Monday, November 22, 2010

Local Students Learn about Engineering and Teamwork at the New Crystal Springs Bypass Tunnel Project

After driving by the New Crystal Springs Bypass Tunnel site in San Mateo for several years, Dr. John Venuti, the Director of Information Technology at nearby Crystal Springs Uplands School, arranged a site visit for a group of his top senior students.

Strong in math and considering careers in engineering, the students met with project staff and learned about engineering and construction careers associated with the project.

Students learned about the importance of the Water System Improvement Program (WSIP) to rebuild and upgrade the Hetch Hetchy water system before the next major earthquake strikes the San Francisco Bay Area. They were excited to learn that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to educate the public about the WSIP and many other projects.

Blake Rothfuss, assistant construction manager and consulting engineer with Jacobs Associates, told the students how the new tunnel was created using a tunnel boring machine. He explained the advantages of boring the tunnel and placing the pipeline deep underground, deeper than the original, near-surface pipeline to improve its performance during an earthquake. “Planning, commitment, advanced engineering and teamwork are needed to successfully complete unique tunnel projects like this one,” said Blake.

SFPUC civil engineer Holly Chan talked about the importance of teamwork and how working together moves the project forward successfully. After graduating from San Francisco State University with a master’s degree in civil engineering, Holly has been able to put her engineering skills to the test by working on this complex and often difficult tunnel project. “It can be hard sometimes, but we work together and figure out the best way through a problem,” said Holly.

“These students are setting their sights on careers in engineering,” said Dr. Venuti. “Talking with successful engineers working on a huge project like this is really a great benefit for them.”

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