Innovative Project Delivery Class Flies to Panama
MIT Students Tour Massive Canal Project
Posted June 24, 2010
This past spring, eight MIT students enrolled in the MIT/CRE's Innovative Project Delivery class joined Professor Chris Gordon to see one of the world's most important modern infrastructure projects -- the expansion of the Panama Canal. The group also visited the construction of Panama's new Museum of Biodiversity designed by Frank Ghery, learned about the potential redevelopment of Panama City's historic Casco Viejo neighborhood, and studied the particular needs of island developments.
The Innovative Project Delivery course focuses on contracting methods and delivery method theory for large-scale public and private projects. The tour of Panama was conceived of and hosted by Mr. Frederic Berger of the Louis Berger Companies, a regular contributor to the Innovative Project Delivery class, as well as an MIT alumnus.
On the first day, students met with the Panama Canal Authority's Senor De La Guardia who explained the complicated RFP and contract award process for the expansions project. After the meeting, students were escorted on a site tour to review the excavation for the Canal's new Post-Panama expansion. The project will accommodate ships with a capacity of 13,000 TEU (Twenty foot Equivalent Units), which contrasts remarkably with existing locks that can only accommodate capacities of 5,000 TEUs. "The scale of the expansion is incredible, and we were given unprecedented access to the site," said Teaching Assistant Mike Tilford. The tour continued on to see the construction of the new Museum of Biodiversity design by Frank Ghery, and to the Casco Viejo neighborhood of Panama City.
On the second day, students flew to the Island of Contadora for presentations on residential and commercial development in Island environments. Louis Berger Company representatives explained some of the considerations for development in fragile ecosystems with constrained natural resources, as well as some of their proposals to enhance existing waste treatment and recycling systems.
According to Professor Gordon, "the trip was a fantastic success and everyone learned a lot from the experience. Fred Berger was extremely generous, and this trip allowed the students to see one of the most important modern infrastructure construction projects in the world. We may integrate this type of trip into the curriculum every year."