By Andrew Aho
By all accounts, the Geosynthetics 2013 conference in Long Beach April 1–4 was a rousing success—more technical papers, more attendees, and more exhibitors.
GMA was excited to be a co-organizer of this conference working with staff members from the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) and especially with the conference chairs, Bob Holtz and Sam Allen—a total team effort that created many successes at this event.
The theme of the conference “Geosynthetics for Water and Energy Challenges” landed in a sweet spot for GMA members, their products, and their solutions.
The co-location of the Southwest Geotechnical Engineers Conference brought a group of geotechs to the show, many who had never attended a geosynthetic conference, and they were introduced to the technologies of our industry. The conference was also co-located with the GRI-25 Conference. Bob and George Koerner put on an interesting and fun event that established a benchmark and history of 25 years of the geosynthetic industry.
The technical sessions were excellent with more than 140 technical papers delivered covering a wide range of geosynthetic subjects from MSE structures to geosynthetics in levees and dams to transportation and containment. There were sessions for the most technical geo-intellectuals as well as some sessions about the basic applications for those just getting to know the geosynthetics industry. Shobah Bhatia and Stan Boyle served as excellent co-chairs of the conference technical committee.
The conference opened with a plenary session on water resources delivered by Jerry Yudelson of Yudelson Associates. His address was a call out to the industry to be ready for what he said was a “water supply crisis in the U.S.”
Geosynthetic solutions and the shale gas fracking boom was a second plenary session, presented by a panel that included Bob Koerner from the Geosynthetic Institute, Carla Suszkowski with Atlas Energy, and Don Siegel from Syracuse University.
Mark Smith of RRD International was the third plenary speaker. He shared his experiences and expertise of working with geosynthetic solutions in the mining industry.
The show floor at the conference was buzzing with activities with more than 125 companies displaying their geosynthetic products, applications and services. Ten companies introduced new products at the show floor’s Innovation Theater.
GMA hosted a meeting with a delegation of a dozen Chinese companies representing various sectors of the geosynthetics industry in China (i.e., manufacturers, university professionals, and association leaders).Â This meeting, the first of its kind, was organized by GMA and CTAG (Chinese Technical Association on Geosynthetics) and information was exchanged about the geosynthetic industry and its applications in the U.S. and China.
The highlight of the show for GMA was the presentation of the Friends of the Industry awards. GMA recognized three individuals with careers that have had a positive impact on the growth of the industry. Receiving the awards were:
- Paul W. Barker, Agru America, has had a long and distinguished career of five decades helping to grow the geosynthetics industry from small beginnings to the large sophisticated field that it is today.
- Philip D. Egan, P.E., from Gainesville, Ga., for his more than 40 years of experience in the fields of geotechnical engineering and geosynthetics.Â Egan served for 20 years as president or president/CEO of Tensar and 13 years as vice president of The Reinforced Earth Company.
- Richard Thiel , P.E., G.E., M.ASCE of Thiel Engineering, Oregon House, Calif., for his exemplary work in geotechnical and solid-waste engineering.
GMA genuinely thanks these individuals for their many contribution to the geosynthetics industry.
The conference closed with a full day of well-attended short courses organized by Dave Suits of the North American Geosynthetics Society (NAGS).
GMA would also like to thank the companies that offered great sponsorships during the conference: TenCate Geosynthetics, TMP Geosynthetics, TRI Environmental, Layfield Environmental, and Agru America.
GMA is looking forward to the Geosynthetics 2015 conference that will build on the success of the Long Beach event. We are especially excited to be co-locating with the International Erosion Control Association (IECA). Geosynthetics 2015 will be held February 15–18 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Ore. Mark the dates on your calendar today and we look forward to seeing you there.