Regional Conference Balances Policy With Technology

By Traci Read, Senior Editor | May 2011, Vol. 66 No. 5

The Center for Innovative Grouting Materials and Technology (CIGMAT) and the University of Houston’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering held its 16th annual conference and exhibition in Houston, TX, at the University Hilton, University of Houston campus on March 4.

More than 300 participants and 14 speakers attended the one-day conference, which focused on “Construction, Maintenance, Geotechnical, and Flooding Issues in Houston & Other Major Cities.”

“CIGMAT always puts together an interesting and informative group of speakers,” said Tommy Mazingo, P.E., Mazingo Engineering Inc. “The attendees are a nice mix of owners, engineers, contractors, suppliers and academia. This format provides a unique networking opportunity that is hard to find in a local one-day conference. I believe this is the best one-day conference I have attended.”

Dr. Cumaraswamy Vipulanandan, chairman and professor, director of CIGMAT and Texas Hurricane Center for Innovative Technology (THC-IT) opened the conference with initial remarks about the need for such a conference, especially during these challenging times and advances in technologies. The general session focused on public works, highway transportation issues and the impact of light rail transport in the Houston area. Plans for maintaining and expanding city of Houston water and wastewater facilities and issues related to the user fee increase for the coming years also were discussed. Among the speakers in the morning session were Daniel Krueger, director, public works, city of Houston; Delvin Dennis, district engineer for Houston, TxDOT; and David Couch, senior vice president of Capital Program, METRO, Houston, TX.

One of four technical sessions included a panel discussion on the "Management of Major Water and Wastewater Systems.” Ravi Kaleyatodi, senior assistant director, city of Houston, discussed some of the challenges and plans in the water and wastewater systems. Hamlet Hovsepian, assistant director, city of Houston, and Rafael Ortega, vice president Lockwood, Andrew and Newnam, jointly presented some of the technical challenges with the Houston’s North East Transmission Pipeline. In addition, Frank Aguilar, manager, Avanti International, presented cases studies on chemical grout applications.

Balanced event
Ortega, a regular attendee and an invited speaker to this year’s CIGMAT, commented: “CIGMAT offers the perfect balance between policy discussion and review of current and relevant technical issues. In my opinion, the conference is one of the most valuable regional conferences to attend.”

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