Trenchless Technology names 2023 Person of the Year

Trenchless Technology magazine is pleased to announce the recipient of its 2023 Trenchless Technology Person of the Year award: Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) Director John Matthews, Ph.D.

Matthews has cultivated a widely-respected leadership role in the trenchless industry as an educator and engineer through his significant contributions to the industry with industry-elevating research, as well as mentoring the next generation of trenchless professionals in and out of the classroom.

The Trenchless Technology Person of the Year award – established in 1993 – is considered the most prestigious trenchless industry award.

“John Matthews has dedicated his career to helping guide the next generation of trenchless professionals, leading innovative and important research and bringing trenchless technology educational opportunities to system owners and contractors, all via his work with the Trenchless Technology Center at Louisiana Tech University,” says Trenchless Technology managing editor Mike Kezdi, who coordinates the Trenchless Technology Person of the Year selection process. “Additionally, he is an enthusiastic advocate for the trenchless industry across many platforms and associations, both in North America and internationally. He does all of this in an approachable, unassuming manner and a heartfelt desire to better the trenchless and underground infrastructure construction industry. I speak for the entire Trenchless Technology team when I say, congratulations, John, on your selection as the 2023 Trenchless Technology Person of the Year.”

When notified of his Person of the Year selection, Matthews was appreciative of the recognition of his work done through the TTC. “I was surprised and humbled to hear the news of this award,” Matthews says, adding that his selection “shows that the work we do at the TTC has broad industry relevance and it is really an acknowledgment of the great team and partners we have at the TTC.”

Matthews has more than 18 years of experience in rehabilitation and inspection of infrastructure systems. In addition to his service as director of the Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) and Professor of civil engineering and construction engineering technology at Louisiana Tech University, he has worked on various research projects relating to water and wastewater rehabilitation and condition assessment for various technology vendors, research organizations and industry associations including: EPA, TRB, WaterRF, WERF, NASSCO, and NASTT.

Matthews’s tenure and relationship with TTC dates back to his undergraduate years at Louisiana Tech, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in construction engineering (2004), his master’s degree in civil engineering (2006) and his Ph.D. in civil engineering (2010) – which all had a trenchless technology focus. During those years, Matthews worked as a graduate assistant and a post-doctoral research associate at TTC.

He joined the private sector in 2010, serving as the principal research scientist at Battelle and later as a program manager at Pure Technologies. He returned to Louisiana Tech University in 2017 as a professor, as well as director of the Trenchless Technology Center, mentoring the next generation of trenchless professionals.

Beyond his extensive conference presentations and authorship of articles in academic and practical journals, as well as industry-related publications, Matthews has served on the Board of Directors for the North American Society for Trenchless Technology (NASTT), the International Society for Trenchless Technology (ISTT) and is on the Trenchless Technology Advisory Board.  He is active in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and American Water Works Association (AWWA).

Matthews has been at the forefront of the CIPP styrene emissions issue over the past five years, with his work was recently recognized at the International No-Dig Conference in Finland. Specifically, this work for NASSCO has led to multiple recommendations for safer work practices related to steam curing CIPP while also addressing fears that the problem was not as bad as some had suggested. These recommendations have been incorporated into NASSCO Best Practices and have made their way into specifications across North America.

In addition to his professional accomplishments touched on above, Matthews made significant contributions to the industry through his applied research starting very early in his career. His academic accomplishments have been recognized by Louisiana Tech University and as a result he has become the youngest full professor in the College of Engineering and Science. He also holds an Eminent Scholar Chair in Construction and is the youngest of the select few Chairs at Louisiana Tech.

Matthews will be formally recognized for this honor Monday, May 1, at NASTT’s 2023 No-Dig Show Kick-Off Breakfast at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.

The Trenchless Technology Person of the Year has been awarded annually since 1993 to individuals representing significant recent achievement and lifetime achievement, and who have exhibited outstanding leadership in the advancement of trenchless technology. It is determined by a selection committee comprised of industry professionals.

To learn more about past recipients and to nominate a trenchless professional for the award, visit trenchlesstechnology.com/2024-trenchless-technology-person-of-the-year-nominations.

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