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Paving the Way for the Future of Underground Infrastructure Industry Leaders

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Tom Iseley and Mike Rispin

The division of Construction Engineering and Management (CEM) at Purdue University started in 1979, and is among a small number of engineering-based construction programs. Dr. Tom Iseley joined the CEM at Purdue University in 2020.

His position at Purdue (Beavers Heavy Construction Distinguished Fellow) is funded by the Beavers. The Beavers is a heavy engineering construction association. It is a social, honorary organization formed in 1955. It was organized and continues to be managed by construction companies and individuals who are or have engaged in heavy engineering construction.

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The Beavers encourages students to be involved with the heavy engineering construction industry. Dr. Iseley established the Underground Construction Association (UCA) of Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) Student Chapter at Purdue which is the third student chapter UCA of SME in the world after the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The request regarding the UCA Student Chapter at Purdue was approved on March 17, 2022, by the UCA Executive Committee and the SME Board of Directors. A team of CEM will represent the Purdue UCA of SME Student Chapter at the North American Tunneling Conference (NAT) which will be held on June 19-22, 2022 in Philadelphia, PA.

For the second time, Dr. Iseley taught the “Development of Underground Space (DUS)” course at Purdue in spring 2022. This course was provided as a classroom option and through the Purdue Engineering online option which was available globally for individuals looking for university credit course. This course brought industry and academic leaders to Purdue in-person and virtually. These individuals are: Greg Raines (Stantec), Dr. Priscilla Nelson (Colorado School of Mines), Brian Dorwart (Brierley Associates), Dr. Ray Sterling (Louisiana Tech), Dr. Conrad Felice (C. W. Felice, LLC), Dr. Jamal Rostami (Colorado School of Mines), Paul Nicholas (AECOM), Robert (Bob) Frew (AECOM), Dr. Paul Schmall (Keller Specialty Services), Michael G. Vitale (Mott MacDonald), Tom Pennington (Brown and Caldwell), Michael Rispin (Chair, UCA of SME / Strata Products Worldwide LLC), Robert (Bob) Goodfellow (Aldea Services Inc.), Jean-Marc Wehrli (Traylor Bros. Inc), Steven R. Kramer (COWI North America, Inc.), Derek Penrice (Mott MacDonald), Henry Russell (Mott MacDonald), Dr. David Chapman (University of Birmingham-UK).

For the DUS Course Project, the Downtown Bellevue Tunnel was selected. The Downtown Bellevue Tunnel project was a part of the East Link Extension project which extends service for Sound Transit’s Link light rail system from the City of Seattle to the City of Bellevue and then into the City of Redmond. The course project just focused on a 1,983 ft single-bore, double-track tunnel mined using the Sequential Excavation Method (SEM).

Special thanks and gratitude to Joseph (Joe) Gildner (Executive Project Director, Sound Transit) for providing the contract documents of the Tunnel Project and Derek Penrice (Vice President, Project Principal – Tunnels, Mott MacDonald) for his support and making a presentation on the Bellevue Tunnel project to the DUS class at Purdue University.

Also, Purdue CEM would like to express the appreciations to Mike Vitale (Senior Vice President and North American Tunnel Practice Leader, Mott MacDonald) for making connections with Joe Gildner and Derek Penrice and also coming to Purdue in-person and making an excellent presentation to the DUS class.
For more information, please contact Dr. Tom Iseley, diseley@purdue.edu.

UCA of SME’s “Down for That”

In 2020, the UCA of SME launched a new educational resource – dubbed “Down for That” – as a tool for the next generation of underground engineers.

Down For That is an initiative that informs students about the underground industry through numerous resources and provides opportunities for them to get involved. The website is designed to be a one-stop resource for students, professors and industry professionals to gain knowledge and share information on the underground construction and tunneling industry.

“The vast majority of Civil Engineering students have no exposure to any underground engineering or construction. If they ever get a glimpse, it comes from us, the UCA members. Exposing them to the exciting and long-term underground career opportunities early in their academic careers is imperative,” said Paul Schmall, PhD, PE, Vice President, Keller North America, and UCA board member.

Students will gain knowledge and university professors can support their classroom through the library of resources, videos, papers, and presentations on underground construction topics, as well as scholarship opportunities. Industry professionals contribute to the resources through video presentations, as guest speakers, and by conducting on-site tours of tunneling projects.

For more information, visit undergroundcareers.org.

Dr. Tom Iseley & Saleh Behbahani

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