Ars Sine Scientia Nihil Est
by José M. Izquierdo-Encarnación
I would like to start by thanking the almighty God for the great privilege of being ACI President. I also thank my family, especially my wife Ida and my parents who have always supported me during my entire ACI journey. I accept this new challenge in the name of all ACI members who have worked together over the years, taking time away from their personal interests and, most of all, from their families, to serve ACI well. I cherish this moment with all of ACI's visionary founders, generous of spirit, who gave birth to ACI and served as role models for all the generations that followed. I also send my appreciation to the ACI staff for their commitment to the Institute and for their support of the members.
My life with ACI has been a special one. Whenever I attend an ACI Convention, everywhere you look-sessions, committee meetings, breakouts, or in the hallways-you find extraordinary people who are honest, hard working, and committed. That's what I have found ACI is all about. One thing is certain; at the end of my life when I look back, this moment is going to be one of the most precious ones.
As most of you know, I am from Puerto Rico, the beautiful island in the Caribbean. I am the second ACI President from Puerto Rico. Ignacio Martín, adoptive son of our island, was ACI President back in 1984 and, later on, tutored me as I became more involved in ACI. My election as ACI President is distinct for two reasons: on one side, my being Latin and also a U.S. citizen represents a transition of the ACI leadership in terms of ACI's international agenda; on the other hand, it is something very special for Puerto Rico as a country.
Roberto Clemente, the famous Puerto Rican Major League Baseball player, used to say that he was convinced that every time he made a great play, he helped Puerto Rico to move forward. And, all my life I have worked, convinced that Roberto was right. Therefore, this year I will work even harder for ACI, because in doing so, not only will I help the Institute reach its goals, but it will also help Puerto Rico in the quest to fulfill its aspiration as a people.
For the past 6 years, I have been active on the ACI Board of Direction and have worked with several Board task groups. This has given me the opportunity to learn from several ACI Presidents the kind of leadership needed. I envision a stronger push for ACI to become more active in the concrete industry as a whole. ACI is the source of knowledge of the industry and yet sometimes we seem to work without interaction with that same industry. I propose that we work on the following agenda:
- Assist TAC to attract more technical volunteers to participate in the committee activities in those areas that are lacking participation. We must develop a recruitment program for TAC and at the same time use the recruitment process to bring in additional international knowledge;
- Build on the efforts of Past President Jim Jirsa to make ACI truly an international organization. We must establish precise goals for each world region;
- Work with Past President Dan Baker as he moves forward with his ACI Student Fellowship Program, making it a Centennial activity to fulfill our goals for this extraordinary program; and
- Reach out within the concrete industry, as it is broadly defined, to bring additional participation into ACI. I propose starting this by establishing formal relations with AGC, AIA, and other appropriate groups.
To achieve these goals, we must look to our roots: progress through knowledge. By studying ACI's Strategic Plan, I have concluded that the five main goals of the Institute- Knowledge Generation, Knowledge Promulgation, Knowledge Community, Competent Workforce, and Member Value-are all incorporated in progress though knowledge. Or as Mignot, a French builder and scientist from the fourteenth century, said to the builders of the Milan Cathedral after finding 54 construction deficiencies: "Ars sine scientia nihil est." This means that the art (ars) of construction without (sine) science (scientia) is nothing. Or in more modern words: practice is nothing without theory.
Mignot provides us a strong message and spirit for the next century of ACI: we must remain steadfast in developing the theory, the knowledge, to further evolve the art of concrete construction.
José M. Izquierdo-Encarnación, President
American Concrete Institute