04-27-2022

What We’re Up To In Antarctica

Our team was hired by Leidos to be responsible for the design and construction of the Antarctic Infrastructure and Modernization for Science (AIMS) project located at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. McMurdo Station was established in December 1955, and research has been ongoing since the start.

AIMS is one of the initiatives of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) United States Antarctic Program (USAP) and is a major capital investment effort to support the United States’ world-class science program in Antarctica. McMurdo Station is the largest U.S. station on the continent and is built on the bare volcanic rock of Hut Point Peninsula on Ross Island. McMurdo Station is supported by roughly 1,000 support staff and scientists and provides logistical support for additional USAP research stations in Antarctica.

McMurdo Station
View of McMurdo Station from Observation Hill

The infrastructure modernization project will ensure that McMurdo Station remains a viable platform for supporting world class science facilities for the next 50 years. Upon completion in 2026, our team will have built three major buildings, including an Information Technology and Communications facility (IT&C), a Lodging Facility and a Vehicle and Equipment Operation Center (VEOC). The new IT&C center will house station data centers and network operations. The lodging building will house onsite personnel, and the VEOC will be used to maintain the station fleet vehicles. Parsons, under contract to NSF’s prime contractor Leidos, is designing the new facilities and executing the construction in the field with both in-house and subcontractor personnel. Once finalized, these new facilities will ensure that the station continues to be a hub for world-class science. Our Engineered Systems continues to perform construction activities at the bottom of the Earth with internal resources and an amazing group of selected subcontracts that include demolition and earthwork, structural steel construction, electrical, mechanical and interior fit-out. In addition, this team understands the logistical challenges associated with sending all the required building materials and supplies on only one available vessel a year.

Information Technology and Communications Facility (IT&C)
Information Technology and Communications Facility (IT&C), April 2020

A typical day “on the ice” is encountered with an assortment of logistical and construction challenges that can only be solved by implementing a collaborative approach. The design and construction program faces numerous challenges when building at the bottom of the planet. Days feel long, especially when the sun shines or hides for 24 hours. Speaking of weather, the lowest “summer” temperature is -15F average, equivalent to the winter season in northern America. Cold weather construction gear and extreme cold weather gear – much needed tools for the job – are provided for all personnel.

Plane in Antarctica
USAF C-17, Phoenix Airfield

After work, the local community warms up with many different activities including social clubs, sports equipment rentals (skis and snowboards) and fitness classes to name a few. Groups meet to play basketball, volleyball, soccer and dodgeball. For those looking for more outdoor adventures, Antarctica has any cold weather activity as you can imagine, including, hiking, biking, skiing and more.

For over 75 years, we have supported many federal government agencies, like the USAP, to meet their facility and infrastructure program needs by guiding them through planning, design, construction and post-construction challenges on complex, multi-site multi-phase programs. We are excited to be a part of the AIMS project, one of the largest projects on the continent and recognized as an engineering and construction marvel.

To learn more about opportunities and to be a part of our team, please visit our careers page.

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