BTSYM gears up for year ahead

30 November 2022

George Doulkas, package manager for HS2 at Strabag, has been appointed chair of the British Tunnelling Society Young Members (BTSYM).

He has been a BTSYM member since 2015 and a committee member for 2020-21 when he was responsible for personal development.

The BTSYM sub-committee for 2022/23 comprises past-chair Alasdair Fraser; secretary Thomas Macgowan; Benjamin Lafarga (professional development); Sandeep Nirmal (schools and universities); Aya Hasan (media and social); and Arabel Vilas Serín, British Geotechnical Association early career group liaison.

After the disruption of Covid, Doulkas and the sub-committee are keen to engage with young tunnellers throughout the UK.

“During the last couple of years we had workshops and lectures online so we missed a lot of outreach,” said Doulkas.

While all the coming year’s events will be hybrid, Doulkas emphasises the benefit of meeting in person.

“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.

The BTSYM’s aim is to share experience and knowledge with young tunnellers around the UK and Doulkas said the number of large projects recently completed, under way or planned in the UK provided a wealth of opportunity for learning.

“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,” he said.

Attracting young people into tunnelling will also be a priority so BTSYM will be strengthening its links with schools and universities.

The sub-committee already has events scheduled and is planning for the year ahead. The Christmas social is on December 8; the first workshop, at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) in London, on December 13; and the first lecture on January 9. 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.