April 2016, Vol. 71 No. 4


Trenchless Technology Center Director, Dr. Tom Iseley, Center Named Industry 2016 MVP

At the recent Underground Construction Technology International Conference & Exhibition held in Atlanta, Trenchless Technology Center director, Tom Iseley, Ph.D, P.E., was honored by the Underground Construction Technology Association (UCTA) and Underground Construction magazine as the industry’s Most Valuable Professional for 2016.

Dr. Iseley is CETF professor of civil engineering is chairman of the Buried Asset Management Institute-International, Inc.

Iseley has served the industry more than 40 years at multiple levels, including practitioner, researcher and educator, making a lasting impact on trenchless utility construction. Throughout this time, he has been a respected and forceful voice promoting the significant benefits of trenchless technologies.

UCT 2016 MVP luncheon
A packed-house crowd gathered to show support for Dr. Iseley.

In a relaxed and informative acceptance speech, Iseley reflected on his career in a large meeting room filled with guests, including a delegation of his students from Louisiana Tech.

“I’m often asked how I got involved in all this,” he said. “The answer is I was born into it – my father and grandfather both were water and sewer contractors. As a chiId, I would listen to them sitting around the table at home, planning a project, discussing how to build it. When I was 12-years-old, I was helping build brick manholes.”

This early exposure and involve-ment in underground infrastructure construction and rehabilitation continues to the present.

Career change

With experience owning and operating his own contracting company, Iseley committed to becoming an engineer and earned a B.S. degree in civil engineering and MBA from the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

UCT 2016 MVP Dr. Tom Iseley
Representatives from the two organizations sponsoring the MVP Award (UCTA and Underground Construction magazine) congratulate Dr. Iseley. Pictured, left to right, are: Mike Garver and David Ellett of BRH-Garver; Iseley; Robert Carpenter of Underground Construction; and Tim Peterie, Insituform.

“I served as an assistant professor at Mississippi State for a while, and I always kept a little construction company going. I’d been in school a long time and really wasn’t considering pursing a doctorate,” Iseley said.

However, he changed his mind and earned a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Purdue University.

Iseley arrived on the Louisiana Tech campus in 1988. Even with his full teaching course load, he was becoming aware of emerging trenchless methods. Iseley recognized the unrealized potential and decided that he wanted to help develop the industry.

A year later, the the Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) was established.

It wasn’t easy, Iseley said, and voiced his appreciation for the support he received from many members of the industry. In particular, he singled out Mike Garver (who a few minutes before had introduced him at the awards luncheon), for making a significant contribution of funds and strong support to get the center started. Garver is founder of BRH Garver Construction.

Under Iseley’s leadership and through the support of key industry leaders and organizations, the TTC became a focal point of education and research for the growing trench-less industry. In 1993, the TTC received a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to evaluate and develop technologies for microtunneling, horizontal directional drilling and CIPP (cured-in-place pipe).

After leaving the TTC, Iseley rejoined the private sector working to introduce new technologies to the market. He returned to academics when he joined the Construction Engineering Management Technology (CEMT) program at the University of Indiana/Purdue University at Indianapolis. In that capacity, he established CEMT’s undergraduate and graduate programs recognizing current industry trends and involving students in professional internships.

Back to academics

Iseley returned to the TTC in 2014 resuming the directorship of the center that he established 26 years before. At the time, Dr. Iseley noted that since the establishment of the Trenchless Technology Center in 1989, trenchless technology and the underground utilities infrastructure industry have grown exponentially, with many advancements not only being made in the trenchless industry and within the center.

Dr. Tom Iseley, TTC Director and students
Iseley is surrounded by TTC staff and students attending UCT 2016

Throughout his career, Iseley’s activities on behalf of the trenchless industry never have been restricted to his “day” job. Active in numerous industry organizations and events, he has tirelessly traveled throughout the U.S. and overseas, conducting training, presenting papers and basically doing whatever he could to promote the trenchless industry.

“The industry is dynamic and expanding rapidly,” he said. “Therefore, the rising challenges posed by our underground infra-structure industry must be met by the trenchless industry. The vision for the Trenchless Technology Center must continue to be dynamic and expand into a more comprehen-sive role.”

Bringing his award acceptance speech to a close, Iseley went back to the days of his grandfather and father.

“I know,” he concluded, “that they would be amazed at how far the industry has come and the new developments and technologies being used today to install and maintain underground infrastructure.”

For more information:
UCT, uctonline.com
Trenchless Technology Center, ttc.latech.edu
UCTA, uctaonline.org

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