Expert Underground Space / Co-Chair
Amberg Engineering / ITACUS
What is your current job title?
My job title is Expert Underground Space at Amberg Engineering. I am also the Co-Chair of the International Tunneling Association Committee of Underground Space (ITACUS) as well as a Lecturer at ETH in Zurich.
How did you learn about the tunneling industry?
I’ve been in the tunneling industry for nearly 10 years. My background is actually in urban planning. I used to work for the New York City Department of City Planning, then I worked for Parsons Brinkerhoff in London, working on transportation planning. I moved to Zurich and worked for a Swiss multidisciplinary firm, where I learned about the tunneling industry.
You are now a published author, how did that come about?
Along with Han Admiraal, the other Co-Chair of ITACUS, we have presented together with the focus on getting the audience to think deep about the underground. After one of our presentations, we were approached by ICE to write a book about our presentation’s topic. We completed the book, which was published in 2018. The book, “Underground Spaces Unveiled: Planning and Creating the Spaces of the Future”, is written from many perspectives and is meant for a wider audience than just professionals in the underground industry.
When you look at cities worldwide, every city is considering how to expand underground. There is a huge demand for this field. If you’re an engineer and you love solving complex issues, this would be a great field for you.
What do you think is interesting about the industry?
It’s super challenging, it’s a field you can dig into technically. When you look at cities worldwide, every city is considering how to expand underground. There is a huge demand for this field. The unpredictability of certain aspects is interesting. There is a lot of thinking that goes into a job in this field – it’s not mundane.
What type of person do you think is a good fit for this industry?
If you’re an engineer and you love solving complex issues, this would be a great field for you. There is a lot of exposure to various parts of the process. From site investigation to analysis and report writing to drawings and modeling, as well as being on job sites to see the construction – the work is extremely varied.
What do you think the future holds for the industry?
The industry needs to modernize and digitize big time. A lot has been done, but there is still so much to do. As compared to other industries, construction is seen as a dinosaur. There is a lot of room for innovation. We need to make the underground more efficient to reduce uncertainties and manage the work process better. Digitization can help improve efficiency, which will ultimately make underground construction more cost-effective. Also, cities will continue to expand and they will treasure space much more in the future. They will also care more about resilience and adapting to climate change. In order to do so effectively, they need to incorporate their underground space, which in return brings significant opportunities for the industry.