By Ron Bygness
The Professor Training Course for Geosynthetics (aka, Educate the Educators) was a successful educational effort that ran for one week each summer, 1994–1998, at Auburn University in Alabama under the direction of Prof. Dave Elton. A reinvigorated plan to launch a 21st century version of this course is gaining momentum, thanks primarily to the cooperative efforts of several geosynthetics entities.
In his President’s Corner column, IGS President Jorge Zornberg wrote: “After more than 15 years since the excellent experience [at Auburn] … the International Geosynthetics Society (IGS) is not alone in recognizing this important need. Indeed, the Geosynthetic Institute (GSI), with its major educational arsenal on geosynthetics, and the Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA), with its capability of mobilizing the geosynthetics industry, are equally engaged in promoting basic geosynthetic education. The opportunity exists for significant synergism in this effort.”
Now check out Bob Koerner’s GSI column on page 57: “… it should be noted that a North American ‘Educate the Educators’ program is tentatively set for the summer of 2015. The North American Geosynthetics Society (NAGS) will be the convening authority while GMA and IFAI will serve as channels for grant applications to support the effort.” (GMA is a division of IFAI—the Industrial Fabrics Association International. Geosynthetics magazine also resides under the IFAI umbrella.)
GMA’s division supervisor, Lucie Passus, also chimed in: “As part of its mission to provide a forum for consistent and accurate information to increase the acceptance and promote the correct use of geosynthetics, GMA is excited help bring back the Educate the Educators program. GMA remains committed to geosynthetics educational outreach efforts and will work cooperatively to successfully launch this program in summer 2015.”
So finally I checked in with Prof. Elton to get his thoughts: “The new effort to reconvene the Professor Training Course for Geosynthetics is very encouraging. Geosynthetics technology has advanced tremendously since the 1990s. The new course will provide a great springboard for new professors to introduce geosynthetics in their courses, and to provide needed updates for previous attendees.”
For those interested in participating—as a student or a teacher—plan to attend the Educate the Educator panel discussion at the Geosynthetics 2015 Conference Feb. 15–18, 2015, in Portland, Ore.