Tom Iseley and Bernie Krzys

Last Word – Trenchless Technology: The Trenchless Industry Driver

tom iseley

Several years back, Steve Kramer, vice president of COWI, and I worked together to develop a presentation on the 10 major milestones that have made the trenchless industry what it is today.

Of course, the launching of the Trenchless Technology magazine was high on this list. The past 30 years have brought so much change and innovations in our industry, and it has been exciting to see how rapidly Trenchless Technology has been innovated in responding to industry innovations in an effort to not only keep the industry informed through the written word, but to lead the way through road shows, workshops, seminars, managing no-dig conferences and so much more.

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It was in 1987 when I first met Bernie Krzys at the American Augers exhibit booth at the RETC conference in New Orleans. I was at Purdue University working on a trenchless research project for INDOT. This meeting resulted in the NUCA Horizontal Earth Boring and Pipe Jacking Committee (currently the TT Committee) forming a national working group headed by Leo Barbera, Len Liotti and Mike Argent to support my efforts at Purdue.

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The Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) vision emerged from this bond. When TTC was established, Bernie was president of American Augers and became one of the first industry companies to invest in the TTC IAB (Industry Advisory Board). This has been a culture that has characterized Bernie and what has made Trenchless Technology such a powerful force in the trenchless industry.

Trenchless Technology 2003 cover

This culture is much more than just being involved in the industry but one of supporting the industry and being on the cutting edge with new ideas and programs that advance the industry. A good example of this is when BAMI-I (Buried Asset Management Institute-International) was established while I was serving as a senior advisor to the Commissioner of the Department of Watershed Management (DWM) for the City of Atlanta. Trenchless Technology was on the cutting edge of this movement with BAMI-I and with developing the UIM (Underground Infrastructure Management, now titled Water Finance & Management). The inspiration for much of the progress was provided through the leadership of Mayor Shirley Franklin and DWM Commissioner Jack Ravan. In 2003, BAMI-I and Trenchless Technology teamed to provide a industry-sponsored reception at city hall in Atlanta to honor Franklin and DWM Commissioner Jack Ravan, presenting them with leadership achievement awards.

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The continuous support from Trenchless Technology was instrumental with BAMI-I being selected for an EPA grant program in 2005. This program was completed in 2008. From this, the first online course was launched in 2010 through the efforts of the magazine as the CTAM (Certification of Training in Asset Management). As a result of strong industry support, the CTAM program expanded to four online courses by 2015 through the collaborations with TTC. These courses have been developed by industry subject matter experts for the water utility industry with individuals from 16 countries registering for the courses. The CTAM program has been successful with much credit going to the continuous support and commitment from Trenchless Technology. In addition to the online CTAM course option, BAMI-I has provided four-day classroom instruction state environmental management agencies, municipalities and professional associations. In 2016, as a result of the water industry demand, BAMI-I established a certification board under the board of directors and developed a two-level certification program, AWAM (Associate Water Asset Manager) and PWAM (Professional Water Asset Manager).

RELATED: 25 Years Later: Trenchless Technology Magazine’s Impact on the Industry

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In summary, the leadership, support and commitment that Trenchless Technology provided in the early days of the formation of the trenchless industry and the development of asset management have continued to shape the underground infrastructure industry. The CEM (Construction Engineering and Management) program at Purdue University is now partnering with BAMI-I and Trenchless Technology to develop the next generation of water asset management training and support.

On March 7, 2022, the Governor signed the Indiana Senate Bill 272, which requires water utilities to have an approved AMP (Asset Management Plan) by July 2023 to quality for funding through the Indiana Finance Authority (IFA). The Bill also authorizes the establishment of water institute extension center to provide training and technical assistance to water utilities.

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As more states increase to incentive for water utilities to develop asset management programs, the efforts of Trenchless Technology will continue to be impactful.

Tom Iseley Ph.D., P.E., Dist. M. ASCE, PWAM, is a professor of engineering practice, construction engineering and management at Purdue University and a Beavers Heavy Construction Distinguished Fellow.

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