We Are Not Alone: ACI's Role in the Concrete Industry
by José M. Izquierdo-Encarnación
In our last President's Memo, we discussed topics essential to ACI's work over the next decade. With globalization and telecommunications making the world smaller every day, it is the Institute's mission to be an integral part of a worldwide knowledge community made up of equal partners.
This is a very altruistic goal. To attain it, however, ACI must work harder to develop its technical documents in a more wide-reaching manner by working with and incorporating technology developed by other concrete-related societies. Traditionally, over the years, ACI has been creative mainly from the bottom up. Whenever some ACI members had an interest in a concrete-related issue, a technical committee would be formed, and then a document produced. This approach has evolved and served ACI well over the last 100 years, but today's needs require ACI to refine its creativity. We must become more proactive in the role we assume regarding current technological changes and industry trends. As such, we must continue our efforts at rendering our committees more efficient and assure that the technical guidelines we produce do provide the greatest benefit to our industry and its products.
It is easy to understand why. Owners are essentially seeking a quality product. They usually do not care about the intermediate steps that led to it. It is just like buying a car-in the end, most car buyers rarely consider the highly skilled professionals, the manufacturing methods, the advanced materials technology, and the billions in research dollars required to deliver that car. The same can be said for other purchasers of technological products.
What are the products of our industry? They are storage buildings, high-rise apartment complexes, bridges and highways, commercial facilities, shopping centers, and the like. It would be a disservice to our industry's end users if ACI just concentrates on the cement, aggregates, mixture proportions, design, formwork, testing, and the inspection of concrete, yet forgets sometimes what the resulting product is all about. No user wakes up in the morning and says: " I feel good today; I am going out and buy a yard of concrete"-not even a concrete "nerd" (and I am a confessed "nerd"). We at ACI do what we do because it determines the quality of the finished product-the commercial product that economies and societies need.
ACI is the main and most important source of knowledge for the industry. We must therefore assist the quite diverse elements of our complex industry: contractors, architects, academia, government, associations, the international community, and others. We cannot separate what we do as an Institute from their needs. We must consistently work harder to know and understand better the needs of our industry and to develop the necessary relationships. At the same time, we must find an approach that will allow ACI to identify those needs and products and be able to provide the required solutions in a timely manner.
There is always more we can do. We must reach out more, increase our focus on the issues, and enhance our abilities to identify-or create-the instrument within the ACI structure to manage more effectively our efforts in providing what the industry needs.
A good, recent example of this happening is our first International Publication, an extraordinary document of Colombian origin, which follows ACI 318 but limits itself in a simplified way to buildings of a certain size. Thanks to the leadership of ACI Past President James Jirsa, this document was published in record time through a more streamlined process.
While we need to continue to improve the structure of ACI to further enhance the knowledge of concrete required by our industry, the Institute cannot accomplish this fully just by itself. If we are to be truly successful, we must collaborate with all segments of the concrete industry and other related technical associations. One of the goals we are working at is to further help ACI's Technical Activities Committee (TAC) by providing it with additional tools. At TAC's summer meeting, discussion topics will include how to:
- Assist TAC in attracting more qualified volunteers to those of its committees lacking sufficient participation;
- Bring in additional international expertise;
- Make TAC even more effective, particularly in working with its technical committees; and
- Accelerate the redevelopment of our technical specifications.
Please let me know your ideas or recommendations on the subjects discussed here. Your input is essential to ACI...let's do it together!
José M. Izquierdo-Encarnación, President
American Concrete Institute