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New UCA Chair looks ahead to an exciting two-year term

Erika Moonin was named UCA Chair during the 2023 Rapid Excavation & Tunneling Conference (RETC) in Boston, MA June 11-14. Moonin will serve as chair for two years. Lonnie Jacobs was named UCA Vice Chair during the meeting, and Mike Rispin moved to the role of Past Chair. Bob Goodfellow, Tony J. O’Donnell, Matt Preedy and Red Robinson completed their terms on the executive committee.  Everett Litton, Paul Madsen and Anthony Pooley were elected to serve on the executive committee as directors.

Moonin’s Chair Column is here:

It is an exciting time to be in the underground industry. Our cities and towns are growing and changing how we value infrastructure. There are many new innovations being spearheaded by both start-up companies and international and domestic underground companies, and we are seeing many large infrastructure projects take shape. Additionally, we are witnessing the introduction of exciting new uses for underground space.

As we head into a new era of growth in our cities, it is natural to look below the surface to expand, and with this increase in demand for underground infrastructure we will be challenged to develop more efficient ways to tunnel, safer ways to work, and more collaborative ways to engage all of our stakeholders. Projects are increasingly calling for a broader range and more diverse group of stakeholders — both internal and external to the project. To meet the upcoming demand we as an industry will need to focus on three of the following main areas if we want to succeed and be instrumental in the shaping of our future cities and connecting people and communities.

We will need to attract talented, dedicated and diverse people into the industry.

We will need to gain a more collaborative and inclusive approach to managing and executing projects.

We will need to continue to advance technology-driven solutions and streamline processes. 

To attract talent we have many great programs like Teach the Professors and Down for That, which focus on attracting college-age and younger members to the industry. A new committee of UCA is currently being formed to expand our outreach to K-12 students to reach and inspire the younger children as they learn and explore potential careers. I am excited to see the amazing ideas this committee will develop under the leadership of Sarah Wilson. I am personally interested and supporting this initiative because not only do I have middle- and high-school-age children, but I also think it is fun to share what we do and the impact we leave beyond our generation to the younger generation — to our future leaders and tunnelers.

Including a more diverse group of stakeholders will help to ensure projects serve the needs of the communities, and will aid in communicating and educating stakeholders and the community on the benefits and uniqueness of underground solutions. There are many benefits of underground space that should be explored and compared and contrasted when looking at new solutions for infrastructure. The UCA will be developing resources to support more communication and education of stakeholders through a new Government and Public Affairs Committee that will be spearheaded by Bob Goodfellow. I see this as very instrumental in the upcoming two years. These new tools and programs can include types of educational resources that can be provided to elected officials, policymakers and decision-makers. 

Technology and efficiency will remain at the core of our business. We are forward thinkers and rise to address so many challenges and difficult subsurface conditions. With many start up companies looking to transform public transportation and revolutionize tunneling, focus on innovation will remain paramount. The UCA has several working groups that focus on advancing and establishing new standards and participate in the International Tunneling Association. I would like to support the development of more resources and guidelines from the working groups and continue to expand our conferences for showcasing technology advancement and idea exchange.

I look forward to being your Chair as we move into an uptick in tunneling projects worldwide and at a time with great innovations emerging. UCA strives to be your go-to association for networking, learning and a platform for volunteers leading our industry and making a difference.

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