CIGMAT Informs, Grows In 09

The Center for Innovative Grouting Materials and Technology (CIGMAT) and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering hosted a one-day conference and exhibition on “Construction, Geotechnical and Flooding Issues in Houston & Other Major Cities” at the University of Houston on March 6.

CIGMAT has grown in attendance to more than 350 people in its 14th year. Attendees represented owners, consulting engineers, material suppliers, contractors and academia who came from many parts of the U.S.

“CIGMAT is a good conference to attend because there is a cross section of people from civil engineers and city municipalities,” said Steve Henning, AP/M Permaform. “You’ll also see industry personnel from TxDOT and other agencies such as buried pipe and buried assets. It’s a good meeting ground for the engineering community.”

After opening remarks by Dr. C. Vipulanandan, chairman and professor, director of CIGMAT and Texas Hurricane Center for Innovative Technology (THC-IT), the general session focused on public works, transportation issues and the impact of the stimulus package in the region. Plans for maintaining and expanding the city of Houston’s water and wastewater facilities and funding highway projects in the region for years 2009-10 were discussed, along with the challenges in maintaining civil infrastructure and navigation channels in the Gulf Coast region by the USACE. Among the speakers in the morning session were Michael S. Marcotte, director of Public Works, city of Houston; Delvin Dennis, district engineer, TxDOT; and Peter Perez, chief engineer, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers – Galveston.

A regular attendee and invited speaker to this year’s CIGMAT, Gary Oradat, executive director, Coastal Water Authority, observed: “CIGMAT has certainly grown over the years. When Dr. Vipu started the conference years ago, it focused more on what types of materials could aid municipalities and how they could benefit from them. However, now CIGMAT has grown to be more of an information exchange and technical briefing for the greater Houston area. They’ve done a good job of keeping it interesting and fresh, bringing in good speakers and addressing a variety of topics. I expect that to continue.”

“I really look forward to CIGMAT because of the level of people who attend the conference – people like Mike Marcotte and the directors of TxDOT – these are the big guys in our business,” commented Sherman Irish, Uretek ICR. “You can count on seeing the people in our business you need to see at this conference. Every year it grows, and I don’t see it doing anything else but continue. This conference is on everyone’s calendar.”

Four technical sessions were held with invited speakers from around the country. The first panel discussion was on the “Asset Management of Water and Wastewater Systems in Major Cities.” Brandon E. Wade, assistant city manager, director of Public Works, city of Galveston, TX, discussed the “Challenges and Issues After Hurricane in Galveston.” Lisa Lattu, supervising engineer, city of Houston, discussed the “Planning and Hydraulic Modeling of City of Houston Drinking Water.” Ravi Kaleyatodi, assistant director, city of Houston, talked about the “City of Houston’s Approach for Maintaining Large Diameter Sewers.”

The second panel discussion was on “Hurricane Issues and Geotechnical Issues” with a focus on power grids and water utilities performance during Hurricane IKE and a mega crane lift project undertaken by an oil company. Douglas White, emergency management coordinator, CenterPoint Energy, discussed the “Power Issues and Challenges after Hurricane IKE.” Gary Oradat, executive director, Coastal Water Authority, discussed the “Power Grid and Water.” Kenneth Tand, Kenneth Tand and Associates; Ken Dessert, Jacobs Engineering; and Morris Parrott, British Petroleum, presented the major issues related to the “Mega Crane Lift Project in Texas City.”

Professor Paul W. Mayne from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, delivered the fourth Mike O’Neill Lecture on “Evaluating Axial Elastic Pile Response from Cone Penetration Tests.” Dr. C. Vipulanandan followed with a presentation on “New Down-Hole Penetrometer (DHP-CIGMAT) for Construction Applications.”

The fourth session presented was on stormwater management and flooding issues related to Houston and coastal Louisiana. The featured speakers were Mike Talbott, director of Harris County Flood Control District; Chris Williams, Office of Coastal Preservation and Restoration Authority, New Orleans, LA; and David Peters, CDM, New Orleans, LA.

A reception was held in the exhibit area displaying posters on research activities at CIGMAT and in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Several grouting, pipe, material supply and wastewater rehabilitation companies participated in the exhibition.

This is the third year that Stavros Koukatsikas, senior project manager-construction for the city of Houston, has attended CIGMAT. “The city of Houston and CIGMAT are working together on different techniques,” he said. “This is the conference I attend to find out the outcomes of what they are working on, and to get more information about what is happening in Houston.”

Samuel Banigo, engineer for public works for the city of Houston, adds that the educational benefits and learning from experienced industry professionals how they resolve issues is a benefit when he returns to the office.

Henning added that, “The papers and presentations presented by the students are very timely. It’s always interesting to see what the University of Houston is doing on the cutting-edge of these technologies.”

Proceedings will be available on the CIGMAT web site at The next CIGMAT conference will be held on March 5, 2010, at the University Hilton, University of Houston.

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