Bechtel supports U.K. students in Elon Musk’s ‘Not-A-Boring Tunneling Competition’

29 June 2021 LONDON

Warwick University students benefit from Bechtel support to design and build an innovative new tunnel boring machine

Bechtel is supporting Warwick University students to the tune of £10,000 to design and build a prototype of their innovative new tunnel boring machine (tbm) and compete in the final of a global challenge hosted by Elon Musk’s The Boring Company. The competition is intended to revolutionise tunnelling methods to build tunnels faster and cheaper. It is hoped that improved methods will help to advance smart and efficient infrastructure building and support technologies including Hyperloop and Loop for electric vehicles or pods.

"It's amazing to have Bechtel supporting us, not only financially but with mentoring from their team who deliver complex tunnels all over the world,” said Sanzhar Taizhan, Founder and Co-Project Lead of the Warwick Boring Team. “They have helped us consider how our design could perform in real-life conditions and reinforced that now is a very exciting time to be Boring.” 

The Warwick team consists of thirty science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students. They began working on the project last autumn and had to pass various stages to be down-selected from 400-entries and named as one of the twelve finalists. The team is the only U.K university who will travel to the final in Nevada later in the year to compete with students and hobbyists from around the world, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Technical University of Munich.


Design for the Boring Tunneling Competition.

The final will see the team use their prototype named Silk-Worm 1 to drill a 30-metre long and 50-centremetre wide tunnel as quickly and accurately as possible. To make the competition more exciting and stimulate the imagination of the participants, there are three winning categories. The categories include the fastest to complete the tunnel, the fastest to complete the tunnel and a driving surface through which a remote-controlled Tesla will drive, and the most accurate guidance system that keeps the tunnel on target. The team’s innovative solution is top secret until competition day when the event is likely to attract worldwide interest.

"There is no better investment than encouraging our next generation of engineers to challenge old ways of thinking and doing.” John Williams, Bechtel’s U.K & Ireland Managing Director. “The Warwick Boring Team is smart, innovative and driven. They aspire to make a positive impact on the world. We’re excited to see how they have approached this far-from-boring construction activity, and the impact the competition ideas could have on the future delivery of infrastructure projects.”


Members of the Boring Tunneling Competition student design team. 

Tunneling is an important component of infrastructure construction, including for transport, energy, water, and digital, and as cities become more congested and air pollution worsens, building more underground infrastructure can be a good solution. Tunnelling is a complex activity with many variables that must be considered and carefully managed, including geology, water levels, ground settlement, and navigating existing infrastructure.

Every year, Bechtel supports engineering college students with college donations in excess of US$180,000. In addition, the Bechtel Group Foundation gives US$2.45 million annually to pre-college students and the business supports STEM programmes globally through its stewardship programmes, including FIRST Robotics and FIRST LEGO League.  

You can support the Warwick Boring Team via their fundraising page.  

About Bechtel

Bechtel is a trusted engineering, construction and project management partner to industry and government. Differentiated by the quality of our people and our relentless drive to deliver the most successful outcomes, we align our capabilities to our customers’ objectives to create a lasting positive impact. Since 1898, we have helped customers complete more than 25,000 projects in 160 countries on all seven continents that have created jobs, grown economies, improved the resiliency of the world's infrastructure, increased access to energy, resources, and vital services, and made the world a safer, cleaner place.  

Bechtel serves the Energy; Infrastructure; Nuclear, Security & Environmental; and Mining & Metals markets. Our services span from initial planning and investment, through start-up and operations. www.bechtel.com

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