The Underground Construction Association, a division of SME, has created the Down for That campaign that is targeted to college-level engineers. The campaign was inspired by the challenge and unknown territory often associated with underground projects. The campaign website, undergroundcareers.org, promotes underground construction as an exciting career choice and aims to be the most comprehensive resource for students and professors to explore underground construction and engineering. The campaign has partnered with ASCE to reach the greatest audience but the participation of the UCA companies and individuals is needed to contribute their knowledge and resources to attract more young engineers to join the underground industry upon graduation.
As with nearly all engineering fields, recruiting talent is one of the most significant challenges the underground construction industry faces. Down for That will raise awareness among students of potential career paths in tunneling while they are making career decisions as undergraduates, typically in their junior year. For undergroundcareers.org, the current goal is to populate the site with interesting industry news, project field visit and on-campus speaker opportunities, along with case studies detailing innovations and the complex problems being solved. In addition, the site will be set up to provide valuable presentations, curriculum, and videos for professors to use in engineering classes to further pique the interest of engineering students.
A survey conducted of 113 civil engineering college students indicated that the majority of students seek guidance about engineering career options from their professors. Of the engineering professors we also surveyed, 2/3 of them said they were familiar with the underground construction field, but they also noted a lack of classroom resources to share with students, and they just don’t know how to direct students toward tunneling jobs.
Among the most valuable resources professors sought were tours of tunneling projects, speakers to come to campus, and case studies of different projects. These experiences, professors say, impact students’ decisions, especially since they report that there is typically no academic content dedicated to underground construction and tunneling until the graduate level (which is too late).
Every professor interviewed noted value in hosting speakers in their classes because it gave students a real-world, first-hand look at the broad scope of projects and exploration the field. On-campus speakers and tours of tunneling and underground construction sites provide an introduction to the field that students rarely get through during their undergraduate civil engineering coursework.
We believe that every member of the UCA has the responsibility to replace themselves in the industry. The UCA would like you and your company to participate in this project. There are a number of ways that you can contribute:
1) Make your project available for small groups of students to visit.
2) Go do a presentation at a school.
3) Donate some of your materials for use in the classroom.
We are currently building the content library of the website. We are looking for projects and case studies to publish, members of UCA of SME to be profiled, and to build a list of speakers and tours for professors and students to access. We are also seeking submissions of video footage of projects and stories of engineers in the field. Being included as a resource in this initiative builds your influence and helps position YOUR company as a great place for young civil engineers to work.
Submissions and materials are being accepted and considered now. For more information or to contribute to the project, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.