August 2017 Vol. 72 No. 8


Matthews Assumes Trenchless Technology Center Leadership Role

In March, Dr. John Matthews assumed the position of director of the Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) at Louisiana Tech University.
TTC is a leading research facility for the development of technologies influencing the various trenchless construction and rehabilitation methods. It is recognized as a focal point where representatives of the trenchless industry can access unbiased technical information and receive answers to questions regarding trenchless applications.

Matthews succeeds Dr. Tom Iseley, who remains the center’s director of international operations and professor of civil engineering, construction technology.

After completing his doctorate, Matthews served as water infrastructure lead at  Battelle Memorial Institute. From there he assumed the position of pipe rehabilitation service line manager for Pure Technologies before joining the TTC.


While Matthews is the TTC’s new director, he is not “new” to the center, having worked with every previous director and earning his doctorate in civil engineering from Louisiana Tech.

“The center has been blessed with outstanding leadership from its directors over the past 27 years, including Dr. Tom Iseley, Dr. Ray Sterling, Dr. Erez Allouche and Dr. Rob McKim,” Matthews said. “I was fortunate to work with each of them over the years and learn from them, and will put those lessons to good use now as director.”

The trenchless industry and its needs are rapidly changing, and the TTC must continue to be dynamic and expand into a more comprehensive role, Matthews noted.

“I believe,” he explained, “that my experience in technology research and development, along with our experienced staff and affiliated researchers and professors, and the cooperation with the industry partners, will continue to aid the trenchless technology industry.”

Matthews and the TTC staff are committed to maintaining close contact with leaders from throughout the trenchless industry and to being aware of changes in the industry as they occur. Immediate goals are to engage with TTC’s Industry Advisory Board (IAB) to ensure the center continues to meet its needs and to enhance the center’s research programs.

“We have several active projects,” Matthews said, “including multiple projects focused on the long-term suitability of liners for pressure pipes, and the development of innovative sensors for the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) and subsurface utility engineering (SUE) industries.”

Challenges to be addressed include pressure pipe management of both water and sewer force mains.

“There are needs related to location, inspection, installation and rehabilitation that we as an industry are endeavoring to meet,” he said. “We have leading researchers in pressure liners with Dr. Shaurav Alam, sensors with Dr. Arun Jaganathan, and trenchless installation with Dr. Tom Iseley.”


The TTC evolved from the Trenchless Excavation Center at Louisiana Tech, established in 1989 by Iseley, with a primary focus on microtunneling and horizontal directional drilling. Expanding its reach to other trenchless technologies, the name was changed to the Trenchless Technology Center in 1991.

A milestone came in 2008 with the dedication of the National Trenchless Technology Research Facility on the university’s South Campus.
This 5,000-square-foot facility was funded primarily by Industry Advisory Board members and is the largest dedicated trenchless technology research facility in North America. The laboratory is fully equipped to perform most research functions and includes a strong floor, two soil boxes, a full material testing system, plus an outdoor insitu pipe testing field.

The TTC maintains the world’s most extensive library of trenchless technology literature, ranging from research reports from around the world to conference proceedings.

Funding for the TTC comes from a variety of sources. Louisiana Tech provides space for the center on its Ruston campus and support for research, partial salary support for the director, faculty and for the center’s administration needs.
Other funding comes from industry members through the center’s advisory board, contract research, private donations, and from publications and seminars.

“Having watched the TTC grow and evolve into what it is today has been fulfilling,” concluded Matthews. “I feel privileged to serve as its director to help guide it to new heights. The TTC offers a highly collaborative environment that allows technology developers, contractors, consulting engineers, utility owners, researchers, the university and government affiliates to come together and develop creative solutions with real-world application.”

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