ASCE’s Global Engineering Conference Gets Rolling With Panama Canal Focus, President’s Farewell

October 9, 2014
Jorge L. Quijano, administrator of the Panama Canal Authority gives his keynote address. Photo Credit: David Hathcox

Against the backdrop of the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal, ASCE kicked off its Global Engineering Conference 2014 in Panama City, Panama, in grand style by hearing from Jorge L. Quijano, administrator of the Panama Canal Authority, about the civil engineering challenges involved in the construction of the $5.2 billion Panama Canal Expansion, due to be completed next spring.

Also speaking at the Opening Plenary, ASCE President Randall “Randy” S. Over, P.E., F.ASCE, reflected on what the Society has accomplished over the past year and looked forward to ASCE continuing to grow leaders among members as they practice in an increasingly global profession.

Under the conference theme, “From Community Projects to Giga Projects: Civil Engineers Having a Global Impact,” keynote speaker Quijano shared with the audience the extraordinary engineering organizational skills required to manage and complete the Panama Canal Expansion.

 Quijano told the audience that since Panama became the link between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans a hundred years ago, his country “has embarked since 2007 in an undertaking that once again is changing the way the world does business…. Seven years into the Panama Canal Expansion program, the transformation of the sites selected for its construction has been remarkable.”


Panama City, Panama. Photo Credit: David Hathcox

Quijano explained that the project will create a new lane of traffic along the canal through the construction of a new set of locks, doubling capacity and allowing for more traffic. The project consists of several components, including new locks (Third Set of Locks), a Pacific Ocean access channel, and improved navigational channels. After its completion, the Panama Canal will be able to handle vessels of cargo capacity up to 13,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU). Currently, it can only handle vessels up to about 5,000 TEU.

“We have successfully completed dredging and excavation work, replacement and improvement of the existing structures, and placement of nearly all the concrete required for the construction of the locks at both ends of the waterway,” said Quijano. “The huge steel gates, the most viable elements of the locks next to the concrete structure, have already made their way into setting new transportation records [for delivery], with 4 of them already on site and 4 underway in a month-long journey from Italy.”

 Focusing on the Future


“ASCE continues to grow internationally both in membership and technical knowledge,” stressed ASCE President Randall “Randy” S. Over. Photo Credit: David Hathcox

 Over, in his farewell address as ASCE president, set the tone of the conference and the future of the Society by emphasizing the need to focus on carefully preparing the next generation of Society leaders to ensure that both civil engineering and ASCE continue to advance and influence the profession and the greater society.

“As a noted leader in another industry, Harvey S. Firestone once said, ‘The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership,’” observed Over. “As president of ASCE, to me that means people at all levels supporting the goals and vision of our Society.”

 Over emphasized that ASCE is working to provide a continuum of progressively more advanced leadership training as members move through their careers. That training can come in a variety of forums, such as ASCE’s annual Multi-Region Leadership Conferences, and with input from such resources as ASCE’s Industry Leaders Council.

 And as part of that overall leadership strategy, ASCE is also expanding its influence and offerings globally.

“ASCE continues to grow internationally both in membership and technical knowledge,” stressed Over. “In keeping with ASCE’s vision for the future – civil engineers are global leaders building a better quality of life – and the fact that the civil engineer leader of the future will be significantly more global in practice and perspective, ASCE continues to consider a strategic path toward greater global engagement.

“During the presidential international outreach trip to Central and South America [this past August], and in keeping with our evolving global strategy, we strengthened connections with allied engineering organizations and with our Sections outside the U.S. I was proud to meet with many Region 10 leaders and local student members who are passionate about civil engineering, the future of our profession, and ASCE.”

Concluded Over, “President John Quincy Adams once said, ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.’ I hope that during my presidency of ASCE I have inspired others to dream, do, and become leaders of our profession.”

Find out what happened on Day 2 at the Global Engineering Conference 2014.

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