January 2016 Vol. 71 No. 1


New Year, Big Changes For UCTA

By Chantel Green, Associate Editor

UCTA Training, Education

From its inception in May 1992, the Underground Construction Technology Association (UCTA) has been committed to educating and training its members on the use of traditional, trenchless and rehabilitation technologies, and promoting the use and application of these technologies along with addressing important trends and needs of the underground infrastructure industry. Now entering its twenty-fourth year of operation, the non-profit organization has grown from the original 12 members to nearly 60 corporate sponsors and hundreds of individuals.

UCTA’s mission is to advance underground technology, both open-cut and trenchless, and to promote their benefits for the public and the natural environment by increasing awareness and knowledge through technical information dissemination, research and development, and education and training. The association fulfills these objectives by providing a forum for members to share information, to learn about these developments in its regular meetings and activities, and through the support of specific external programs.


UCTA, originally formed under the name Gulf Coast Trenchless Association, was a result of the Greater Houston Wastewater Program when utility contractors needed a forum to collaborate on means and methods as well as the latest technology for trenchless installation for sanitary sewer lines.

The association has grown to include not only contractors but engineers, municipal employees, manufacturers and academia who are committed to promoting better and more responsible ways to manage the underground infrastructure.
More changes came in April 2009 when the membership approved changing the association’s name. Association officials say this name change was a strategic decision to broaden the scope and services of the trade association into all aspects of underground construction, generating additional support from the national level.

With the new name came a renewed drive to fulfill the role of the organization by facilitating local chapters in other metropolitan areas to service the needs of the underground construction community.

In 2010, the association welcomed its first regional chartered chapter, North Texas, serving the cities and surrounding areas of Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Irving and Garland, TX. In 2014, further growth was realized with the formation of the South Texas Chapter, covering the region from Austin through San Antonio and Laredo, TX. The Gulf Coast Chapter serves the greater southeast Texas region including Houston, Beaumont, Conroe, Galveston and The Woodlands, TX.

A year of continued growth

In 2015, the continued growth of the chapter called for a new management company, Integra Solutions. Both David Ellett, Gulf Coast Chapter president, and Tim Peterie, North Texas Chapter president, noted this as accomplishing a major goal for the organization. The introduction of Integra will assist in streamlining the associations’ processes, allowing an simpler avenue to membership, luncheon registration and keeping current with the organization’s event calendar.
In 2014, UCTA welcomed the addition of the South Texas Chapter and the chapter saw tremendous success in 2015. President Jeff Haby commented that the chapter is “lightyears ahead of where I imagined.”

“I am most proud of our introduction of the Technology Transfer meetings,” Haby added.

The South Texas Chapter decided to shake things up with a new meeting style – a quarterly technology transfer in which multiple speakers and vendors present to the membership – rather than the traditional luncheon meetings typically held every second month.

“The value of this organization is really in bringing our industry together to solve community problems. We are able to do that through the transfer of knowledge within our Technology Transfer,” Haby said.

Haby commented the importance of bringing younger staff members to the meetings, because they gain knowledge from industry experts, while the more seasoned professionals are able to learn from the younger generations in absorbing the information on new technology.

Haby’s excitement about the industry and the association certainly shows and has transferred into phenomenal growth. The chapter’s 2015 clay shoot was a tremendous success drawing over $16,000 in profit, for which Haby praised the hard work of Andy Dettmer. The success allowed the chapter to provide educational scholarships, thus achieving the main goal of the association since the beginning.

“I want to do more to support educational efforts, and I think that’s where we can continue to improve in 2016,” Haby said.
Haby noted the region’s interest as a main contributing factor, but also realized the potential for further success through the growth in the electric utilities, fiber optic and oil and gas sectors.

“[The South Texas Chapter] is located in an area that is a hot bed of activity. There is a lot of interest in the consent decree and the Visa Ridge project, and that translates to industry interest,” Haby said.

As a new chapter, Haby has seen the importance of UCTA expansion. When questioned about the benefits of adding new chapters in the future, he is quick to point out some of the regions the association may not be reaching as is, and said the expansion of UCTA into more regions could bring nothing but success to the association as a whole.

Member benefits

The opportunities available to UCTA members and their company are many, from the association’s educational programs to training and networking with peers.

The Underground Construction Technology (UCT) International Conference & Exhibition is held annually in late January or early February. UCTA members help develop educational sessions and workshops for the conference and organize networking and recognition events at the conference;

The Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award is presented jointly by the UCTA and Underground Construction magazine at a special luncheon ceremony held during UCT. The award recognizes a person who makes a significant, positive difference to their business or organization in the underground industry;

Golf tournaments sponsored by each chapter fund scholarship support to the children and spouses of active UCTA members for a full-time course of study. In 2014, the Gulf Coast and North Texas chapters awarded 10 scholarships totaling $10,000 to deserving students;

The UCTA annually donates funds to the Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) at Louisiana Tech University, gaining a seat on the TTC’s Industrial Advisory Board. Funds also are donated annually to the Center for Innovative Grouting Materials and Technology (CIGMAT) at the University of Houston, and the Center for Underground Infrastructure Research and Education (CUIRE) at the University of Texas at Arlington;

Clay Shoot proceeds benefit the TTC, CIGMAT and CUIRE – this year, the North Texas chapter drew $16,000 in profit during its clay shoot; and

Members who attend the general luncheon meetings are eligible for one credit Professional Development Hour (PDH) for continuing education credits.

Peterie adds that while the benefits can differ between municipal, contracting and consulting members, but the exposure benefits span across all membership.

“There is so much exposure to technologies and people within the industry. Our focus on education and our education efforts provides a great venue for engineers, consultants, contractors and municipal employees to network,” said Peterie.

Moving forward

As UCTA continues to grow and take on new challenges, the association plans to continue its commitment to serve and support its diverse industry partners.

Ellett said each UCTA chapter will continue to expand their membership with the ultimate goal of continuing to provide and expand educational opportunities for its members. Peterie agrees that the goal of expansion will only add more value to
the association.

Underground Construction Technology Association
(512) 251-8101, uctaonline.org

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