Hamed S. Nejad, PE
Michels Construction Inc.
What do you do in the underground construction industry, and how long have you been in the industry?
I have served as a Field Engineer, Project Engineer, Design Manager and Project Manager in my 20 years of experience in the underground construction industry. The most significant projects include: (1) CLEM 7 tunnel Project, Queensland, Australia, (2) Airport Link Tunnel Project, Queensland, Australia, (3) Isfahan, Iran Metro Subway System north-south line tunnels, (4) New York City (“NYC”) Metropolitan Transit Authority Capital Construction East Side Access (“MTACC ESA”) combined Contract CM009 Manhattan Tunnels Excavation and CM019 Manhattan Structures 1, and (5) NYC MTACC ESA Contract CM005 (Manhattan South Structures).
How did you get into the industry, and why did you decide to pursue it as a career?
I was completing my master’s program thesis on analyzing the effects of constructing two twin tunnels under a historical bridge that is more than 700 years old (Isfahan, Iran Metro Subway System north-south line tunnels), which attracted me to underground construction. Once I began my journey, I fell in love with it!
What is it like to work as an engineer on underground projects?
Every day, you wake up to orchestrate something new or challenging that you most likely pondered extensively the night before. The intricate effort required to complete the task is what makes the job interesting.
What professional achievements have defined you and made you proud?
Passing the New York State Professional Engineering License Exam and working on very challenging underground projects in four different continents around the world has provided me with a well-rounded career. I have grown through good experiences with different people with different skills.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced, and how have they been meaningful?
I was part of the engineering team challenged to minimize the ground settlement for underground construction underneath the Sio-Se-Pol Historical Bridge in Isfahan, Iran. The underground construction at the Clem 7 and Airport Link Tunnels included several tunnel boring machines, road headers, and drilling and blasting operations that had to be planned with precision. Another challenge was working on the East Side Access tunnels in New York City, where I spent most of my underground career. One example from the projects was my “shotcrete” or pneumatically applied concrete knowledge brought to the team for achieving successful time and cost savings. The success to deliver these projects through completion, in the planned scheduled time frame and with minimum impact to the community made for “High Stake” challenges and meaningful experiences.
What do you hope the future holds for yourself and for the industry?
I hope I can work on more challenging underground projects like the Amtrak Gateway Tunnel from New Jersey to New York City or the Second Avenue Subway extension with New York City’s Manhattan County. This will allow me to finish my career with additional experiences to share with the underground industry. These types of shared experiences will hopefully provide more attention and value to the industry in the future.
What is your advice to a student looking to enter the field?
New students should get into this industry for its uniqueness, excitement, challenges and tremendous experiences. It may not be for everybody. You must be tough, patient and always willing to learn.
What led you to join UCA?
I felt there were many intelligent and experienced underground professionals in UCA that I could interact with for additional knowledge and to further my career experience.