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HOT FUSION! Alan Pizzi Returns from France after Working on World’s Largest Scientific Project
Publication Date
November 11th 2014

How long were you at Urban prior to moving? 
I was at Urban for six years prior to moving to France. However, I worked with Urban from the contractor side for more than 20 years before that, starting at the Center City Commuter Tunnel/Market East Station project in the 1980s.​


Tell us more about your work in France.
My job was the lead cost estimator at the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor – ITER. The ITER brings together India, China, South Korea, USA, Japan, Russia and the European Union as scientists see if they can jointly harness the power of the Sun in a nuclear reactor weighing about 23,000 tons – as much as three Eiffel Towers.


That sounds amazing. Where does the ITER project stand now?
It is expected to have start up, called “first plasma” by about 2023. They are around 40% complete. The unique thing about the project is that the components of the reactor are being fabricated in each of the participating nations, and then shipped to France for assembly on site. Some components have been fabricated in Camden, NJ at the Joseph Oat Corporation.


What was the most significant lesson learned on the ITER project? 
The importance of good project controls – cost, schedule, scope, and risk. The more complex the project, the more important project controls are in getting it built.


What was your most memorable experience in France?
Since we had eight weeks vacation each year, my wife and I were able to drive our little Citroen all over Europe. The most memorable was the visit to my grandparent’s village in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Virtually everyone in the town was my cousin. They fed us well!


What type of projects are you working on now at Urban?
Providing cost estimates for all of Urban’s design projects, and doing the cost work for Urban’s Project Management Oversight Consultant efforts for the Federal Transit Administration.