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Kianna Andrews

Mattea Broden

Andrews PreK-8 students place third in Tunnel Boring Machine Naming Contest

Seventh grade students Kianna Andrews and Mattea Broden of Andrews PreK-8 School have placed third in the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Tunnel Boring Machine Naming Contest. They submitted the name The Emancipation Oak (TEO).

The Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel Expansion Project held the contest to formally name the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) that will construct its new twin two-lane bored tunnels west of the existing eastbound Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT). The TBM is used to excavate and construct a tunnel. It has a 46-foot diameter cutter head that will excavate through soil, while concrete liners are set in place by a rotating vacuum powered lift, creating the outer shell of the tunnel. The TBM will be assembled inside a 65-foot deep launch pit on the South Island of the HRBT. The TBM is about the length of a football field. It will launch from the South Island, bore a tunnel to the North Island, turn, and then bore a parallel tunnel back to the South Island. The process will take more than two years. Built in Germany specifically for the HRBT Expansion Project, the TBM will be a central component of the project.

One might ask why you would name a TBM. Traditionally, a TBM is named before it begins any work as a sign of good luck for the project ahead. TBMs have been historically named after a woman, because tunnellers looked to Saint Barbara, the patron saint for military engineers and
miners, for protection.

Kianna and Mattea, who are members of the ESTEAM Club at their school submitted the application for the contest. They stated that as a group, their club looked up information about their topic and then researched landmarks, celebrities, science, and historical sites that were located near the current bridge.

“Having the opportunity to work with the students and the Tunnel Boring Machine project was amazing,” said Andrews Assistant Principal Dr. Janice Richison. “When it arrives from Germany we will be there to witness this historical event. Our students truly represent the, 'Cream of the Crop' for Hampton City Schools! I am so proud of them and the support we received from the Links, Inc. of Hampton, Virginia and our principal, Mr. Barkley.”

The students will be invited to the TBM naming ceremony and recognized at that time.

ESTEAM is a club in collaboration with The Links, Incorporated, and Hampton University established with the intention of aiming to increase the number of African American female students that enter STEM academies, pursue college STEM majors, and pursue STEM careers. The program also aims to support students during their enrollment in high school preparatory math and science courses. Dr. Janice Richison is the club sponsor.