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Hisham Sarieddine, wearing a hard hat and orange vest, talks to people also dressed in protective gear.
Media Caption
Shannon & Wilson’s Hisham Sarieddine explains how soil samples are collected by the Geotech boring rig.

Federal Way students learn “boring" work is anything but

Sound Transit staff and contractors team up to show local students the environmental science and geology behind planning and building light rail in their community.

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In March 2022, Sound Transit invited four science classes at Pacific Christian Academy to observe how geotechnical borings and other fieldwork shape the design of projects like the future Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF) South.

Pacific Christian Academy, a private K-12 school in Federal Way, is located within the project’s Board-identified preferred site for building the OMF South.

Teresa Vanderburg, a professional wetland scientist from Sound Transit’s Environment & Sustainability team, explained the importance of securing permits from cities to ensure that critical areas like wetlands and streams are protected before and after investigative work on the OMF site.

A soil color chart is used to compare different wetland soils.
Sound Transit’s Teresa Vanderburg uses a soil color chart with students from Pacific Christian Academy to compare between different wetland soils.

Understanding wetlands and streams as unique habitats for living species is a crucial part of addressing environmental impacts from major construction projects.

Hisham Sarieddine, a professional geotechnical engineer from the engineering firm Shannon & Wilson, explained how geotechnical borings to collect soil samples can help us better understand the ground below potential structures and prevent settlement of the structures after a project is completed.

The famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, Hisham noted, wouldn’t be so famous had there been a geotechnical engineer involved!

Next, students donned personal protective equipment and journeyed into the field to check out one of the geotechnical drill rigs. The drilling goes about 50-60 feet deep a day to collect soil samples to depths of more than 100 feet.

An engineer holds a Geotech boring rig’s drill bit.
​​​​​Shannon & Wilson’s Hisham Sarieddine explains the function of the Geotech boring rig’s drill bit.

Teresa then had the students interact with a “wetland in a bucket,” filled with wetland soils and plant species.  She used the bucket to talk about the characteristics of the onsite wetland located in the northeast corner of the property.

She explained how the texture and water content can affect the look and feel of wetland soils, and why wetlands are considered critical habitats in the City of Federal Way.

The team’s goal was not only to show what goes on behind large infrastructure projects, but to also showcase the variety of expertise and careers at the agency making these things happen.

Sound Transit’s Teresa Vanderburg explains the importance of safety at construction sites.
Sound Transit’s Teresa Vanderburg explains the importance of safety at construction sites.

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