What do you do in the underground construction industry, and how long have you been in the industry?
I have been working in the underground construction industry for a little over 8 years.
I am a project engineer for Frontier-Kemper Constructors - an underground/heavy civil construction general contractor. In my role I support the Project Manager and General Superintendent, provide effective safety supervision, direct construction crews daily activities, plan construction activities, create Construction and Safe Work Plans, provide construction engineering and temporary structure designs, help resolve and coordinate design issues with the Owner and Engineering of Record, manage subcontractors, and review and create shop drawings.
How did you get into the industry, and why did you decide to pursue it as a career?
When I was an undergraduate student my college went on a tour of a major underground transportation project in the NYC area, which piqued my interest in the underground industry. About a year after graduating, a close friend of mine who works with Frontier Kemper Constructors, reached out to see if I was interested in interviewing for a position to work on an adjacent project. Luckily, I was offered a position and quickly realized how much I enjoyed the underground construction industry and I haven’t looked back.
What is it like to work as an engineer on underground projects?
It’s extremely exciting and fulfilling to work as an engineer on underground projects. These projects are complex to begin with, but when coupled with the logistics of working underground and the pace of the construction make them even more complex and as such rewarding. No two days are ever the same which makes coming to work every day a unique experience and allows you to leave work with a new sense of accomplishment.
What professional achievements have defined you and made you proud?
I’m extremely proud to have worked on transportation and water projects that increase the quality of life for my neighbors and the people in my area. Underground projects most often are key infrastructure projects and allow you to make a positive impact on society and make meaningful contributions to your community.
What do you hope the future holds for yourself and for the industry?
I hope that society continues to view and support the underground construction industry as a major cog in resolving some of the infrastructure issues we face today. Metropolitan areas are becoming more and more congested and populated. Underground projects provide smart, viable solutions to resolve transportation, water, and utility needs. I hope to continue to work on these projects and help make meaningful impacts in my community.
What led you to join UCA?
My first experience with the UCA was when I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend a Rapid Excavation & Tunneling Conference (RETC) by my company. I really enjoyed the experience meeting and connecting with other professionals, the comprehensive technical sessions, and the exhibits. I have been a member ever since and continue to attend the NAT and RETC conferences.
What is your advice to a student looking to enter the underground field?
My advice would be to first join the UCA and utilize the litany of resources the UCA provides. These include local student chapters, access to the SME online career center, the OneMine.org library, scholarships, and a member directory.
I would also suggest to directly reach out to companies in your area that are actively working on underground projects, and using the UCA member directory to connect with individuals at these firms.
In my opinion, underground construction experience rapidly helps young engineers develop skills that easily translate to other forms of construction and companies are always looking for engineers with underground experience.