NASTT Celebrates 20th Anniversary

In 2010, the North American Society for Trenchless Technology (NASTT) celebrates its 20th anniversary. Founded in 1990, NASTT is composed of trenchless professionals who are concerned with underground systems and the applications of trenchless technology.

NASTT is a not-for-profit, educational and technical society that is dedicated to promoting the benefits of trenchless technology for public awareness through education and training. Twenty years later, the society has grown to more than 1,200 members, nine regional chapters and 11 student chapters throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Serving the second year of his two-year term as the NASTT chairperson, Chris Brahler is well qualified for the position. After graduating with a degree in business administration, he began his career in the cable installation equipment market.

An active participant in the development and growth of the underground construction industry for the more than 30 years, Brahler serves as president and CEO of TT Technologies, Aurora, IL. He founded the company in 1991 to serve the trenchless industry by manufacturing a wide range of trenchless tools and equipment, focusing on different underground construction applications such as boring systems, pipe ramming, horizontal directional drilling and pipebursting.

A strong proponent of trenchless technology through education, Brahler has spoken about trenchless technology and related applications to engineers, contractors, municipalities and construction industry groups throughout the United States and the world, including China, Mexico and Europe. He has been a featured presenter at conventions and conferences around the country including UCT, PCCA, DCA and NUCA. He has served on the No-Dig Trenchless Committee, DCA board of directors and the National Utility Contractors Association Trenchless Committee.

Anniversary events
The 20th anniversary of NASTT will culminate in a celebration at the 2010 No-Dig Show in Chicago (Schaumburg), May 2-7. “NASTT is planning an eventful and memorable No-Dig commemorating this very special occasion to include the presentation of the first-ever Michael E. Argent Memorial Scholarship and a new Trent Ralston Award,” said Brahler.

Up to five scholarships for $5,000 each will be awarded to students who are active members of a NASTT student chapter and fulfill other eligibility requirements. “Michael (Argent) was one of our founding members, and it is hoped that his contributions to our industry will continue to inspire young trenchless professionals through this newly established scholarship program,” added Brahler.

In honor of the late Trent Ralston, who was a member of NASTT and an industry veteran, the new Trent Ralston Award for Young Trenchless Achievement will recognize a professional who has shown commitment to the trenchless industry through volunteerism, leadership and career accomplishments.

In addition to the scholarships, NASTT’s 20-year history will be on display at the 2010 No-Dig. “Kaleel Rahaim is heading up an eager team of 20th anniversary committee members with the task of chronicling NASTT’s history, collecting interesting anecdotes and photographs that tell the story of our organization,” said Brahler.

Reflecting on his first year as NASTT chairperson, Brahler said the organization remains strong in a tough economy and even shows signs of growth. In August 2009, several industry representatives gathered in Denver to discuss the possibility of a new NASTT regional chapter covering the states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. This meeting resulted in the formation of the Rocky Mountain Chapter – the first chapter to form since 2004.

The addition of the Rocky Mountain Chapter expands NASTT’s presence into nine regional areas throughout North America: British Columbia; Great Lakes, St. Lawrence and Atlantic; Mid Atlantic; Midwest; Northwest; Pacific Northwest; Southwest; and Western.

NASTT continues to support the trenchless industry by offering Good Practice courses for continuing education, which includes cured-in-place pipe (CIPP), horizontal directional drilling (HDD), pipe bursting, lateral lining, new installation methods and an overview of trenchless technologies.

“More municipalities are turning to NASTT as their source for education,” said Brahler. “The new economic environment means there are less travel expenses for municipal personnel, so our trainers are meeting their needs by conducting in-house classes. The key benefit for the municipal employees who need this information is that they have the benefit of well-trained instructors and education materials. NASTT relies on a network of trenchless experts in the industry or on the Student Chapters to assist with teaching. Our trainers go through a rigorous training course. They attend several classes to learn how to present these courses, and then go through a peer review to see if they can cut the grade to be an instructor.”

In his role as both chairperson and international representative for NASTT, Brahler attended the International Society for Trenchless Technology (ISTT) held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, last spring. NASTT and ISTT again joined forces to present the event.

“The ISTT conference is for sharing and exchanging information beyond the borders of the United States,” explained Brahler. “Infrastructure is much older in Europe and the U.S. looks to these countries for ideas because they’ve already encountered many of the problems that we’re just now facing in North America, and they are doing it successfully.”

On the domestic front, NASTT will focus on “Rebuilding North America’s Underground Infrastructure Using Trenchless Technology” during its 20th Anniversary No-Dig Show in Chicago. Mark Hallett is the 2010 program chairperson. “I’m always amazed by how many people in the industry are willing to volunteer their time to make this show a success,” Brahler pointed out.

Looking ahead

NASTT is busy developing and supporting initiatives that place trenchless technology at the forefront of the construction industry. Brahler said, “We are not only reflecting back on what NASTT has done the past 20 years, but are actively looking at how we can help the industry grow going forward. NASTT is leading the way in developing and promoting initiatives that will help sell the “green” aspect of trenchless to customers, clients and communities.”

Cities and municipalities across North America are now considering carbon loading as an integral element to their construction projects and NASTT is poised to assist them.

Brahler explains that the NASTT carbon calculator program, developed by the NASTT British Columbia Chapter, allows users to estimate the reduction of CO2 emissions when trenchless is used versus open-cut methods. This new software program is developed to accept construction parameters and calculate the carbon loading of the job.

Looking back on the past year, Brahler said, “I’m thankful that there are so many people willing to devote so many hours to spread the cause of trenchless. I continue to be amazed and awed by their devotion to this industry.”

Among those who volunteer their time are the elected officials. The new members on 2010 board of directors include Jennifer Glynn, Cindy Preuss, P.E. and Kim Staheli, PhD, P.E.

Glynn is a project manager for RMC Water and Environment in its Walnut Creek, CA, office. Glynn has been a member of the No-Dig Program Committee for seven years and is one of the founding members of Western Chapter of NASTT (WESTT). She currently serves as Chair of WESTT and is a volunteer Pipe Bursting Good Practices Course instructor. Glynn is also a member of the AWWA Water Pipeline Rehabilitation Committee and a past vice president of the Northern California Pipe User’s Group (PUG).

Preuss is a licensed professional civil engineer in the California and an associate and project manager with Harris & Associates located in Concord. In her 10 years with Harris & Associates, Preuss’s engineering expertise includes designing new and rehabilitated pipeline systems and other infrastructure facilities. Preuss is currently serving her sixth year of service on the board of directors for PUG.

Staheli is the president of Trenchless Consultants in Seattle. She is a Registered Professional Engineer in Washington, Oregon and California. Staheli has served as chair of the Northwest Chapter of NASTT and has been instrumental in the development of the Pacific Northwest Chapter. She also serves on the No-Dig Program Committee.

Outgoing board members Keith Hanks, Mark Knight and Jack Burnam will be formally recognized for their service to NASTT during the 2010 No-Dig Show in Schaumberg.

Brahler is quick to note that without the support of the NASTT staff, he would be even busier trying to balance his full time job at TT Technologies with his commitment to NASTT. “It’s a big job that demands a lot of time, but until you get involved at this level, you don’t realize how much the staff does to keep this organization running,” Brahler commented.

The NASTT staff includes Michael Willmets and Angela Ghosh.

Willmets joined NASTT as its new executive director in January 2008. He has held numerous volunteer and leadership positions within the organization, including the elected chairman of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence and Atlantic regional chapter. He served on the NASTT board of directors for the past three years. Willmets volunteered his time as a member of the No-Dig Program Committee and has served as instructor of NASTT’s Rehabilitation Short Course presented at past No-Dig’s. Willmets has over 35 years experience in infrastructure management. He recently retired from the city of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada, where he worked as project manager. Throughout his career, Willmets has received a number of awards including an Award of Merit for Canadian Engineering Excellence, as well as the No-Dig Outstanding Paper Award in Rehabilitation in 2002.

Before joining NASTT as its assistant executive director in 2005, Ghosh was the conference manager for Benjamin Media Inc. Since joining NASTT, her notable achievements include: managing the Society’s training activities to include planning, budgeting, marketing, and effectuating the successful delivery of 20+ training courses per year resulting in increased memberships in the Society and a substantial increase in training revenues. Ghosh is also responsible for the development and execution of the Society’s marketing plan, which included the complete re-design of the web site making many major improvements in content, design and navigation.

NASTT, (703) 351-5252;

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