Ray Hashimee, PE, CCM
VP of Tunneling/Underground Construction
EPC Consultants, Inc.
What do you do in the underground construction industry, and how long have you been in the industry?
I have been in the underground construction industry for over 24 years. Half of those years was working for a heavy civil contractor and the other half as a construction manager. I have done tunnel projects all over the United States, including New Jersey, New York, Washington, Washington DC and Virginia. Currently, I am the resident engineer/construction manager for the $454 million Design-Build RiverRenew Tunnel System Project in Alexandria, VA.
How did you get into the industry, and why did you decide to pursue it as a career?
After about two years working for a consultant company right after college, doing residential sanitary sewer and water line design and inspection, I knew I needed something more meaningful and exciting. I decided to switch companies, and I started working for Grow Tunneling in New York City. The rest is history…. I truly think it was meant to be. Even after 24 years, my passion, drive and love for this industry continues to grow. I love going down in the tunnel to show and teach someone everything about a tunnel boring machine (TBM). Just to give you an example: A few years ago, I took down to the tunnel a young student who was the son of one of my colleagues to show him the TBM, and to this day, his father still says that his son continues to talk about that visit. Who knows, we may have a future tunneler.
What is it like to work as an engineer on underground projects?
It is the most awesome thing in the world. Knowing that you are doing something for the environment and improving people’s lives is a great feeling.
What professional achievements have defined you and made you proud?
There are several: First, becoming a partner at my company, EPC Consultants, Inc. Second, over the last 10-plus years, I was fortunate enough work on a major environmental project called DC Water Clean Rivers Project in Washington, DC to reduce combined sewer overflow (CSO) from going into the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. Since the commissioning and putting into service of the first phase of the tunnel system, we have captured over 12 billion gallons of combined sewer and over 7,500 tons of garbage that would otherwise had gone into these rivers. Third, winning the ENR (Engineering News-Record) Project of the Year Award in 2016 For the Blue Plains Tunnel Project (also part of DC Water Clean Rivers Project).
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced, and how have they been meaningful?
In the underground industry, you have the opportunity to meet and work with many different talented people and with that comes different personalities and work ethics. The biggest challenge for me has been to learn how to best navigate and adapt to someone who has a “gotcha” mentality by learning to change how I interact with this type of individual so that it does not affect the team or the project and become a problem. You never stop learning. I guess this can be said to be true for any industry or even in our personal lives.
What do you hope the future holds for yourself and for the industry?
My personal hope is to continue to make a positive impact on the industry that I love. My hope for the industry is that we do a better job of mentoring younger folks to eventually take on more meaningful roles. This also includes giving folks in the industry opportunities to get more involved in organizations such as UCA. It appears that the same people (year after year) get elected to the leadership positions.
What is your advice to a student looking to enter the underground field?
Try to get an internship while in college.