Virginia Beach student team wins first place in VDOT's HRBT Expansion Project Tunnel Boring Machine naming contest

Posted at 3:27 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 15:29:38-05

NORFOLK, Va.VDOT announced the top three finalists and the winning name selected for the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) at a virtual ceremony on Wednesday.

In collaboration with the Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP), VDOT held a contest to formally name the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) that will be used to construct the new twin two-lane bored tunnels for the HRBT.

The contest launched in October and was open to all middle school students in Hampton Roads.

Student entries included posters, brochures, essays, and videos. Entries were judged on the name submitted and relevance to the project and community, as well as the creativity and presentation of the submission.

First Place was awarded to students from Saint Gregory the Great Catholic School – Team Sancti Potentes in Virginia Beach.

The student team submitted a video in the style of a newscast featuring the TBM.

The team chose the name “Mary” for Mary Jackson, a Hampton native, who was a mathematician and aerospace engineer at NASA, noted for her pioneering role of an African American woman in the field of science and engineering, and her crucial contributions to the NASA Space Program.

Second Place was awarded to students from Crittenden Middle School in Newport News who submitted the name “Mary” as a brochure entry.

Third Place was awarded to students from Hunter B. Andrews PreK-8 in Hampton who submitted the name “TEO” for The Emancipation Oak as a brochure entry.

The TBM is made in Germany and will be used to construct the tunnels for the expansion project. It is considered a key component in completing the largest infrastructure project in Virginia history.

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

The announcement ceremony was live streamed here.

Second and third place finalists received certificates and recognition for their participation in the contest.

First place award winners received certificates and will be featured in the HRBT Expansion Magazine. They also have the honor of having the winning name “Mary” prominently displayed on the TBM which is slated to arrive in the fall.