“Their skills go beyond the tools.” That’s how Facilities and Operations Utilities department Tunnel Foreman Mike Rhodes describes the pipefitters, insulators and electricians who make up the university’s Tunnel Crew, affectionately called the “Tunnel Rats.”
Working underground in a network of very hot (105-125 degrees!) tunnels that deliver steam, hot water, compressed air, and cables for data transmission to most buildings on Central Campus, the Tunnel Crew is known for understanding the upstream and downstream implications of work they do. They proactively look at the big picture to provide the best possible service to campus via this complex system.
For instance, they identified a recent construction project that had the potential to disrupt utilities to the surrounding buildings. Because they feel ownership and are empowered to find solutions, the Tunnel Crew was able to mitigate potential service interruptions.
Rhodes and Utilities Services Manager Mike Swanson explained that the group is a very proud, hardworking crew. They are driven by values including respect, a true ownership perspective that drives them to do the right thing, and a strong customer focus.
The Tunnel Rats prefer to work in the shadows—literally! They live by the mantra, “If we are doing our job right, no one should know we are here.”