The International Association for Foundation Drilling (ADSC) conducted its Drill Rig Operator’s School from Sept. 10-17 in Lafayette, N.J. This year’s school welcomed 30 students and 10 field support personnel from around the country, as well as five instructors from the United States and Germany, for a full week’s curriculum of classroom and field-based instruction. Host company, Lafayette-based Casagrande USA, joined other vendors in providing rigs, tooling and personnel for the comprehensive program.

Field drilling stations allowed participants to receive instruction in drilling processes including rock auger, down-hole hammer, slurry, secant wall and conventional, and to practice using equipment provided by Casagrande USA, Watson, Bauer and Soilmec. Rigs were outfitted with the tooling and accessory equipment needed to provide a real-world drilling experience.

The classroom program offered detailed study of topics such as safety; equipment, including the study of rigs and methods; service and maintenance; jobsite math; matching tools to ground conditions; drilling operations; material placements; soil and soil reports; hydraulics; and more.

Bob LaMay, president of Huntington, N.Y.-based LaMay & Sons Inc., found the school to be very educational. “I talked with instructors, drillers, suppliers and attendees, and I got to operate and evaluate a range of equipment,” LaMay says.  “And I found the classroom talks to be even more informative than the drilling.” LaMay brought his partner (and brother) John along, so that they could compare their thoughts on various rigs and their applications.

Robert Sharlow, a service technician with Casagrande USA and a field instructor at the school, found his students to be very receptive and capable. “They made good use of their time in the rig,” he notes. “They go through all the steps in the process repeatedly, and pay attention to machine function and performance. It’s an opportunity to learn a lot.”

The event, the seventh in the series, takes almost a full year to plan. After the course work is planned, vendors must be lined up to supply equipment. Vendors, contractors and geotechnical specialist companies provide instructors. Sponsors are sought for lunches and dinners, and the program must be promoted and attendees recruited.

According to Tony Kraut of Watson Drill Rigs, who co-coordinated the event with Danny Santaniello, general superintendent with McKinney Drilling Co. of Lansdale, Pa., and Mike Abruzzo, a salesman with Casagrande USA, finding the right location, particularly in a different geographic area than the previous year’s school, is important. He felt that the Lafayette site, which is the home of the Limecrest Inc. quarry, provided a range of experiences for the attendees. “There are alluvial and silted soils and hard stone, and the diversity of soils gives the students experience in a variety of conditions they may find in the field,” Kraut explains.

Bill Birch, Casagrande USA general manager, was thrilled to have the school nearby: “It’s a great event, bringing together people from throughout the industry and around the country. We were very glad to be a part of it.”

Founded in 1972, ADSC is a non-profit, international, professional, trade association representing the drilled shaft, anchored earth retention, micro-pile, and other related civil construction/design industries. Its members include specialty subcontractors, design engineers in the private and public sectors, academicians, and manufacturers and suppliers. Through 19 technical committees, the association establishes standards and specifications, funds research and scholarships, conducts design, construction, inspection and testing seminars, and offers field and management training programs.