Request a University Speaker

As compared to other types of projects, tunneling is rarely brought into the classroom. The projects are always very interesting and touch on a number of engineering concepts. A presentation about tunneling and underground construction can be multi-disciplinary and cover a variety of Civil Engineering topics, including structural, geotechnical, surveying, hydraulics, construction contracting, and a variety of other civil engineering aspects that can help put these academic principles into real world context:

  • Soil or rock geologic conditions determine the tunneling techniques that should be used.
  • Tunneling often occurs in congested urban environments in very complex ground conditions. There can oftentimes be potential impacts to third party structures due to settlement, vibration, or ground movements. Structural underpinning or settlement control is frequently used to control soil-structure movement.
  • Soft ground tunneling techniques are highly dependent on the behavior of soils encountered within an excavation. Variability in the soil conditions can be highly problematic.
  • Ground improvement techniques are often utilized to improve the characteristics of soil encountered during tunneling; either for soil strength or to address hydraulic permeability concerns.
  • Groundwater control is required on many underground construction projects.
  • Tunneling requires a high degree of care with site characterization. Geotechnical investigations for underground work are critical to the successful planning and performance of this high-risk work.
  • Deep access shafts are often utilized to get to the depths where tunneling can be performed in favorable ground conditions, and where the tunneling operation will not affect shallower structures. The ground support for such access shafts requires geotechnical and structural design to resist significant earth and groundwater pressures.
  • Because tunneling work is completely driven by ground conditions, it uniquely performed with contractual “Geotechnical Baselines” to limit differing site condition contractual disputes and resolve changes in ground conditions expeditiously.
  • Establishing surveying control from the surface to deep underground structures is an inherently unique and interesting challenge related to this field of work.
  • No other type of construction work requires so many diverse problem solving skills.


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