I returned to McMurdo Station from the South Pole and got my new room assignment, a shared 5 bed berth in the main station building. I arranged to meet up with my new friend Julie Katch whom I'd met on the way through the first time. Julie works in Antarctica every year (four years running) as a draftsman. I have heard of contract workers like dining assistants, general assistants, carpenters, "fuelies", and "wasties", but it never occurred to me that you'd need architects in residence down on the ice. I guess I figured that all of the technical design stuff would happen in building the stations and then those individuals would leave.

Well it turns out that all the drawings for all the buildings built by the NSF on Antartica are housed in McMurdo. They're all right there. And it also turns out that every time they build something new, or change an existing structure they need someone to document it professionally. Here's where a resident draftsman trained as an architect would come in handy.

Julie Katch showing off her measuring tape.
Julie Katch showing off her measuring tape.
Julie Katch is that person. She received her architecture degree and worked in the industry for several years before being enticed to visit the southernmost continent. Julie says it was just very lucky that they needed a draftsman.

Her main responsibilities are to measure the buildings, and their technical physical components and then to draw them. This way an exact record is kept on file to aid in any future building developments.

Julie's office--a positively massive room full of flat files.
Julie's office--a positively massive room full of flat files.

She also has the responsibility of maintaining and scanning all the old files of plans that exist at McMurdo. She works closely with a team of six architects in Denver, Colorado (The USAP's headquarters) to make sure they have exactly what they need.

A set of drawings
A set of drawings
A drawing of a field camp
A drawing of a field camp. Julie has to travel out to all the field camps to take their measurements.
A drawing that Julie edited.  It's a room with lots of ducting and equipment.
A drawing that Julie edited. It's a room with lots of ducting and equipment. She had to learn extra technical drawing skills for this type of facility drawing.

Sometimes she gets to make a drawing for a piece of equipment, like this LED streetlight. The drawing will help the maintenance engineers mount it on a building.

LED streetlight
LED streetlight
Julie's drawing.
Julie's drawing.

Thanks very much, Julie for your time. I hope to see you stateside sometime!

Katey and Julie Katch
Katey and Julie Katch

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