In late July, I joined representatives from seven GMA member companies to attend the revived Educate the Educators conference held at the University of Texas in Austin. The purpose of the event was to educate university professors from the United States and around the world on the benefits of geosynthetics in this classroom.
The two-day event July 28–29 focused on the development of both undergraduate and graduate level engineering curriculums that can be integrated into existing engineering course loads or used to create new courses. The event was moderated by GMA’s Executive Council past-chair Boyd Ramsey. The instructors were Barry Christopher (geotechnical consultant), Jorge Zornberg (University of Texas, Austin), and Richard Brachman (Queens University).
Geosynthetics in the classroom is critical to the growth of our industry. Every day, engineers in the field need to make decisions on how to best use our geosynthetic products and it is important that they be properly educated on the applications, benefits, and science behind geosynthetic materials.
In an effort to showcase how geosynthetics are best used in the field, industry experts from GMA member companies presented the benefits and applications of geosynthetic products, including: Daniel Selander (Thrace-LINQ), Fred Chuck and John Henderson (TenCate), Joseph George (Presto), and Lima Schimmel (HUESKER).
In addition to the industry presentations, all attendees had the opportunity to tour TRI’s facility in Austin. TRI vice president, Sam Allen, and his team gave attendees a firsthand look at their testing capabilities, which emphasized the importance of standardized testing in the industry.
The Educate the Educators event, hosted by the North American Geosynthetics Society, was a great opportunity for professors and industry experts to come together to learn about effective ways to implement geosynthetics curriculum in the classroom and then to apply that knowledge to real projects. GMA attendance included: Crown Resources (GMA Executive Council chairman Keith Gardner), TenCate (Fred Chuck and current NAGS president John Henderson), Presto Geosystems (Joseph Goerge and Bryan Wedin), HUESKER (Lima Schimmel and Todd Julian), GSE (Boyd Ramsey and Mauricio Ossa), Thrace-LINQ (Daniel Selander), TRI (Sam Allen); and GMA special guests Mark Welander (Fabricon) and Ron Paratore (Trivantage).
Congress ‘kicks the can’ with transportation funding bill
The U.S. Congress and President Obama decided in July that long-term funding for a transportation bill would have to wait a little bit longer. In late July, Congress approved an $8 billion extension of highway funding through the end of October.
Unfortunately, the lack of funding makes it challenging for state and local officials to plan projects, hire contractors, and invest in construction materials such as geosynthetics. It is important that funding state, local, and federal transportation projects at consistent levels is imperative to allow engineers planning transportation projects the time and resources they need.
Fall Lobby Day 2015
GMA will conduct its next Lobby Day October 28–29. The $8 billion short-term funding for the transportation bill could run out on the 29th. Congress and the president will have to decide if they want to “kick the can” again or get serious about funding our country’s deteriorating transportation infrastructure.
During Lobby Day last April, GMA members participated in 23 meetings on Capitol Hill and transportation funding was a key point of discussion. Members of Congress were very interested about how funding for the bill affects the geosynthetics industry. The discussion about raising the stagnant gasoline tax was at the forefront and is sure to be a point of discussion in October.
“Lobby Day” is a two-day event that is highlighted by a GMA dinner followed by a day of meetings with senators, representatives, and their staff membrs on Capitol Hill. October will be a great time to be in our nation’s capitol and to have the ear of the politicians who make funding decisions that have major impacts on our industry’s growth.
GMA members and prospective members should register now for Fall Lobby Day–2015.