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2019 Pipelines Conference Summary

Thursday, August 8, 2019

The UESI Pipelines 2019 Conference was held July 21-24, 2019 at the Nashville Renaissance Hotel in the heart of downtown Nashville, TN. More than 900 attendees from around the country and them globe gathered in the dynamic city of Nashville, to learn about the latest developments in the profession. In addition to registrants from the US, there were 65 from Canada, and 40 representing 12 other countries. Focusing on the theme Concepts in Harmony, the conference was an opportunity for attendees to enrich their education and network with peers.

UESI wishes to thank the Conference Co-chairs, Anna Pridmore, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE and Hal Balthrop, P.E., M.ASCE. Hal Balthrop was the local contact from Metro Water Services, Nashville, who worked closely with regional contacts to promote the conference and gave us a warm welcome to the city. Anna Pridmore is with Structural Technologies in Columbia, Maryland, and is the Vice-chair of the Pipeline Division Executive Committee. Anna helped coordinate the internal operations that were critical to the success of the conference. The two Technical Co-chairs were Jeffrey W. Heidrick, P.E., ENV SP, M.ASCE, with Burns & McDonnell, and Mark S. Mihm, P.E., ENV SP, M.ASCE, with HDR. Jeff and Mark 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 Jason Lueke, Ph.D., P.Eng., M.ASCE, from Associated Engineering, and Chris Macey, P.Eng., M.ASCE, from AECOM, as Advisors to the Technical Co-chairs; Erin McGuire, P.E., M. ASCE, from CDM Smith as the Education Chair: Steve Ford, from Garney Construction as 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 sponsors were Mid America Pipe Fabricating, and Structural Technologies. Gold sponsors were AECOM, American Ductile Iron Pipe, Garney Construction, Mueller, Northwest Pipe, and Pure Technologies a Xylem Brand. Corporate sponsors were Geico, Pearl Insurance, and UPS. Silver sponsors were Carollo, HDR, Hobas, Jacobs, Kiewit, and SAK. Bronze sponsors were American Concrete Pressure Pipe Association, Black & Veatch, Burns McDonnell, Cardno, Ferguson Waterworks, McMillen Jacobs Associates, National Association of Sewer Service Companies, and Thompson Pipe Group.

The Exhibit Hall at the Pipelines Conference is one of the hallmarks of the event. Enhanced by dedicated breaks when no other conference programming is scheduled, traffic in the hall was high. The hall featured 73 exhibitors showcasing their products and services.

A comprehensive Technical Program of eight tracks was presented over two days. With nearly 90 paper-based and panel sessions planned, 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.

UESI again offered its popular Public Sector and Student Scholarship programs. Close to 70 municipal employees and 9 students participated this year, having been selected from hundreds of applications. More than 100 municipalities were represented at the conference. Public Sector winners had enhanced networking opportunities, and students were each paired with a mentor.

The Pipelines Conference had a special session on Diversity in Engineering. This session featured a guided discussion covering a wide array of topics. Moderated by Anna Pridmore, panelists included Babs Marquis, from McMillen Jacobs Associates; Kristina Swallow, P.E., ENV SP, F. ASCE, Nevada Department of Transportation: Elizabeth Rivera Blackwelder, P.E., ENV SP, from Sustainable Solutions Engineering; Jorge Rodriguez, P.E., from WSSC, and Kylie Pelzer, P.E.

Each year UESI seeks out creative and engaging Keynote speakers. We were pleased to have local Nashville musician Lionel Cartwright present at our Opening Breakfast Plenary. Lionel spoke about how change is a constant in many professions, from the music business to utility engineering. He shared insights on how to navigate these changes. He also played an assortment of his music to the group and had the energetic crowd clapping along.

At the Tuesday Awards Luncheon, we were fortunate to have the dynamic George Hawkins, Ph.D., Esq., as our Keynote Speaker. George, founder of Moonshot Missions, was a transformational leader at DC Water. He gave a well-received talk about how he enacted significant improvements at DC Water and challenged the group to think about creating solutions that are "better, faster, cheaper" in order to meet the public's needs for robust utilities infrastructure.

UESI was proud to celebrate the achievements of its members by presenting several prestigious awards at the Tuesday Awards Luncheon. Samuel Ariaratnam, Ph.D., P.E., P.Eng., FCAE, and John Segna, P.E., BCEE, F.ASCE, were recipients of the 2019 Pipeline Division Award of Excellence. Graham E.C. Bell, P.E., M.ASCE, was the recipient of the 2019 Stephen D. Bechtel Pipeline Engineering Award.

Our special evening event took place at the Wild Horse Saloon, deep in Nashville's vibrant downtown music district. The entire 2 nd floor of the venue was filled with conference attendees having fun. In addition to delicious food and drink, there were pool tables, foosball, and shuffleboard. Many took the opportunity to learn to line dance and show their moves on the dance floor.

Unfortunately, many of us returned from the Wild Horse to find that the hotel was undergoing a utility interruption. Thankfully, the Pipelines Conference attendees are a resilient bunch, in spite of the unresolved power and water issues on Wednesday, many powered through and took the opportunity to network with their peers. Many reported that some interactions would not have taken place if the sessions had not been canceled. While the day did not turn out as intended, we commend those attendees that make the best use of their time.

On Wednesday, the Top Golf recreational activity and the Technical tours to the Omohundro Water Treatment Plant and 8 th Avenue Reservoir, and the West Park Equalization Facility went on as planned and were enjoyed by those who participated.

Planning has already begun for the UESI Pipelines 2020 Conference, August 9-12, 2020, in San Antonio, TX. We appreciate your continued support and hope to see you next year. Please visit the UESI Pipelines 2020 Conference site for more information.