-electric dams and would like to go back to consulting designing and inspecting major civil infrastructure.

Tim in the field