Tunneling Field Engineer
Traylor Bros. Inc
What kind of project are you working on now and what do you do every day?
I work for Traylor Bros. Inc as a Tunneling Field Engineer. I am currently in Los Angeles, working on the Regional Connector Project. It’s a twin-bore tunnel connecting different lines. It started in 2014 and will be completed in 2022. We are working on an SEM (Sequential Excavation Methods) Cavern and are doing permanent concrete work and an arch pour now. Daily, my work includes some time in the office, putting plans together and directing the crew. Right now, most of the mining is done and we are doing cut and cover tunneling and station work.
How did you get introduced to underground construction and tunneling?
I was at Colorado School of Mines and was studying Chemical and Biological Engineering. I found out quickly that I really did not like chem! I ended up choosing Mechanical Engineering. As an undergraduate, I got invited to join a graduate field trip to Seattle to see the SR-99 project and I thought it was really neat. I then did an internship in Chicago with Kiewit on a drill and blast tunnel. Those projects helped me find my niche.
While it is not a path for everyone, people who work in underground love it and are passionate. People who do work in the underground are fun and your team is your family.
What do you love about working in this industry?
There are always new challenges and it is never boring. You come into work every day and ask, “Okay, what problems do we have to solve and what do we have to overcome them?” The projects are always pushing us further.
What is interesting and inspiring to you about underground construction?
There is no cap on the work that we can do. We are always pushing — going deeper and harder with new projects. In this industry, you work in a lot of different capacities. I have been a heading engineer and rode on the machines. I have worked on SEM, a more traditional excavation method with TBMs, and now we are doing the final lining project. As an engineer in the underground industry, you learn all the work that goes into making a tunnel. You become involved in all the different aspects.
What is your advice for students considering a career in underground construction?
Try it out. Take a tour. If you experience tunneling and you think it’s fun, run with it! While it is not a path for everyone, people who work in the underground love it and are passionate. People who do work in the underground are fun and your team is your family. It is a smaller community, so people really know each other. We are all a little quirky and weird. It is a great industry to work in and grow with.