An RETC program for professionals 04 May 2017

TunnelTalk reporting

Every two years, industry leaders and practitioners of North America and from around the world gather at the RETC - Rapid Excavation and Tunneling Conference - to learn about the most recent advances and breakthroughs in the field of underground space and tunnel design, excavation, construction and operation.

Increasingly, tunnels are having to be constructed in larger dimensions, to greater depths, and through more challenging conditions. The expectation on the industry is to complete these demanding projects successfully while meeting other heavy civil engineering challenges including sustaining quality, schedule, performance, and safety.

The biennial RETC series is sponsored by the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) and provides a forum for practicing professionals to keep up with the ever changing and growing tunneling industry and to stay abreast of new trends and technologies as well as innovative concepts, new equipment, materials, management, financing, and design methods.

This year the conference delegations will gather in the welcoming coastal city of San Diego in Southern California from June 4 to 7 and is staged just weeks following the successful breakthrough of the 17.4m diameter TBM Bertha at the end of its eventful drive to excavate the double deck highway tunnel in Seattle, Washington. This was the largest ever TBM manufactured and operated when launched in July 2013, and remains among the top three largest TBMs ever built to date.

San Deigo, Southern California - host city for RETC2017
San Deigo, Southern California - host city for RETC2017

For the past 20 years, the RETC event every two years, has proven to be a leading conference for tunneling innovation concentrating on the practical side of the industry, less on the academic side, and more on construction experiences over the design and consulting services. Attendance at the conference regularly exceeds 1,400 delegates and often from more than 30 different countries.

Industry sectors covered in the programme of technical presentations include: geotechnical engineering, site investigation exploration, environmental protection concerns, project economics, equipment manufacturing, government policy towards underground infrastructure development, water/wastewater systems and underground transportation needs.

To match the content of the technical sessions, the conference includes a comprehensive exhibition with booth holders representing the full spectrum of industry equipment, supplies, materials and services. For a full list of exhibitors and highlighting our TunnelTalk partner companies, visit our exhibition preview and interactive booth locator.

Short courses, field trips, tours and enjoyable social events round out this ever-popular fixture in the industry’s conference calendar.

Networking opportunities

Meeting new acquaintances and reconnect with industry colleagues is a major reason for attending the RETC.

RETC regularly attracts more than 1,000 delegates
RETC regularly attracts more than 1,000 delegates

At the 2017 event the welcoming luncheon on Monday, 5 June will include a presentation about the California highspeed rail project by Michelle Boehm, SoCal Regional Director of the California High-Speed Rail Authority and Randy Anderson, the Statewide Engineering Manager of the California High Speed Rail Authority, a topic that will be of high interest to the tunnel construction industry as the project includes significant underground sections on the route both into Los Angeles in the south and San Francisco in the north.

On Monday evening, the UCA Young Members will host a networking event. Anyone registered for the conference and 35 years of age or younger are invited to join other young professionals to learn more about UCA and meet colleagues in the tunneling industry from around the world.

At the UCA of SME breakfast on Tuesday morning, 6 June, UCA of SME Chair, Artie Silber will present a report on:

  • UCA activities
  • Industry updates
  • Upcoming conferences
  • An ITA report as the US member nation society of the international ITA Association
  • Announcement of UCA scholarship recipients and will
  • Introduce Michael Roach as the new incoming Chair of the UCA.
Engaging sessions and a comprehensive exhibition make for successful RETC conferences
Engaging sessions and a comprehensive exhibition make for successful RETC conferences

A presentation at the RETC dinner on the evening of Tuesday, 6 June, will be delivered by Doug Most, Editor of The Boston Globe and Author of The Race Underground. The presentation will track a history of tunnelling, from bare hands and bare feet, to sticks and rocks, to picks and axes, to shovels and claws, to shields and boring machines. The evolution of tunneling is a story of mankind learning, growing, and improving with each new generation for Most with the tunneling story never more important than current times, with cities facing crumbling underground infrastructure and new, costly challenges every year. The 30-40 minute presentation, with photos, videos, and audio, will weave through the narrative of the history of tunneling and will include dramatic stories, profiles, and projects that have brought the tunneling industry into the modern era of metropolitan growth.

As always, TunnelTalk and its team of video and reporting journalists and promotional managers will be attending the conference and will be at Booth 205 in the exhibition hall.

We look forward to reconnecting with friends and colleagues and to meeting new contacts as we all enjoy another RETC gathering following the last in New Orleans in 2015. See you there!


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