Justin Smith, Erika Donaubauer, Jeremy Horwitz, Drew Wolfred, and Michael Bensdorf
Today was our fifth day in London and we spent the day being shown about by Bechtel. The morning started out by taking the underground out a direction we had never gone before, it is somewhat overwhelming that no matter how many different directions you go on and how many different train lines you take, there’s always another corner of London you have never seen. We arrived at the Crossrail headquarters, which was a bit overwhelming at first because it was arranged in a financial district and within the same building as the European headquarters of Visa. This meant that it took about 30 minutes to get through security with your newly made picture security ID badges. Once we were inside we were given a presentation on the Crossrail project.
The Crossrail project was quite a surprise. It is a 15.9 billion pound project but yet not one of us had heard of the project. It will require 94,000,000 man-hours and roughly seven more years to complete. It consists of seventy miles of track and twenty-one kilometers of tunnels and it is currently the largest infrastructure project being built in Europe. The logistics of this project were mind boggling and consisted of complications between existing railings, stations, utilities, and countless unexpected conditions. They reported that approximated a third of the utilities encountered in the constructed were unreported by previous records. While these utilities were normally dead and did not present a terrible challenge overall, they took time nonetheless.
We then walked over to Paddington Station and were presented with the primary purposes of the current project at the station including the reallocation of the taxi ramps so they could allow for the construction of the new Crossrail station. We were then shown a demolition project of a building where the Tottenham Court Road station’s entrance will eventually be built. The project was being performed by hand-demolition in order to save the Victorian Era bricks that go for 1 pound each as well as to keep the noise levels down. The bricks are just one example of the intricacies of projects like this. Literally every single brick in the structure of a demolition is considered.
At this point we were given a little “job” to do by answering a question about the largest risks and issues associated with the Crossrail project. We came up with several including safety, sustainability, demolition, 2012 Olympics, logistics, and integrity/reputation and then presented them to the rest of the group. The functions manager of Bechtel Civil Division, the Graduate Coordinator, and the manager of the Gatwick Airport project then gave us presentations.
We then had drinks and dinner with some of the select Bechtel executives and it was a delicious feast to say the least. It was really an invaluable experience for all of us. Even before dinner actually began we arranged in a room for a reception. This was great because it was our first opportunity to really interact with professionals on a level that would typically be impossible in business settings. In all honesty some of the biggest benefits we experienced tonight were being able to talk to the professionals we had met about aspects of the engineering, living in a different country, working globally, etc. on a more personal level. Some younger employees of Bechtel were in attendance which was absolutely great, it really gave us an insight and contact to get a better understanding of what its like to be immersed in a global engineering environment at a young age.
Today was an incredible opportunity to experience what it is like to really be involved in an enormous global engineering project. Not just in the office and conference room, but also on the job site, on the move through a busy metropolis, and most importantly as a potential client, colleague, superiors, and countless other possible future contacts.