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PORTS ’19 Post Conference Report

Monday, October 28, 2019

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PORTS '19 Chair Liz Burkhart, P.E., D.PE, M.ASCE, Addresses the Plenary Crowd

September 15-19, 2019 was the first time a PORTS ® Conference has ever been held in an inland port city, and by all accounts it was a success. Pittsburgh, PA hosted the 15 th triennial that truly delivered on the theme, "Connect. Innovate. Transform." COPRI's Ports & Harbors Committee and the PORTS '19 Steering Committee, led by Elizabeth Collins Burkhart, P.E., D.PE, M.ASCE, facilitated a packed technical program to attendees from more than 20 countries.

The technical program consisted of 36 technical tracks where authors from across the globe presented on 138 papers. Running concurrent to those sessions was the first ever PORTS Conference innovative Track E of non-technical sessions. These addressed a diverse group of port engineering topics including panel presentations on Government Advocacy, Public-Private Partnerships for ports, PIANC/MARCOM Working Group updates, and the USACE Pittsburgh District's program.

Another focus of PORTS '19 was the advancement of students and young professionals in the field. The Student and Young Professionals Reception was held on Sunday, September 15. PORTS '19 Student Paper Competition welcomed five student presenters from across the globe who, spread out among technical sessions on Monday, September 16 shared their presentations. A panel of judges chose the top three papers and awarded cash prizes during the PORTS® '19 Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, September 17. Also, on Tuesday was the Ports 101 four-hour technical short course that provided an overview for new technical professionals working in the port and maritime industry. Finally, Tuesday evening saw the Student and Young Professionals Networking Session where an interactive panel of leading professionals from across the country shared their tips with attendees.

COPRI PORTS '19 Awards - Photo Credit: Robert Levy Photography

The Awards Luncheon held on Tuesday was emceed by COPRI President Imee Osantowski, P.E., M.ASCE and ASCE President Guna N. Gunalan, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE., F.ASCE welcomed the attendees and awards recipients. The Luncheon Address was given by Leslie S. Richards, PennDOT Secretary and both Chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and of the Pennsylvania Public Private Partnership board.

ACOPNE presented annual awards and introduced 5 new Diplomates.

COPRI Project Excellence Awards were presented to Vancouver Waterfront Park (Small Project Winner) accepted by Scott Mcmahon, BergerABAM / WSP ; and Goethals Bridge Replacement (Large Project Winner) accepted by Joe DiFiore, Parsons.

The Orville T. Magoon Sustainable Coasts Award was presented to Louise Wallendorf, P.E., M.ASCE. 

The John G. Moffatt - Frank E. Nichol Harbor and Coastal Engineering Award was presented to Bill Dutra, A.M.ASCE; and Bill Castle, P.E., F.ASCE. 

The Kenneth M. Childs, Jr. Practitioner's Award was presented to Thomas J. Collins, P.E., S.E., D.P.E., F.ASCE; and Bill Paparis, P.E., D.PE, M.ASCE.

The PORTS Conference also featured a student paper and presentation competition. The five finalists of the paper competition were invited to attend PORTS and present in regular technical sessions.

A panel of judges attended all five sessions and voted for the best presentation in session and results were announced live at the Awards Ceremony.

  • First Place: Maria Pontiki, S.M.ASCE
  • Second Place: Claudia Reis, S.M.ASCE
  • Third Place: Zachary Usselton, S.M.ASCE

On the final day of the conference, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District and their Commander Col Coby Short hosted a group of attendees on a tour of the Charleroi Lock and Dam on the Monongahela River (pictured below). The group heard from USACE engineers as they made clear the importance of inland waterways infrastructure to the economy. They also explained the process of pouring concrete with both "in the wet" and "in the dry" methods that are utilized on the site.

Charleroi - Credit Monique Anderson; PORTS '19 attendees looking over the active construction site at Charleroi Lock and Dam - Photo Credit: Monique Anderson