Alfredo Vasquez received a scholarship from the ITACET Foundation to follow the 2016-2017 edition of the Specialized Master's in Tunnelling and Underground Sructures, run by the ENTPE / INSA in Lyon France.
Following his successful graduation, he talks about how the Foundation helped him start his career.
"Tunnelling has been a part of our lives for more than 100 years. We have long come to realize that the surface will one day become congested and that the best way to connect two points beneath the ground is by a tunnel.
Tunnels bring us closer, reducing travel time, and this is one reason why everybody loves tunnels. Traditionally, tunnelling has been the specific domain of geologists, miners and civil engineers whose primary means of acquiring knowledge in this field was by working on specific tunnelling projects, as there were few courses or universities around the world that proposed a specific Master's course.
In 2010, with great insight, the INSA Lyon, ENTPE, CETU and AFTES, decided to offer a specific post-graduate Master's degree in Tunnelling and Underground Structures. This specialized Master's degree is proposed to students that already have a Master’s degree and who want to gain specific knowledge in tunnelling.
This degree is a great solution for engineers who want to discover this highly interesting field. The course is a great mix between sound theoretical knowledge and practical work. During this Master’s course, students have the opportunity to visit many underground projects (metro projects, hydropower projects, underground car parks, a nuclear laboratory and a TBM factory). The knowledge acquired throughout the course is applied in two real life projects and is completed by a professional thesis developed over 5 months of internship in a specialised company. I had the incredible opportunity to do my internship at Arcadis Lyon, studying long-term effects in tunnel linings, and worked on many other projects such as wall design and tunnel modelling using finite elements.
Since the creation of this specialized Master's course, the ITACET Foundation has proposed scholarships to numerous students from developing countries. My name is Alfredo Vazquez and I come from Ecuador. Without the support of the ITACET Foundation It would have been impossible for me to participate in this course.
Since this great experience, I have been working to establish an Ecuadorian tunnelling association, to promote the construction of underground structures and to share all the knowledge I have acquired with engineers and students in my country. Ecuador is the perfect country in which to dig tunnels; primarily because it is a safe way to connect the country that is crossed by the Andes Mountains and also because there is considerable hydropower potential.
For this purpose, I am establishing some iconic tunnel projects that will show Ecuadorians what the country can be like in the future, how tunnels can be a part of Ecuador’s development, and how they can change the economic development of the country.
One of my goals is to promote a South American magazine that could be distributed by all the Spanish-speaking associations, allowing us to share the knowledge obtained by every country involved in underground projects.
Tunnelling has a low impact on the environment and along with the development of new technologies, tunnelling can be cheaper and safer. Nowadays, tunnelling has fewer limitations and is being considered as a solution to various issues, not just for transportation.
I highly recommend the specialized Master's programme on Tunnelling and Underground Structures proposed by INSA Lyon and ENTPE, which has proved to be a great way to enter and discover this fascinating branch of engineering.
Finally, I would like to thank the ITACET Foundation and hope they continue with the great job that they are doing. Without their support it wouldn’t be possible for many students to enrol on this type of Master's course. I strongly believe that all the work they are doing, will help to develop the tunnelling culture throughout the world".
The ITACET Foundation wishes to thank Alfredo for this testimonial and wishes him a successful career!