It was a snip of the scissors more than two years in the making.
The new Utility Engineering and Surveying Institute, after months of planning, organizing, and anticipation, officially opened for business Monday morning with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the ASCE Pipelines 2015 Conference in Baltimore.
“We’ve been working on this for every bit of two years,” said UESI’s first president, Randall (Randy) C. Hill, P.E., F.ASCE. “It’s been a labor of love.”
The annual Pipelines Conference was a fitting venue for the unveiling as UESI figures to attract professionals from a variety of fields, including pipelines, geomatics, utilities, and surveying. The goal is for UESI to act as a centralized home for each, including those who participate in the Pipelines Conference each year.
Melanie Rice, P.E., M.ASCE, manager of operations for Southwest Gas in Tuscon, AZ, is among those looking for just such an organization. She joined ASCE as a student at Louisiana Tech University and has been very active in the Arizona Section, Southern Arizona Branch, including a stint as president. As she transitions her career from transportation to natural gas distribution, she is interested in UESI as a tool for learning and sharing new information about utility engineering.
“I think this will be really applicable to an under-represented segment,” Rice said. “It’ll be interesting to get a different perspective from, as well as being involved with, members from around the country or even the world who participate in the Institute.”
Pat Acker, P.E., P.L.S., M.ASCE, vice president at Halff Associates Inc., in Dallas, attended the Pipelines Conference again this year after enjoying the 2014 event in Portland, OR.
“I always learn a lot,” Acker said. “It’s one of the places where you get to hear what’s gone right and, more importantly, what’s gone wrong in other places. It’s good to hear what other people have done.”
Acker has been anticipating the launch of UESI since he first learned of its development. “All of it matches my career perfectly,” Acker said. “I’m hoping to help others.”
Acker is particularly excited about what UESI can do to establish industry standards and manuals of practice, particularly in subsurface utility engineering.
“It’s something that’s way overdue,” Acker said. “There are some protocols that have been developed, but there’s a long way to go. We really need to understand the best way to operate a system.”
To get the word out to Pipelines Conference attendees, UESI sponsored a welcome reception on Aug. 23 and hosted additional question-and-answer sessions on the following days.
UESI is the ninth ASCE technical institute and first new institute since 2008.
Learn more about UESI on its new web pages, also launched during the Pipelines 2015 Conference in Baltimore.