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2017 Pipelines Conference was a Great Event

Friday, September 22, 2017

The 2017 Pipelines Conference was a great success. Held August 7 -9, 2017, at the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge, Phoenix, AZ, the conference was the premier event for the pipelines engineering, utilities, and surveying industries. With the theme Reliability and Resiliency through Sustainable Design and Construction, conference attendees enjoyed a wide range of educational and networking opportunities. 

Attendees remarked how the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix, AZ, was the perfect venue for this event. The proximity of the Exhibit Hall to the session and committee meeting rooms allowed for easy interaction and effortless networking. The Ballroom lobby became a commons where attendees could meet, get their questions answered at the registration desk, stop by the UESI booth, and peruse the latest publications at the ASCE Bookstore.

Attendance was strong this year for the Pipelines Conference. With more than 830 attendees, we were within a few people of our all-time high, and substantially more than last year. Attendees were a diverse group, coming from 42 states and 13 countries. 

UESI would like to thank our generous sponsors, without which the Pipelines Conference would not be possible. Platinum Sponsors were Structural Technologies and Mid America Pipe Fab. Gold sponsors were American Cast Iron Pipe, Ameron, Garney Construction, Northwest Pipe, and Pure Technologies. Corporate sponsors were Geico, Bank of America, Pearl Insurance, and UPS. Silver sponsors were Carolo, HDR, and Jacobs. Bronze Sponsors were American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association, Black & Veatch, CH2M, Duromar, Hobas Pipe, and GHD.

Annually, the Exhibit Hall is a cornerstone of the Pipelines Conference, and this year industry support was at an all-time high. More than 100 exhibitors brought their products and services to our attendees. Traffic in the Exhibit Hall was high, enhanced by dedicated breaks where no other conference programming was scheduled. From large-scale samples of pipe, to demonstrations of cutting-edge new products, the Exhibit Hall featured products and services that our attendees were eager to sample. 

A comprehensive Technical Program of eight tracks was presented over two and a half days. With close to 90 paper-based and panel sessions, the Technical Program covered all aspects of utility engineering. Tracks included Construction & Rehabilitation, Condition Assessment, Planning & Design, Surveying/Geomatics & Utility Risk Management, and Multidiscipline Topics. In addition, five Pre-conference Workshops were conducted on Saturday and Sunday to give participants an opportunity to study technical topics and new publications in great depth.  

Each year UESI invites distinguished keynote speakers to share their expertise, experiences, and skills with conference attendees. We were pleased to receive a welcome to the city of Phoenix from Kathryn Sorenson, Ph.D., Director of the City of Phoenix Water Services, one of the largest potable water utilities in the United States. 2018 ASCE President Kristina Swallow, P.E., ENV SP, F.ASCE, spoke to the group about the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card.

Our opening Keynote Speaker, Jon C. Schladweiler, P.E., Historian for the Arizona Water Association, shared a comprehensive survey of the history of sewer and water systems. Using exhibits from the Sewer History Exhibit, Mr. Schladweiler helped attendees understand how these systems developed. At the Tuesday Luncheon Plenary, Scott Zimmer of Bridgeworks gave participants a humorous and fact-filled talk about how different generations navigate the workplace. Mr. Zimmer's presentation outlined several stress points between generations, and illustrated successful strategies to overcome them. Our final keynote speaker, Faridodin "Fredi" Lajvard, shared inspirational stories from his work with disadvantaged teens as a high school teacher. Mr. Lajvard discussion of  strategies to tap into the teens' potential and lead them to success against teams from top universities ties into the greater theme of investing in people. These stories are also featured in the IMAX film "Dream Big." 

UESI was proud to celebrate the achievements of its members by presenting several prestigious awards at a special plenary luncheon. Glenn M. Boyce, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, was the recipient of the 2017 Stephen D. Bechtel Pipeline Engineering Award for his numerous contributions to the engineering profession as a seasoned practitioner, educator, and author expanding design and construction realms of utility pipelines, tunnels, shafts, geotechnical engineering, and all aspects of trenchless technologies.  Timothy B. Kennedy, P.E., M.ASCE, was the recipient of the 2017 Pipeline Division Award of Excellence for his service and leadership as chair of the executive committee of the UESI Pipeline Division in 2015-2016. Tim has served on various technical committees of the Pipeline Division for many years and continues to serve on the Pipelines committees. Ron Singh, P.L.S., M.ASCE, was the recipient of the 2017 ASCE Surveying & Mapping Award for his detailed vision of the future as the Chief of Surveys for the Oregon Department of Transportation, where he helped implement new engineering automation technologies for operations, maintenance, and construction.

Our special evening event took place at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Attendees were able to enjoy live entertainment and a delicious meal. Highlights included a special exhibit on inlaid guitar masterpieces, the Experience Gallery where visitors can try out a variety of instruments, and the permanent collection of instruments and other artifacts from major artists. 

Attendees left the 2017 Pipelines Conference energized to apply the information they gained on-site to their work challenges. Planning has already begun for the 2018 Pipelines Conference, July 15 - 18, 2018, in Toronto, Canada. This will be the first Pipelines Conference held outside the United States. Visit the conference website to learn more.