ASCE International Pipelines & Trenchless Technology Conference Held in Shanghai

The American Society of Civil Engineers Pipeline Division recently made major strides into the global market on Oct. 19-21 when it sponsored the first International Conference of Pipeline and Trenchless Technology (ICPTT) at the Regal International East Asia Hotel in Shanghai, China.

The Pipeline Division joined with the China Society for Trenchless Technology, China U.S. Joint Center for Trenchless Research & Development (CTRD), and the Center for Underground Infrastructure Research & Education (CUIRE), under a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), to provide a world forum for 80 oral presentations and poster discussions of 227 papers published in the ICPTT Proceedings. The conference theme was “Advances and Experiences with Pipelines and Trenchless Technology for Water, Sewer, Gas and Oil Applications.” This conference was a resounding success with more than 350 participants and over $7 million in business transactions at this first-ever event in China.

Pictured, left to right are: four students attending and presenting at conference, including Diego Caldron and Smith Rangel from UT Arlington and Olga Lucia from IUPUI; Dr. Baosong Ma, China University of Geosciences - Wuhan and vice director of China-U.S. Joint Center for Trenchless Research & Development; Professor Ding Zhenguo, vice president of China University of Geosciences; Professor A-gen Zhang, chairman of Geological Society of Shanghai ; current past ASCE Pipeline Division Chairman Dr. Mohammad Nafaji, director of the Center for Underground Infrastructure Research & Education at University of Texas at Arlington; former Pipeline Division Chairman Michael T. Stift, director of engineering at the San Diego County Water Authority; Dr. Tom Iseley, IUPUI-Purdue School of Engineering & Technology; Dr. Samuel Ariaratnam, Arizona State University; Dr. Alan Atalah, Bowling Green State University; and Dr. Qingfen Bao, vice dean of college of engineering, China University of Geosciences-Wuhan.

The Pipeline Division’s vision is to become the organization that is the world leader for excellence in water, wastewater, oil, gas, and solid pipeline engineering. While the Pipeline Division’s U.S. annual conference, generally held between July and September, has had international attendance, with many pipeline services and manufacturers within and outside the United States exhibiting, the emphasis in recent years has primarily been related to water infrastructure. The Division has been looking for a venue to bring the oil, gas and the freight pipeline industry back to the Pipeline Division. The ICPTT was just that venue.

This collaboration began approximately three years ago when Dr. Baosong Ma, a professor at the China University of Geosciences – Wuhan and Vice Director of China U.S. Joint Center for Trenchless Research & Development (CTRD), presented a proposal to the Pipeline Division to sponsor such a conference. This effort was a result of Chinese participation in past annual Pipeline Division conference technical programs with their supporting educational and social activities. The Chinese delegation felt this was a good model to emulate for ICPTT and wanted to collaborate with the ASCE Pipeline Division to create a pipeline and trenchless technology conference in China.

Dr. Tom Iseley of IUPUI Purdue School of Engineering & Technology and Michael Stift, director of engineering at the San Diego County Water Authority, both former Pipeline Division chairs, and the Pipeline Division’s current past chair, Dr. Mohammed Najafi of the University of Texas at Arlington and director of CUIRE, volunteered efforts to support this event with their Chinese counterpart. Ma and Najafi organized the conference and were ICPTT technical program coordinators.

Stift and Ma hosted the opening of ICPTT and the 41 exhibitors. “A friendship and collaboration was realized between the Chinese hosting organizations and the ASCE Pipeline Division. The Division had similar beginnings to ICPTT and now has conferences every year. Through the dedication of our volunteers on seven technical committees, the Pipeline Division has published 47 manuals of professional practice on various aspects of pipeline engineering available through the ASCE website,” said Najafi in his welcome presentation.

Najafi also introduced the launch of the Pipeline Division’s new quarterly Journal of Pipeline Systems (JPS) in early 2010 and requested submission of possible Journal papers from ICPTT participants. It is expected that ICPTT 2009 will be the start of a long term relationship between ASCE Pipeline Division and the Chinese organizations, said Najafi.

The highlight of the Plenary Session was a presentation by Professor Shi Xingquan, former vice president of China Petroleum Company and general director of the first 2,500 miles West East Natural Gas Transmission Project that was completed in 2008, along with a presentation by Dr. Iseley on Trenchless Technology: Tools for Achieving Underground Infrastructure Management Excellence. Professor Xingquan talked about the difficulties, challenges, achievements and experiences from the first and second unique West East Natural Gas Transmission Projects. Dr. Iseley gave an overview of the methods, equipment and materials utilized to install new or renew/repair existing underground utility/communication systems that minimize disruptions and destruction to society and/or the environment by minimizing open excavation.

The technical program was a balance of pipeline oil/gas and water/sewer related scientific and practice presentations focusing on asset management, geographic information systems, corrosion analysis, planning, design, and construction, hazard inspection, inspection and risk management. “The evolution of trenchless products, processes, projects and critical infrastructure issues were a highlight of the many speakers” said Najafi.

“Networking in one place with peers from all over the world in Shanghai, where the number of construction cranes seems to outweigh those in the rest of the world, was fantastic for business marketing and project outreach, as well as keeping up with cutting edge technical advances,” added Stift.

All-around success
Ma was especially pleased with the success of the conference social program, Shanghai Nights. The daily focus was on the technical programs and business, so the early evening cruise on the Captain’s Ferry along the Pujiang River featuring Chinese folk music, set to the brilliantly lighted Shanghai skyline, was just an awe-inspiring break. “The ICPTT allowed the pipeline and trenchless industries to see how forward thinking China is and the rate of growth the country is experiencing as we move forward to a better quality of life,” said Ma.

The conference started on Oct. 19, with two technical workshops consisting of two sessions; one on New Pipeline and Trenchless Technology Advances and the second on Pipeline Rehabilitation. More than 150 pipeline professionals from all over the world attended these workshops to hear a number of instructors present on these two important topics. Before and after the conference, ASCE Pipeline Division delegates visited two leading manufacturers of HDD drills in China, Drillto and Gudeng, and also the Shanghai Letong Pipeline Engineering Co. Ltd. The visitors were all very impressed on these companies’ rapid development, high quality products and services.

ICPTT Proceedings were published through the ASCE Publications and are available from ASCE Pipeline Division Website at

With the success of this first ICPTT, planning has already begun for a second conference to be held in two years in either Beijing or Shanghai. Ma said “A proposal to collaborate on a 2011 conference in China with the Pipeline Division is in the works due to the highly successful 2009 ICPTT. All our projections were exceeded and we can only thank the ASCE Pipeline Division for their help and participation. Now we will grow the ICPTT from this first conference and look forward to future ventures together with our friends in the ASCE Pipeline Division.”

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