2009 Trenchless Technology Person of the Year: Glenn Boyce

Finding a job that suits your talents, abilities and interests is paramount to creating a successful career. For Glenn Boyce — senior associate with Jacobs Associates — designing a profession around leadership, service and personal passion has allowed him make an impact on the industry and forge his own accomplished career.

For more than 25 years, Boyce has been working in the trenchless industry — whether it’s been lending his knowledge for a project, teaching other professionals or getting involved with industry associations — his dedication has earned him recognition from others, as well as the distinction of this year’s Trenchless Technology Person of the Year.

Boyce’s service to the industry has been a hallmark of his career. He played an instrumental role in developing standards for the upstart field of microtunneling, and, as a two-term chairman, helped guide the North American Society for Trenchless Technology (NASTT) during one of its most turbulent periods. He has also been an advocate and an educator around the globe, launching the China Hong Kong Society for Trenchless Technology and supporting educational programs.

“I’m both honored and surprised to receive this award. I think it’s still sinking in,” says Boyce. “This has been awarded to many of the major contributors to the industry and I’m pleased to be a part of that group.”

Designing a Career Path

From an early age, Boyce was interested in structures, originally focusing his attention on architecture. However, he eventually shifted his sights to engineering. Boyce first started his education at the Baltimore Polytechnical Institute, which was an all-boy high school centered around engineering studies. He then moved on to pursue his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Drexel University, in Philadelphia. As part of his studies, Boyce participated in a co-op program that required him to complete three, six-month internships. To fulfill his educational obligations, Boyce worked for the Baltimore County Public Works Department (BCPWD).

During his first BCPWD stint, he worked with the storm drain group drafting and learning about pipes and conduits. The second term was with the sanitary sewer group where he continued more drafting, but this time for gravity systems. And for the third trip, Boyce went into the structural group — which was primarily culverts and bridges — and began working on pipes and installations.

“There’s an element of learning through field experience,” says Boyce. “As technologies continue to rapidly change, it’s important to bring what you can learn through field experience into the classroom.”

After receiving his bachelor’s in 1979, Boyce stayed on to get a master’s degree in geotechnical engineering at Drexel. While there, Boyce performed acoustic emissions where he listened to rock fractures and breaks to correlate the sounds back to strength of rock. He earned his master’s in 1981 and moved west to pursue a Ph.D. in geotechnical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. During the summers while attending Berkeley, Boyce worked with Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) and its tunneling division — a position that eventually led to a full-time career.

“I worked on different projects with PB over the summer, including the Glenwood Canyon project in Colorado,” says Boyce. “PB then called me in April 1985 and explained that they had numerous projects and wanted me to help out. So, I left school early to work and worked on my dissertation at night. I eventually graduated in 1988.”

Diving Into the Industry

With PB, Boyce was exposed to various tunneling projects that tested his knowledge and new technology. During his time with the company and over the course of his 25-plus year career, Boyce has taken on dozens of unique and challenging projects throughout the United States and overseas.

In 1988 Boyce went to Ankara, Turkey, to work on a motorway project as lead geotechnical engineer. His duties included taking charge of the geotechnical design, exploration and laboratory testing for parts of the project, which spanned more than 139 miles and was built through expansive soils and volcanic rock.

Another notable project, H-3 Trans-Koolau Tunnel, took place in Oahu, Hawaii, from 1989 to 1992. Boyce served as the lead geotechnical engineer on the project and was involved in the design of portals and twin 43-ft wide, one-mile long tunnels that ran through basalitic rock and saprolite.

Then after nearly a decade of working on trenchless projects, Boyce embarked on a job for the San Francisco Zoo in 1997. For the assignment, he took on the position of helping to design a new sewer system for the zoo.

“When I was originally approached, the initial design was to do a lot of conventional open-cut work and a little bit of microtunneling under certain hills within the zoo and areas where they couldn’t get access to,” explains Boyce. “However, from the zoo’s perspective, they didn’t want a lot of open-cut trenches and wanted to remain open throughout the entire construction.”

With that specific design criteria and issues dealing with keeping the zoo open, Boyce and his crew developed a design where one central shaft was created and a series of interceptors stretched from that shaft all through microtunneling. Through a design like this, in the future as new exhibits were generated and being created, the zoo could tap into these microtunneled lines and make connections easily and with less disturbance to the existing exhibits.

“We were able to work out of that one shaft location and minimize the impact to the zoo,” says Boyce. “We were able to basically mine out in five different directions from one location. The project demonstrated trenchless for what its benefits are, which is to minimize public disruption.”

Then in 1998, Boyce moved his family to Hong Kong, where he worked for PB overseas. There he worked on numerous projects, including the Hong Kong Electric 275kV Cable tunnel and the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS) in Singapore with its 96 miles of microtunneled/pipe jacked link sewers. Boyce also spent his time in China and Taiwan spreading the word about trenchless methods.

“I went to Hong Kong to market the ability to do tunnels and other smaller diameter pipes through trenchless,” says Boyce. “I did a lot of trenchless presentations to different audiences and eventually organized and started the China Hong Kong Society for Trenchless Technology in 1999, as part of ISTT.” Boyce was elected and served as the first chairman of the new society.

After Boyce returned to the United States in 2000, he continued working on numerous projects for PB including the West Side Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) project in Portland, Ore. Originally PB was selected to design the tunnel for the project while other companies were in charge of the other components, including a pump station and force main. About a year into the project, the City decided to bring all of the participating companies together under one consultant, naming Boyce the project manager.

“We ended up creating one team that had 23 subs, including the pipelines that led into the tunnel, the tunnel itself, the pump station and the force mains,” says Boyce. “This project was notable in that it was the first time a large diameter slurry boring machine was used in the United States.”

In the end, the project ended up including about 9,500 ft of microtunneled pipelines that fed the main tunnel and a pump station which was one of the largest soft ground excavations to date. The West Side CSO project was named the 2005 Trenchless Technology Project of the Year for New Installation, as well as earned Boyce a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Portland in February 2003.

In 2005, Boyce changed companies and took on the positions of senior associate and supervising tunnel and geotechnical engineer at Jacobs Associates, a consulting engineering firm based in San Francisco. Since joining the company, Boyce has worked on several tunneling projects with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, including the East-West Transmission Main, the Bernal Heights Tunnel and the New Irvington Tunnel.

Getting Involved

Aside from working on numerous projects across the globe, Boyce has also participated in several industry organizations and institutions, including NASTT, the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Colorado School of Mines.

Boyce began his involvement with NASTT in 1993 after he attended the annual No-Dig Show in San Jose, Calif. He sees the organization as a reliable source for useful industry information to benefit companies and trenchless professionals.

“NASTT is a centered organization that’s geared toward trying to promote the industry and its use, from getting the word out, educating and letting people know that these methods exist,” says Boyce. “The great part about NASTT is it’s a group of engineers, owners, contractors, suppliers and everyone’s trying to work and move forward.”

Since joining, he has held numerous positions with the organization including: secretary in 1998; vice chairman in 2000 and chairman in 2001 and 2002. During his time as chairman, Boyce’s persistence was tested as the organization and industry were both facing financial and membership difficulties.

“When I first joined and got involved with NASTT back in 1993, things were going great. The industry was booming and it looked like it was never going to end,” explains Boyce. “However, by late 1999 and early 2000, there was a drop off and things went in different directions. When I took over as chairman, we were really in financial difficulty and trying to survive. As an organization, we ended up putting a lot of effort into our 2001 No-Dig Show in Nashville and it turned out to be a huge success and allowed us to regroup.”

“Glenn Boyce is one of a few key individuals who were responsible for the renaissance and return to significance of NASTT in the early part of this century. As a board member and two-term chairman, he brought a structured and methodical approach to the management of NASTT,” said Mark Wallbom, past chairman of NASTT who is currently CEO of Underground Imaging Technologies.

From 2003 to 2004, Boyce chaired the NASTT Educational Committee, where he joined forces with other members in developing short courses. Under his tenure, the committee created courses about CIPP, laterals and pipe bursting. In 2007, Boyce also helped co-develop NASTT’s New Installation Methods Good Practices Short Course. This eight-hour course, instructed by Boyce and other members, provides exposure to various trenchless methods such as pipe ramming, pilot tube microtunneling and auger boring and is presented at the annual No-Dig Show and other chapter meetings.

Boyce has also been involved in the ASCE Microtunneling Standards Committee since its inception in 1995. The group’s objective was to create an industry standard for microtunneling construction. The original committee was comprised of 52 members — with Boyce acting as secretary — who all contributed various texts to this document. Boyce worked to pull together the information and compiled one solid standard for ASCE approval. After years of writing, editing and ballot processes, the standard was finally printed in 2001.
“We would meet two or three times a year and continue the whole writing and editing process,” says Boyce. “We ended up going through 10 committee and public ballots and eventually got the standard to ASCE and published in December 2001.”

Boyce has even extended his industry involvement into teaching and participating in the Colorado School of Mines’ Microtunneling Short Course every February since 1994, presenting on topics like “Risk Assessment in Microtunneling Design” and “Shaft Design and Construction.” In 2006, he was presented the Microtunneling Achievement Award from the Microtunneling Research Institute at the Colorado School of Mines for excellence in expanding the science of microtunneling and by advancing its art.

“Glenn has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to this industry. In a nutshell, all of us have benefited from the professionalism and selfless commitment to excellence that Glenn brings to the trenchless industry,” Wallbom said.

When designing a project, Boyce believes simplicity is the key to success. “During my talks, I always try to emphasize to the participants to design their projects for success and not necessarily try to break world records,” says Boyce. “All projects don’t need to be projects of the year. I pride myself in keeping my projects simple, not problematic and try to never give the projects the opportunity to go wrong.”

The Next Step

Although Boyce has more than 25 years of career experience and industry service, he doesn’t plan slowing down anytime soon. With plenty of projects coming his way and more money expected to be pumped into infrastructure spending, Boyce anticipates the next few years to be busy ones in the trenchless industry.
“When they told me I was named Person of the Year, I felt like I hadn’t done enough yet and I feel like there’s more things to be done,” says Boyce. “I still plan on being active in NASTT and other trenchless projects and organizations.”

Thanks to some increased infrastructure funding, Boyce has been contacted to make presentations to various departments of transportation along the East Coast about available trenchless methods for infrastructure repair. Boyce has also been invited to participate in the upcoming American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASTHO) meeting and make a presentation on trenchless methods.

“People are beginning to become more aware of the problems facing our infrastructure,” says Boyce. “I think this a good indication for our industry, whether repairs are needed through new installation or rehabilitation. It’s all positive for the trenchless industry.”

Pam Stask
is an assistant editor of Trenchless Technology.
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