John Paul Ramirez Santa was awarded an ITACET Foundation scholarship for the year 2017-2018. Now at the end of the academic year, he looks back and reflects on the MSc course at Warwick University:
I have had a very rewarding year studying and learning at the University of Warwick in the MSc course in Tunnelling and Underground Space. I can say that the course has exceeded my expectations, since it has not only taught me the art and the science behind tunnel construction. It has also shown me the values and judgement that should guide a tunnel engineer when approaching the challenges that a tunnel project poses to his team - values such as collaboration, teamwork commitment, effective communication, responsibility, creativity, accountability, and a good ear to listen to teammates and nature’s response to our underground excavations.
Among all the worthwhile experiences I had during the course, the best was the final group project. It was a unique opportunity to put into practice what had been learnt throughout the course, like tunnel design, construction planning, seismic design, etc. The serious commitment of our team enabled a successful result, demonstrating that an underground metro for the City of Kathmandu is feasible. It was a challenging design project, especially because of the seismic design it required. The design results from this project will help shape the final design of the Kathmandu Metro.
Other strengths of the course were the highly experienced and competent lecturers that shared their tunnel know-how with us students; experiences and knowledge that will rarely be found in textbooks. The international background of the class (students from Europe, Asia, and America), provided a very rich experience to the development of the lectures. International students would often share their previous experiences about a tunnel case that integrated well into the lectures.
After this edifying opportunity, I look forward to returning to Colombia, which is becoming a scene of important underground projects. There I would like to work with the future ‘El Toyo’ Tunnel, which will be the longest road tunnel in the country. Colombia has the potential and the need for building tunnels like the Gotthard base tunnel, and its tunnelling industry needs not only competent tunnel engineers, but also competent tunnel construction planning.
For the new generations of civil engineers interested in contributing to the development of the tunnel industry, I would highly recommend checking out the MSc in Tunnelling and Underground Space course at the University of Warwick.
I am very grateful to the ITACET Foundation for their work in supporting young engineers interested in tunnelling and underground infrastructure in pursuing the ITA-AITES endorsed master’s courses. Their support has opened a promising horizon for my tunnelling career.