The University of Tennessee, Knoxville


TTAP Newsletter: RoadTalk

From the Director

by Dave Clarke, P.E.

Hello, everyone! I hope your summer is going well. As I write this, I hear Tennessee is having an unusually cool spell. The view from my window is of downtown Beijing, China, where Iím spending several weeks teaching at an international summer school. While it may be cool in Tennessee, Beijing is one hot place in July!

The school is on the campus of Beijing Jiaotong University, one of China's premier transportation universities. On this toasty summer evening, the campus streets are filled with students doing a surveying lab assignment.

Each team has a total station, prism, and field table, and I can see a dozen or more groups busily engaged. A couple of unusual things stand out. First, itís a summer Saturday. Second, it's nearly 7:00 pm, and the activity is still going strong. That says a lot about the work ethic of these young people. In fact, my class met today for 5-1/2 hours, starting at 8:00 am, and was nearly full. These people take education seriously. We ignore that at our peril.

Summer surveying camp had been discontinued before my time in the university, now many years ago. I don't believe surveying is even offered as a separate class in today's curriculum. That always surprises me, considering how fundamentally important it is to the civil engineering and construction professions. Apparently, they still believe this in China.

A visitor to China is immediately struck by both the large scale of its major cities and the tremendous pace of development around them. It has to be a great time to be a construction contractor here. The pace of development no doubt burdens existing public worksóroads, stormwater systems, water treatment systems. During a previous visit, I saw a heavy summer rainstorm overwhelm the stormwater system. Everywhere around you see road and street repairs underway, with the predictable effect on traffic flow. China's large cities are old by U.S. standards, and their infrastructure is a mix of ancient and modern. Public works officials here, like their American counterparts, have a 'can do" attitude. Things seem to get done, and that's what counts.

While China is an interesting place to visit, and I highly recommend a trip there, I'm certainly looking forward to coming home to Tennessee, my favorite part of the good ole U.S. of A. I'm starting to get excited about football time! As always, TTAP is here to help. Please give us a call. We look forward to working with you.

P.S. It's Sunday afternoon, and the kids are out again in full force with their surveying equipment. Incredible!

Thatís it for now. As always, if we can help, please donít hesitate to call or email. TTAP looks forward to assisting you. Be safe!