I was privileged to be a part of the Geosynthetics 2019 Conference held in Houston, Texas February 10 through February 13, 2019.
It is always great to catch up with industry colleagues and learn about the latest and greatest developments within the industry as well as the vast lessons learned. The conference truly had a wealth of knowledge transfer! If you did not have a chance to attend, I urge you to download the conference proceedings. There were many exciting moments at Geosynthetics 2019 – too many to share in a short blog, so I will share with you my top three highlights.
To me, the most exciting and fun takeaway from Geosynthetics 2019 was the crowd interaction during the inaugural GeoGames event. Held on the evening of February 12th, GeoGames 2019 featured a welding competition complete with Quality Assurance (QA), Judging, and a huge trophy awarded to the winning team. During the competition, many crowd members asked questions about what they were seeing and why it was relevant – many people walked away with a better understanding of what takes place in the field and how difficult some of these installation activities really are.
(Click on the images to see them full size.)
Much of the crowd withstood a cool wind for over two hours while three teams battled it out well after sunset completing a panel layout with a fusion welding competition complete with air pressure testing and seam destructive samples, an extrusion welding competition complete with destructive samples, and a pipe boot competition complete with vacuum testing the entire pipe boot at once. In a very tight (and very serious competition), FC Liners prevailed over Hallaton and Comanco and proudly hoisted the trophy.
While FC Liners won the trophy, everyone participating in the events had the general consensus that the industry was ultimately the real winner (not to take anything away from FC Liners) through this event because it was ultimately a showcase for those attending to have an opportunity to witness something many had not seen before. A huge thank you to everyone who worked on putting these games together, the sponsorships, event participants (teams, judges, QA personnel, supporting cast, and all those in attendance)! We look forward to being a part of this event again in the near future!
Second on my list was Hull & Associates. Inc. receiving the Fabricated Geomembrane Institute’s Engineering Innovation Award. I began my career at Hull & Associates and the many experiences I had at Hull shaped my career – none more than hearing a heated conversation between President John Hull and an angry landfill manager regarding a construction project Hull was certifying through construction quality assurance. At some point in the conversation, I heard John Hull tell the landfill manager that the work would be done John’s way or John was not going to certify it. There would be no cutting of corners. His willingness to take a bold stand with his client and place his values over money struck a deep cord of respect within me.
I have tried to employ that very principle throughout my entire career. Hull has continued to be a firm I deeply respect and it was an honor to publicly celebrate some of their outstanding work. I had the honor of accepting the award on behalf of Hull & Associates (Hull), a sentimental moment for me.
Lastly on the list of my top three highlights were the technical presentations and the roundtable and panel discussions.
I want to congratulate and thank all who submitted professional papers and participated in the technical discussions. I also want to acknowledge their efforts in preparation for the conference. Writing abstracts and papers, followed by rounds of editing and creating PowerPoints, usually late at night after the day’s business has settled for the moment — it can be exhausting. So, why research and write them?
Because it matters. Greatly.
Plato said it well “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Our industry is no different! We need to evaluate our practices, our successes and our failures and then we need to have the intellectual fights that change requires. If we are not learning and growing, we are dying as an industry whether we know it or not. The next generation coming behind us needs the growth that our examined experiences can provide. If we go through all of the struggles we face as engineers, installers, regulatory agents, CQA techs and manufacturers without evaluating ourselves and our industry and thus fail to pass forward our lessons learned, what kind of legacy have we left?
I had the privilege of presenting two research papers: Destructive Sampling Strategies – Interface Matters and Weld Integrity – Moving Beyond Peel and Shear.
After a day of speaking, I found myself sitting in a hotel mentally reviewing the day’s work and in that moment found my reward. A soul satisfying peace, that today I did my part to help raise the industry tide. And that peace is enjoyed for a least a few minutes before I start thinking about the next hill to climb…