Stevens Alumni Lead Engineering Deans in Insider’s Tour of World Trade Center Site

4/18/2013

When the World Trade Center site opens for business on the hallowed ground where the Twin Towers once stood, it will be a true testament to America’s spirit and resiliency. It will also be an incredible triumph of engineering – perhaps unmatched by any single construction project in history.

On April 17, Stevens alumni Tom O’Connor ’80 and Jason Tirri ’00 – both integral members of the 3,500-person team working rebuild and memorialize the World Trade Center site – led a once-in-a-lifetime tour of the site’s major projects for a group of 20 engineering deans from major national universities.

The event was part of the Engineering Deans Institute (EDI), an annual event organized by the nonprofit American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) to unite engineering deans in dialogue with industry and government leaders about the crucial factors facing their schools, colleges and profession. 

The World Trade Center tour, which culminated the three-day event in New York City, introduced the deans to the innovative engineering solutions and demanding safety standards that are being incorporated into the design of the colossal and historic reconstruction.

"The attendees were able to learn about the technical and project management challenges associated with this extraordinarily complex project," said Dr. Michael Bruno, Dean of the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science at Stevens and a member of the 2013 EDI Planning Committee.

The tour included an up-close look at the site’s major projects, including: One World Trade Center, which will become the world’s third tallest building; a major transportation hub which will serve more than 100,000 daily commuters; and the National 9/11 Memorial Plaza and Museum, which will serve as a place of remembrance.

“All of the attendees were presented with a unique opportunity to witness typical New York City construction in progress on a grand scale,” said O’Connor.

O’Connor – who worked on the reconstruction efforts immediately after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as well as the catastrophic attacks of September 11, 2001 – is Assistant Director to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s World Trade Center Construction Department. He is the Port Authority’s lead man responsible for the site’s major projects.

Tirri is a program manager with the Louis Berger Group, a major contractor that provides program management services for the World Trade Center site. Previously, he worked on the Ground Zero clean-up effort with a different firm.

They said the educational core Stevens provided them made them uniquely qualified to confront the many engineering, design and construction challenges presented by such a large-scale and complex project.

“Our base learning experience at Stevens teaches us how to approach a situation, strip it to its core, and systematically solve the key aspects, ultimately resulting in an intelligent solution,” said Tirri. “I think this fundamental skill is what separates many of us who have graduate from Stevens from our peers.”

“From the oversight of caisson excavations deep below street level for the Freedom Tower to the design of more robust life safety systems to resist any future terrorist or climatic threats, Stevens engineers are there,” O’Connor added.

Read more about the incredible work of these Stevens alumni on the reconstruction of the World Trade Center here