Students are often told that getting a university degree can help them move mountains, but how many graduates actually get to say they did? Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate, Andrew Robinson, is one of them.
Technically speaking, Andrew didn’t move an entire mountain, but he did help to move an enormous chunk of one. Working as a Project Manager/Structural Engineer, EIT (Engineer in Training) for Emmert International in his first professional position since graduating from PSU in June 2011, Andrew and the Emmert team successfully completed the move of a 340 ton granite boulder from the quarry in Riverside County, California, where the rock originated to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Moving at a top speed of 5 mph, the rock was transported 105 miles across 4 counties and 22 cities, including the center of Los Angeles!
The granite boulder forms part of a permanent installation at the LACMA by the artist Michael Heizer. The installation, Levitated Mass, features the boulder suspended over a 456-foot-long slot in the earth that viewers will be able to walk through.
As can be imagined, it was no small feat moving the massive boulder. Heizer originally thought of Levitated Mass in 1968 but didn’t discover what he considered to be the “right” boulder until about 6 years ago. It then took years of planning and fundraising to accomplish the move. By the time Andrew came on board in November 2011, the move date had already been missed several times.
As a Project Manager/Structural Engineer, EIT, on the project, Andrew had the important responsibility of liaising with local authorities in preparation for the move. Emmert had to obtain transportation and encroachment permits from each of the 22 cities the rock was transported through. Not surprisingly, local authorities had concerns about a 340 ton rock on a 27-foot wide transport nearly the length of a football field passing through their community. To obtain the permits, it was necessary to perform extensive engineering on such things as pavement analysis, working closely with city engineers. Andrew credits his Maseeh College student experience working in the infraStructure Testing and Applied Research (iSTAR) lab of Peter Dusicka, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, for preparing him to work with city engineers and enabling him to explain the transport process.
Working between 10:00pm and 5:00am, the move took place in late February and early March over the course of 11 nights. Andrew was present during the entire move, during which he served as Emmert’s direct contact with all the utility companies involved.
The move constituted an amazing feat of logistics and coordination. For example, it was necessary to turn or remove 90% of the traffic signals along the route, which turned out to be 280 signals! In fact, Emmert is nominating the project to its national rigging and transport competition as the most complex move of the year. Rumor also has it this move may actually be included in the next Guinness Book of World Records for its complexity and size.
Accustomed now to working and thinking big, Andrew has accepted a new job for the construction and engineering firm CH2M HILL as a Construction Coordinator. In his new position, Andrew is coordinating the installation of utilities to allow the placement of manufacturing tools at the new multibillion dollar Intel research site under construction in Hillsboro. These are no ordinary tools, however; these tools cost between 2 and 150 million dollars and will be used to create the microprocessors and wafers Intel is famous for. An excellent continuation in the already remarkable career of a recent Maseeh College graduate!