BTSYM Conference Report 2016

The BTSYM hosted their third conference on Friday 11th March 2016 at Pinsent Masons LLP in London.

The conference featured presentations from the UK and internationally based tunnellers, represented by ITA Young Members from France, Belgium and the Czech Republic. More than 80 budding tunnelling professionals and university students from the UK and abroad were treated with an array of podium presentations addressing the theme Challenges of Today, Challenges of Tomorrow. The aim of the BTSYM conference was to offer a platform for young tunnelling professionals to share their knowledge and experience so far in their career, and to allow others to learn and expand their understanding on various topics. This was conveyed in 12 presentations delivered over four sessions, which covered local and international projects, as well as current research initiatives. Presenters were from various stages in their careers and represented stakeholders ranging from contractors, academia, designers and project owners. Truly, a testament to the collaborative spirit and knowledge sharing that the BTSYM supports.

The conference commenced with BTSYM chair, Mateusz Wojtasik, welcoming delegates with an opening speech, followed by a presentation from keynote speaker, Ivor Thomas of BAM, on the important role innovation and clever engineering plays in success and professional development. "Success has many parents, but failure is an orphan" - although many would like to disown a failure rather than embrace it, the industry requires new ideas to move forward, relying on dynamic action, as opposed to static fear in approaching a problem without an apparent solution readily available. Presentations that followed exemplified the current challenges being faced on tube station upgrades and technical solutions to meet the perplexing issues. Presentations from international speakers showcased projects from locations such as Pakistan, Nepal, and Iceland, demonstrating the diverse geological and practical issues faced on an international scale which inspired unconventional solutions.

For the first time, a poster competition was held, which allowed participants an alternative avenue to define and convey their solutions to projects and challenges faced. The top three winners for the poster competition were David Brock, with his illustration of the Construction of the Crossrail Overbridge, Ben Pollard, covering PAL 12 on the Victoria Station Upgrade (which involved the combination of a 14 meter deep shaft and 3 subsidiary tunnels using SCL, beneath a Victorian brick arch sewer) and Eleanor Kentish, with the poster entitled 'Robotic Application of a 50mm-thick Sprayed Concrete Fireproofing Layer'. The prize winners were judged by the conference attendees and were well deserved victors.

After officiating at the prize giving ceremony, the BTS chairman, Roger Bridge, concluded the conference with words of encouragement to future tunnelling engineers, and placed emphasis on the responsibility that young professionals have in advancing the industry through innovative ideas to meet complex challenges. Mateusz Wojtasik gave his thanks to the organising committee and encouraged young members to get involved in similar rewarding opportunities in BTSYM. The day ended with a social session fuelled with drinks and food, where delegates continued their discussions on topics presented.

Benjamin Mok CH2M