Always A Need For Education

I was pleasantly surprised recently when the annual American Society of Civil Engineers’ Pipeline Conference experienced strong attendance.

With the state of the economy and many cities and consulting engineering firms limiting travel, it was impressive to see such a large crowd show up for the event. Of course, San Diego is a great venue and the conference committee developed a strong program.

Underground Construction was the media partner for the ASCE Pipelines Conference and for the upcoming Western Regional No-Dig Conference Sept. 10-11 in Waikiki Beach, Oahu. Just like the ASCE event, it looks like the Western No-Dig will have a very strong show – maybe even a record! The lesson here is that quality education in a great venue is still effective, efficient and very much needed by industry, while networking with peers continues to provide valuable insight.

At UCT and Underground Construction, our educational mission continues this fall and winter. First, we’re once again proud to be presenting the underground sessions at the bi-annual ICUEE show in Louisville, KY, a key event primarily for the telecom, electric and gas markets. We’ll start with a pre-conference Advanced HDD Workshop, suitable for owners, engineers and contractors on Oct. 5, and follow that with10 underground session as part of the regular ICUEE program Oct. 6 – 8.

And, if you haven’t had a chance yet, check out the recently released educational program for UCT 2010 – Tampa. Complete details and registration information are available at and coming soon in a printed brochure.

We’re very excited about going to Tampa – primarily because of the interest already generated from both multitudes of Florida residents and people across the country. Tampa is an economical site for travel and has easy access by both airplane and highway. It is a very friendly and inviting city with much to keep people busy. The convention center is a first-class meeting and exhibit facility, and the host hotels (located just across the street) are extraordinary.

The educational program promises to be our best yet. We had a record-number of program ideas and abstracts submitted. The UCT Educational Program will include its stalwart tracks: introduction to sewer & water trenchless rehabilitation; sewer construction and rehab; pipebursting; horizontal directional drilling; underground utilities; trenchless technical symposium; and WaterWorks.

There also will be new program tracks reflecting growing industry needs and interest: storm water pipe renewal/rehabilitation; force mains & pressure pipe; manhole renewal/rehabilitation; and a special Damage Prevention & Safety Conference

The UCT Special Programs round out an unparalleled underground utilities construction and rehabilitation program. An enhanced and updated one-day Sewer Rehabilitation Strategy Workshop (always popular and usually a sell-out!) will headline an outstanding line-up of 12 programs providing specific, focused information. These special programs/workshops are made possible through our partnerships with NASTT, NASSCO, CUIRE and Staking University – the best of the best.

More economics
From my perspective, perhaps most notable at the ASCE Pipelines Conference was that city and consulting engineers were not espousing the doom and gloom philosophy that has gripped the world for many months. That their attitudes were upbeat would be a stretch. But a fairly confident crowd indicated that things weren’t as bad as most had feared earlier in the year, work is indeed progressing in the public works sector (albeit at a slower pace than the last couple of years) and, in fact, the fourth quarter of 2009 and first quarter of 2010 should show marked improvement. Also, though the sewer/water rehabilitation markets certainly have softened in some parts of the country, overall, that market segment is holding its own.

Along those lines, I was amused at a recent report from a major Wall Street consulting firm. Turns out they, along with the Federal Government, had misjudged how fast the impact of the economic stimulus package would be felt. Though they are still projecting a significant positive impact, they now don’t expect that to happen before the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2010. Nice to know “experts” agree with what us pundits and virtually most of our industry has known for six months.

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