The City of Atlanta served as an appropriate venue for the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Pipelines 2008 conference, held July 22-25, at the Omni Hotel. Atlanta is the midst of a major water and sewer system overhaul resulting from decades of neglect. Today, however, the City is leading the charge of infrastructure renewal with the full support of Mayor Shirley Franklin, who has made it her goal to transform Atlanta’s sewer and water systems into one of the world’s best. This sentiment was reverberated by mayoral candidate and incumbent City Council president Lisa Borders, who was the keynote speaker for the opening session of the conference.

Titled “Pipeline Asset Management: Maximizing Performance of Our Pipeline Infrastructure,” Pipelines 2008 focused on just that, providing the latest technical information that will help system managers and engineers to maximize their performance and the performance of the systems that they manufacture, design and/or operate. Conference co-chairs Tom Iseley of IUPUI’s Purdue School of Engineering and Technology and Ralph Carpenter of American Cast Iron Pipe Co. reported that, based on initial feedback from attendees, the conference exceeded their expectations.

One of the highlights of the event was a reception sponsored by ASCE Pipelines 2008, where guests attending a National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO) conference (also being held in Atlanta) walked the exhibit floor. The reception provided an ideal setting for exposing elected officials and decision-makers tasked with making long-term decisions affecting underground infrastructure to the products of the industry and to the engineering community that is responsible for building and maintaining these vital systems.

In all, more than 500 registrants participated in the conference, which featured more than 130 technical presentations from recognized experts in the field. Dr. Sanjiv Gokhale, Vanderbilt University, and Shah Rahman, Fibrwrap Construction, served as technical program chairs.

Another highlight of the event was the presentation of the Stephen D. Bechtel Pipeline Engineering Award and the Pipeline Division Award of Excellence. The Bechtel Award is given annually to an ASCE member who has made a definite contribution to the advancement of pipeline engineering, either in research, planning, design or construction.

During the conference, the Bechtel Award was presented to Dr. Mehdi Zarghamee, P.E., in recognition of his nearly 40 years of consulting and academic experience in structural engineering and engineering mechanics. He has been instrumental in developing the AWWA Design Standards (C-304) for pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipes. His research on the behavior of buried pressurized pre-stressed concrete pipelines at bends were published in three papers and led to the development of the computer program TRDP for thrust restraint design of concrete pressure pipe and of the new thrust restraint design procedure incorporated in the AWWA Manual M9 (2007).

The Pipeline Division Award of Excellence is given to a member of the Society for outstanding continuous and conspicuous service to the profession, ASCE and the Pipeline Division. This year’s recipient was Dr. Ahmad Habibian, P.E. He has more than 25 years of experience in underground pipeline infrastructure planning, management, design, construction, evaluation and rehabilitation. His experience has been gained through engineering practice, education and research at the local, national and international levels. He has served in several leadership positions with ASCE, including chair of the Pipelines Division Executive Committee, founding member of the Underground Pipelines Asset Management committee and founding member and chair of the Technical Committee for Trenchless Installation of Pipelines.

Pipelines 2009, titled “Infrastructure’s Hidden Assets,” will be held Aug. 16-19, 2009, in San Diego.

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