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2018 Pipelines Conference an International Success

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The 2018 Pipelines Conference was held on July 15-18, 2018, at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Toronto, Canada. This was the first Pipelines Conference to be held outside the United States. The conference was the premier event for the pipelines engineering, utilities, and surveying industries. Focusing on the theme of Revitalizing Global Underground Utility Infrastructure , the conference presented attendees with a wide range of educational and networking opportunities.

Attendance was strong this year for the Pipelines Conference with 939 attendees- which was within 20 people of exceeding our all-time attendance record at the 2014 conference in Portland, OR. The attendees were a diverse group: 297 from Canada, 519 from the US, and another 122 from other countries.

UESI wishes to thank the conference co-chairs, William Fernandes, M.ASCE, and Tennyson Muindi, P.E., M.ASCE. William Fernandes was the local contact from Toronto Water and was a key factor in attracting the local Canadian professionals to the conference. Tennyson Muindi is with McMillen Jacobs Associates in Boston, MA and the vice-chair of the Pipeline Division Executive Committee. Tennyson helped coordinate the internal operations that are critical to the success of the conference. The two technical co-chairs were Chris Macey, P.E., MASCE, with AECOM, and Jason Lueke, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, with Associated Engineering. Chris and Jason led the technical team in reviewing abstracts, selecting the final papers and preparing the technical program for the conference. Also involved in the conference were Anna Pridmore, Ph.D., M.ASCE, from Structural Technologies, as the Advisor to the technical co-chairs; Erin McGuire, P.E., M.ASCE, from CDM Smith as the Education Chair; Devan Thomas, P.E., M.ASCE, from AECOM as the Exhibits and Sponsorship Chair; and Sandra Rolfe-Dickinson, P.E., C.Eng. (UK) from Pipetechnics Ltd, as the International Chair.

UESI would like to thank our generous sponsors, without which the Pipelines Conference would not have been possible. Our Platinum Sponsor was Structural Technologies. Gold sponsors were the City of Toronto, AECOM, American Cast Iron Pipe, Ameron, Cardno, Garney Construction, Northwest Pipe, Pure Technologies, and T2 Utility Engineers. Corporate sponsors were Geico, Bank of America, Pearl Insurance, and UPS. Silver sponsors were Carollo, Chemline, Jacobs, GTSWCA, HDR, and Stantec. Bronze Sponsors were American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association, Associated Engineering, Black & Veatch, CIMA, and SYNTEC.

Annually, the Exhibit Hall is a cornerstone of the Pipelines Conference, and 91 exhibitors brought their products and services to our attendees. Traffic in the sold-out Exhibit Hall was high, enhanced by dedicated breaks when no other conference programming was scheduled. The Exhibit Hall featured products and services that attendees were eager to sample.

A comprehensive Technical Program of eight tracks was presented over two and a half days. With nearly 90 paper-based and panel sessions, the Technical Program covered all aspects of utility engineering. Tracks included Construction & Rehabilitation, Condition Assessment, Planning & Design, Utility Engineering Surveying (UES), and Multidiscipline Topics. There were four Pre-conference Workshops; conducted on Saturday and Sunday, to give participants an opportunity to study technical topics and new publications in greater depth.

For the first time, UESI provided scholarships to public sector professionals and students. A total of 40 public sector scholarships and 5 student scholarships were awarded. UESI will be expanding these programs in the future. Information about scholarships will be posted on the Pipelines 2019 Conference website.

The Pipelines Conference had a special session on Women in Engineering. This session featured a guided discussion covering a wide array of topics tailored for women professionals in the water and wastewater industry. The session panel included ASCE President-elect, Robin Kemper, P.E., LEED AP, F.SEI, F.ASCE; Therese Kline, P.E., M.ASCE, ASCE Region 3 Governor; Anna Pridmore, P.E., Ph.D., M.ASCE, Pipelines Division Executive Committee member; Marlee Frazen, DC Water; Bethany McDonald, M.ASCE, Black & Veatch; and Stephanie Darr, First Energy. The session attracted both women and men, from students to seasoned veterans.

Each year UESI invites distinguished speakers to share their expertise, experiences, and skills with conference attendees. We were pleased to receive a welcome from Jaye Robinson, Toronto City Councillor for Ward 25 - Don Valley West, and Chair of the city's Public Works and Infrastructure Committee. Councillor Robinson oversees a $2 billion portfolio that includes transportation services, Toronto Water, solid waste management, and engineering and construction services. Robin A. Kemper, ASCE President-elect, followed Ms. Robinson, and spoke to the group about the ASCE Infrastructure Report Card.

Our opening Keynote Speaker, Michael Cook, is a Canadian researcher, underground photographer, landscape architect, and heritage consultant. In 2015, he was named one of Canada's greatest modern explorers by Canadian Geographic magazine for his work to reveal the unseen infrastructure of Toronto and other cities. Michael's work on infrastructure emphasized the value of public attention and understanding of the systems that allow our cities and society to function. He discussed his underground experiences, and the importance of the public engagement with subsurface infrastructure in Toronto and world-wide.

The Tuesday Luncheon Keynote Speaker was Rex Murphy, the famous Canadian social commentator, editorialist, and a distinct Canadian voice. Mr. Murphy gave participants a sarcastic and humorous insight into issues that affected his life and the people he met. His thought-provoking, sometimes stinging commentary, and original observations were delivered through his interesting use of English vocabulary. He was much enjoyed by everyone, especially the Canadians in the audience who have followed him for many years.

UESI was proud to celebrate the achievements of its members by presenting several prestigious awards at the Tuesday Plenary Luncheon. Randy Randolph, P.E., M.ASCE, was the recipient of the 2018 Stephen D. Bechtel Pipeline Engineering Award for his numerous contributions to the engineering profession as a seasoned practitioner in the design, construction, and maintenance of dams, canals, pipelines, pumping plants, groundwater recharge projects, and other associated facilities. Victor E. Fernandez-Cuervo,P.E., CGC, ENV SP, F.ASCE, was the recipient of the 2018 Pipeline Division Award of Excellence for his service and leadership as chair of the Pipeline Division Executive Committee in 2016-2017. Victor has served on various technical committees of the Pipeline Division for many years and was recently elected to the UESI Board of Governors.

Our special evening event took place on Toronto's Centre Island. Attendees were able to enjoy a spectacular view of the City of Toronto, play games, and hear live music.

Attendees left the 2018 Pipelines Conference energized to apply the information they gained on-site to their work challenges. Planning has already begun for the 2019 Pipelines Conference,July 21-24, 2019, in Nashville, TN. Please visit the 2019 Pipelines Conference website for more information.

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