ACI International - A Very Appropriate Name!
by Richard N. White
As I write this memo on September 7, I'm preparing to leave tomorrow for an international trip representing the American Concrete Institute, now often referred to as ACI International. Myself; Bill Tolley, ACI's senior managing director of operations and services; and Dick Stehly, ACI's Chapter Activities Committee chairman from Minneapolis, are traveling to the Middle East to present seminars and share information and technology with officers and members of ACI local chapters in five countries - Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait — plus a stop in Poland to sign an Affiliated International Society (AIS) agreement with a group of engineers and researchers in Warsaw. This trip is but one small measure of the strong presence of ACI in the international world of concrete. Thus, it is a pleasure to devote this month's memo to a discussion of international issues and to ACI's ever-increasing role in the international scene.
Some indication of the truly global aspects of concrete construction, and where we as a country fit into the picture, comes from a letter I recently received from our good friend and long-time ACI member, Dr. Gunnar Idorn from Denmark. He points out the magnitude of the concrete-related industry in countries other than the United States, and how it would be to our advantage to be more aware of what's going on in the rest of the world, including the opportunities for engineering and construction work abroad. Gunnar points out that the U.S. produces about 70 million tons of cement per year, which is about 1/20 of the 1300 tons (and rising) produced by the rest of the world. In the 1997 survey by Business Week of the "Global 1000," in which the U.S. has nearly 50 percent of the total market value of the business world, we (the concrete and construction industry) fare less well in terms of major large companies, with one building materials and components company, and one construction and housing company, as compared with eight and one companies in Western Europe and four and seven in Japan, respectively, included in the survey.
Now, back to the issues directly involving ACI. We deeply value the continuing ACI membership of so many individuals outside North America - now about 18 percent of ACI membership with the largest contingents of members from Japan, Saudi Arabia, England, and India. We have ACI local chapters in 26 countries, including six chapters in Canada and three in Central America. The full listing of local chapters was published in the September 1997 issue of Concrete International, pp. 74-78. If you didn't see this when the magazine arrived in early September, I suggest you take a look now and see for yourself how widely ACI local chapters are distributed around the world. These chapters are a vital and proud part of ACI, operating at many different levels of activity, including a sharply-increasing involvement in ACI certification activities. It is also significant that nine of our 13 ACI student chapters are from outside the U.S. I might pose the question as to why foreign students seem to be more interested in ACI than our own U.S. students? Or perhaps it's due to the energies of the chapter faculty advisers.
Another major ACI presence is found in our Affiliated International Societies. This program, started in 1994, provides strong links between ACI and recognized concrete-related societies in other countries. We enjoy this special two-way status with societies in Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Chile, South Africa, and, now, in Poland.
ACI has a very strong position of leadership in organizing and sponsoring (or cosponsoring) international conferences. In recent years, we've sponsored an ACI international conference every three years - the next one is in early December 1997 in Kuala Lumpur on the dual topics of "High Performance Concrete: Design and Materials" and "Recent Advances in Concrete Technology." This conference was developed by ACI's International Conference Executive Steering Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. V. Mohan Malhotra from Ottawa, and features more than 70 papers by authors from 23 countries. The ten U.S. authors are indeed fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in this international conference, which will be followed by another in the year 2000. The impact of all the international conferences done with ACI involvement, and the associated high-quality and timely proceedings, has been immense in terms of building lines of communication between engineers and researchers from around the world and in the dissemination of new technology.
ACI enjoys a strong track record in terms of publishing journal papers, Concrete International articles, and special publications and conference proceedings produced by our foreign members and colleagues. In 1996, Concrete International had 19 percent of its articles from overseas contributors, while the percentage of overseas papers in the Structural Journal and Materials Journal were 24 and 40 percent, respectively.
In conclusion, I cannot stress too strongly that ACI's primary goal is to help bring about Better Constructed Facilities, both at home and abroad, and it will take the best efforts of all of us working together to develop and share those new technologies, methods, and techniques needed to make this goal come true.
Address: Hollister Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y., 14853; e-mail: RNW3@Cornell.edu; FAX: (607) 255-4828; telephone: (607) 255-6497.
Richard N. White
American Concrete Institute