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Louisiana Tech’s Trenchless Technology Center celebrates 20 years as industry pioneer

November 2011 will mark the twentieth anniversary of the Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) at Louisiana Tech University and even though the anniversary will be celebrated quietly and primarily by center staff, the accomplishments of the center during the last two decades have been lauded by an entire industry.

Over the past two decades, the TTC has become a leading research facility for the development of technologies influencing almost every aspect of trenchless construction methods and has served as a point of reference for representatives of the trenchless industry.

Administrative Director Dr. Robert McKim says the center’s staff should be credited for its success.  “The core of the TTC is research. We soon will enter our 21st year of operation with Research Director Dr. Erez Allouche leading a dedicated research staff and post-doctoral and graduate students conducting $1.5 million a year in research, ranging from installation of new piping to the inspection, assessment and rehabilitation of existing piping systems.”

Key research programs recently initiated involve the utilization of ultra-wide band signals to see through pipe walls, development and testing of high-temperature cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) resins, the use of polymer sprays for pressure and non-pressure pipe rehabilitation, and the use of geopolymer  concretes.

McKim also believes that the center’s municipal forums have played a key role in helping to educate engineers about trenchless construction methods.  The TTC organizes and sponsors a one-day seminar in up to 15 cities in North America where industry leaders present the latest technology directly to municipalities. Forums are organized in cooperation with a local municipal host who helps identify regional ‘hot’ topics and local needs.

“The TTC, along with the host city, invite the appropriate industry leaders to give presentations on these topics in the morning session,” said McKim.  “In the afternoon session, an open discussion addresses specific local issues and generates a networking opportunity for municipal engineers.  The 2010-11 forum series was attended by over 1,000 municipal workers from more than 50 cities.”

The TTC evolved from the Trenchless Excavation Center at Louisiana Tech, established in 1989 by Dr. Tom Iseley, with a primary focus on microtunneling and horizontal directional drilling.  Expanding its reach to other trenchless technologies, the structure and name was changed to the Trenchless Technology Center in 1991.  It is part of Louisiana Tech’s College of Engineering and Science and one of seven research centers housed on the campus.

Written by Catherine Fraser – cfraser@latech.edu