NAT 2008 Mar 2008
Paula Wallis for TunnelCast
NAT was bigger than ever as San Francisco and the Hyatt Regency welcomed more than 700 attendees to the 2008 conference.
- "This is an increase of about 15% from the 2006 program we had in Chicago", said David Kanagy, Executive Director of SME, "and I think we are very please with the turn out here in San Francisco."
- The sold out exhibition hall was prime real estate for the four day gathering. More than 15 companies hoping to exhibit never got off the waiting list.
- "There's an increase in work in the tunneling business and every city's got a major project going", said Kanagy.
- The host city and surrounding area have several tunneling projects in the works. The Devil's Slide road tunnel on Hwy 1is under construction and the 5 mile Transbay tunnel under the San Francisco Bay for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is in final design, as is the 4th bore of the Caldecott tunnel for CALTRANS.
- According to Bijan Sartipi, District Director for Caltrans, the tunneling contract for that project is valued at between $230 to $250 million.
- With so much work everywhere a major topic of discussion was the lack of engineering staff and skilled construction workers.
- I've been doing quite a bit of recruiting over the last couple of years" said Patrick Doig, Senior Engineer for Hatch Mott MacDonald, "and find myself talking to people all over the world, in South America, in Asia and Europe where we tend to find people with the sort of experience we need but it's proving very difficult."
- Allen Marr, Presidnet and CEO of Geocomp Corp. said the industry needs to tell its story better by talking up the great projects engineers get to work on and how satisfying the work is.
- "The public education system isn't getting enough people into engineering", said Martin Knights, President of the International Tunneling Association, "so the industry is going to have to respond and either retrain people, steer people into tunneling and we have to raise the profile of tunneling careers."
- It's an issue the industry will likely revisit when NAT gathers in Portland, Oregon in 2010.