With experiences like being a BTSYM member since 2015 and a committee member for 2020-21 when he was responsible for personal development, George Doulkas, package manager for HS2 at Strabag, has been appointed chair of the British Tunnelling Society Young Members (BTSYM).
The past-chair Alasdair Fraser; secretary Thomas Macgowan; Benjamin Lafarga (professional development); Sandeep Nirmal (schools and universities); Aya Hasan (media and social); as well as Arabel Vilas Serín, British Geotechnical Association early career group liaison, are the members of BTSYM sub-committee for 2022/23.
Following the disruption of Covid, Doulkas and the sub-committee are eager to engage with young tunnellers throughout the UK.
According to Doulkas: “During the last couple of years we had workshops and lectures online so we missed a lot of outreach.”
Doulkas’s emphasis is on the benefit of meeting in person, despite that all the coming year’s events are due to be hybrid.
“We believe there’s value in in-person events; sharing knowledge is one thing but networking is also important, especially for younger people and it is important to develop robust professional relationships early on. We are members of a very niche industry and relationships are important for professional collaboration as they contribute to successful communication on projects,” he said.
Considering that the BTSYM’s purpose is to share experience and knowledge with young tunnellers around the UK, the number of large projects recently completed, under way or planned in the UK provided a wealth of opportunity for learning, as Doulkas claimes.
He asserted: “There’s a lot going on with HS2, Silvertown, Cloire Glas, HARP, Stonehenge, the Lower Thames Crossing, and lessons learnt from Crossrail, Thames Tideway and Bank Station.”
Additionally, in order to attracting young people into tunneling as a priority, BTSYM is slated to be strengthening its links with schools and universities.
Having some events scheduled, the sub-committee is planning for the year ahead. The determined date for Christmas social is 8 December, while the first workshop, at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) in London, is on 13 December and the first lecture on January 9. Meanwhile joint lectures with universities, including Leeds and Cambridge, and site visits are also planned.
All events will be hybrid. Lectures will be live streamed on You Tube and workshops will be uploaded.