Ian Walczak of Rutgers University, Student Scholarship Winner Essay

June 2, 2020 by NASTT Staff


This week we’re featuring the fifth and final installment in the latest NASTT blog series featuring the 2020 Argent Memorial Scholarship winner essays.

One of the requirements to apply for a student scholarship from NASTT is to write an essay on the state of the trenchless industry and what the student sees for them self in the future within the industry.

Ian Walczak of Rutgers University was awarded a $5,000 scholarship. 

The North American Society for Trenchless Technology was introduced to me last year by the Rutgers Student Chapter. Before that I had never given tunneling and trenchless construction any thought. Now I am the President of the Rutgers Student chapter. Through my time in NASTT I attended the No-Dig show in Chicago and learnt about all the different applications the trenchless industry is capable of.

One specialty area that interests me most is tunnel engineering. I live close to New York City so trench cutting to replace utilities or build tunnels is a thing of the past. From now on most of the work done underground is in the trenchless industry. Last year I got the opportunity to go to The Moles Students Day at the East Side Access project in NYC. This was the first time I had seen a massive trenchless project firsthand. The logistical challenges and the innovative solutions the engineers needed to come up with required not only a sound understanding of engineering fundamentals, but also a creative mind. This kind of challenging work is why I decided to become an engineer. Deciding to become an engineer is more than just deciding on what career to pursue, it is more like deciding the kind of lifestyle you want to live throughout life. Life as an engineer means lifelong learning, serving your community and never halting innovation. These main aspects of life as an engineer are what intrigue me most and I believe the most rewarding industry is the trenchless industry.

Within the near future I do see myself pursuing a career in the trenchless industry. I am currently talking to Mott MacDonald about an entry tunnel engineering job. I am to start an internship next semester and that will work into a full-time position as a tunnel engineer at Mott MacDonald. My goal is to hopefully be a critical part of the planned Gateway Project in the Northeast Corridor. The project will expand and renovate the existing deteriorating Northeast Corridor Rail Line. Within this project major tunneling operations will be conducted and it is my hope that I will be involved in the design and construction of these tunnels.

In conclusion, The North American Society for Trenchless Technology has given me opportunities that I never could imagine. There is a great sense of community within NASTT and I am proud to be apart of it. Community is very important to me; when we collaborate with one another there is nothing we can not accomplish. I hope to hear from you soon and I thank you in advance for your anticipated generosity. I will leave you with a quote, “An optimist will tell you the glass is half-full; the pessimist, half-empty; and the engineer will tell you the glass is twice the size it needs to be” – Anonymous

Congratulations Ian! Best of luck in your current position and future endeavors in the trenchless industry!