ASCE 2016 National Convention
By Nick Golon (ASCE NH Treasurer)
Portland Oregon, aka City of Roses, aka Rip City, aka Little Beirut, aka Bridgetown... These affectionate nicknames all carry meaning to the largest City in Oregon, located at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, but of these monikers this engineer paid witness to the truth in advertising of Bridgetown. The bridge crossings of the Willamette River, which winds its way through the city perhaps better known for rain, hipsters and coffee, painted a spectacular backdrop for the 2016 ASCE Nation Convention, and the unique tour of these bridges via the Portland Spirit Explorer provided me my first opportunity to see this first hand.
Traveling from the St. John’s to the Sellwood Bridge we enjoyed the colorful history of Portland’s ten landmark crossings as ably narrated by Ed and Sharon Wortman, well known local authors and bridge aficionados. The jewel of the trip, the new Tilikum Crossing “Bridge of the People”, did not disappoint. The first cable-stayed bridge in the United States intended solely for mass transit vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians, the 1,720-foot-long bridge with its 180-foot-tall pentagonal shaped towers provided a sleek profile reminiscent of another cable-stay bridge more local to my origins in the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge in Boston, Massachusetts. This tour and others provided the participants of the National Conference a great kick-off to what would be a very memorable conference.
The ASCE 2016 Convention started in earnest Wednesday night with the opening reception and rough-cut screening of Dream Big: Engineering Our World, ASCE’s giant-screen film about engineering. The film took the audience on a journey of discovery from the world’s tallest building to a bridge higher than the clouds, showcasing what engineers do and why they make our lives safer. The film’s official premiere will be during Engineer’s Week, February 2017, so check your local theater and museum listings.
The following day the keynote address, supplied by Frans Johansson, Entrepreneur, author, and overall really cool guy, electrified what was otherwise a less than energized crowd that may have missed its morning coffee. His use of visual aids and creative combination of humor and inspiration had the crowd ready to take on the world’s most difficult engineering challenges. Termites and architecture, candy and computers, ice and sleeping beds? His juxtaposition of two opposing elements coming together to create exponential results powered his message of how diversity drives innovation and provides the opportunity for us to break new ground.
Concurrent sessions continued throughout the convention discussing technical aspects of various projects around the globe, strategic and public policy, and the state of the industry and profession. One of my personal favorites was the USACE $10.7 billion (you read that correctly, billion) Korea Relocation Program. This ongoing construction mega-project proposes a 300% expansion of US Army Garrison Camp Humphreys, transforming the garrison into the largest Military Installation in Korea, resulting in the addition of more than 600 new facilities, 17.6M cm of engineered fill, and 592 miles of underground utilities. The project signifies the largest project in the history of the Department of Defense.
A tremendous thank you to the City of Portland Oregon and ASCE National for putting on a fantastic convention! I enjoyed the opportunity to connect with friends from previous conventions, make a few new friends, and enjoy the sights, sounds, food and drink of an exceptional City!