Association News

ACPA Celebrates Career of Suneel Vanikar

ACPA was on hand last week to celebrate the career of Suneel Vanikar, P.E., Pavement Design and Analysis Team Leader with the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA’s) Office of Infrastructure.

Jerry Voigt, ACPA President & CEO, joined with Vanikar’s colleagues, friends, and family members to celebrate. Vanikar is retiring effective May 1, after 35 years of distinguished service to the FHWA.  

Jerry Voigt (L) and Suneel Vanikar (R) take time for a photo during a celebration last week at FHWA headquarters in Washington, D.C..

Jerry Voigt (L) and Suneel Vanikar (R) take time for a photo during a celebration last week at FHWA headquarters in Washington, D.C..

“Suneel Vanikar has been an exceptional advocate for concrete pavement technology implementation to improve our nation’s Federal-aid highway system,” Voigt said adding, “Among his many contributions are his work in guiding the development and advancement of high-performance concrete, as well as fast-track construction, innovative concepts, and nondestructive testing used in producing quality concrete pavements. 

“His interest and leadership in pursuing and implementing new and emerging concrete pavement technologies has been unrivaled,” Voigt said, citing the 2006 FHWA Scanning Tour, “which continues to pay huge benefits to owners/agencies, the concrete pavement industry, and the highway users who benefit from technologies such as two-lift concrete pavements and geotextile interlayers, which are used increasingly in concrete paving.”

Voigt said Vanikar demonstrated the same enthusiasm and positivity in advancing technology as he did in growing and reinforcing an excellent working relationship between the Federal Highway Administration and the concrete pavement industry.  

“For as long as I’ve known him, Suneel has been consistently patient, fair, and objective in his dealings with ACPA staff, Chapter/State affiliates, and members,” Voigt said.

Taylor Appointed CP Tech Center Director

The board of directors for the National Concrete Pavement Technology Center (CP Tech Center) at Iowa State University announced that Peter Taylor, Ph.D., P.E., has been appointed as the Director, effective April 10. 

He replaces Tom Cackler, P.E., who has served as Director since 2005. Cackler is retiring from his post as the Center’s director later this month and will begin a consulting role to the Center. 

Peter Taylor becomes the CP Tech Center's Director, effective April 9.

Peter Taylor becomes the CP Tech Center’s Director, effective April 10.

Taylor previously served as Associate Director since joining the CP Tech Center in 2007. He has been involved in managing and conducting research projects and programs investigating materials-related aspects of concrete pavements and in teaching applied concrete materials technology to practicing engineers. He also serves as a Research Associate Professor in Iowa State’s Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering.

“ACPA congratulates Peter Taylor in his new post as Director of the CP Tech Center,” said ACPA President & CEO Gerald F. Voigt, P.E.   Voigt is part of the 12-member of the CP Tech Center’s Executive Board of Directors. 

“Peter has solid research and technology credentials; has an exceptional service record with the CP Tech Center; and is widely known for his technical expertise in concrete materials and construction,” he added.

“We also extend our thanks and appreciation to Tom Cackler, who served with distinction and a steady hand as the CP Tech Center’s first Director for almost a decade,” Voigt said, adding, “Tom’s vast experience with the Iowa DOT, and his dedication to applied research, as well as technology transfer and implementation have proven to be great assets, not only for the CP Tech Center, but also for the broad community of interests in the field of concrete paving.  Tom led the CP Tech Center from its chartering by ACPA as a national organization to becoming an integral part of the concrete pavement community today.  We have every confidence that Peter will carry on Tom and the Center’s outstanding contributions.”

About Peter Taylor
Taylor is a professional engineer, registered in Illinois. He is President-Elect of the American Concrete Institute (ACI), Iowa Chapter, and sits on the board of directors for both the International Society for Concrete Pavements and the Transportation Engineering and Road Research Alliance.

He is active in the American Concrete Pavement Association, Transportation Research Board, the American Society for Testing and Materials, and American Concrete Institute.

Texas Briefing Signals New ACPA Program

Earlier this month, ACPA presented a briefing and concrete paving exchange for contractors and other companies with interests in concrete paving in Texas.   More than 20 participated, including over a dozen member and non-member contractors, as well as suppliers and local promoters.

Houston-TX-2015ACPA’s Jerry Voigt presented an overview of the Association and the concrete pavement industry, including successes with agencies on advancing concrete overlays and the benefits of competition between paving industries.

ACPA’s Leif Wathne provided an update on ACPA’s involvement with the federal-aid highway bill other legislative issues, and an overview of the Association’s work in with the Federal Highway Administration.  Like most contractors across the country, Texas contractors are keenly interested in efforts to secure federal highway funding and a meaningful, long-term highway bill.

ACPA’s Gary Mitchell led an interesting discussion on ACPA’s ongoing work with the Federal Aviation Administration and Military Tri-Services, including field issues, interpretation of specifications, and ACPA’s accredited training program that was piloted last fall.

The event included an open forum, which provided the contractors and others the opportunity to discuss their specific issues, needs, and opportunities in Texas and nationally.  “We will be back in Texas.  We have learned a lot from this exchange, and we see mutual interest in pursuing priorities that will help us in Texas and nationally,” said Voigt.

The feedback was extremely positive, so much so, in fact, that Voigt said that other regional exchanges of this type will be planned in the future.

Chapter Chairman Discusses Vision, Goals

Rico Fung, P.Eng., has a clear path mapped out for the ACPA-affiliated Chapter/States during his tenure as the 2015 Chairman of the ACPA Chapter/State Committee. 

Fung has already charted a course that is unique for two reasons: He is the first person outside the United States and is the first person working for a national organization, the Cement Association of Canada (CAC), to serve as Chapter/State Chairman.  The latter is the result of a unique affiliation agreement that affords the CAC the full access, rights, and privileges of the ACPA-affiliated Chapter/State paving organization. (Fung serves the CAC as its Director of Markets & Technical Affairs, working out of the association’s Toronto office.) 

Rico Fung poses a question during ACPA’s 2014 annual meeting. (Photo: ACPA)

Rico Fung poses a question during ACPA’s 2014 annual meeting. (Photo: ACPA)

“I’m honored to be the Chair, and very enthusiastic,” Fung says, adding, that he sees one of his roles as “looking out for the interest of all the Chapter/States.  This is their committee, and I am there to serve them.”

Moving the Needle
He outlined a full slate of major initiatives and issues that are top priorities for the Chapter/States in the short term.

“As Chapter/State Committee Chair, my foremost goal is to grow the market, to move the needle in the marketplace. 

He also explained a second major priority is passage of a well-funded, multi-year Federal-aid highway bill, noting that he would like the Chapter/States to have the resources necessary to raise awareness with elected officials about “how important this bill is to the highway infrastructure, the economy, and the survival of the industry.”

Another goal is to reinforce technical leadership, both at the national and local levels, he said. “Without ACPA National’s technical support, we will not be able to do that,” he said, adding the goal is to leverage national expertise and resources to assist local technical experts in their service to contractors and other members, as well as with state and local agency/owners.

Fung also said a fourth goal is to foster closer working relationships with the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association and Portland Cement Association, while also “involving the MIT Sustainability Hub to leverage the knowledge they have developed to help us move the needle in the marketplace.”  

The Chapter/State group is also engaged in a number of initiatives, including:

  • Chapter/State Website Redevelopment Effort—ACPA is developing a standardized series of aesthetically pleasing and functional templates and other resources, which ACPA-affiliated Chapter/States may use to establish or improve their web presence. Fung credited the work of ACPA’s Andy Gieraltowski and a working group comprised of Jim Powell (Northwest Chapter), Mitzi McIntyre-Group Leader (Utah Chapter), Randy Riley (Illinois Chapter) and David Sethre (North Dakota Chapter), who are working to create sites that are “more inviting, interesting, and dynamic, and which entice users to download information and also pick up the phone and call their local resources.”
  • Marketing Messaging—The affiliated Chapter/States are supporting an effort led by Second Vice Chair Lori Tiefenthaler (and Chair of the ACPA Strategic Advisory Committee) to develop a Vision Paper on Sustainability that will benefit the local associations.
  • Unified Software—The Chapter/States also support an effort by ACPA National to evaluate the concept of a unified approach to design software.

Increasing Involvement
Fung said he is striving to increase participation among Chapter/States and association members.  

“My goal is to increase participation among the Chapter/States through conference calls and face-to-face meetings, and getting people to engage.”  He acknowledges this can be challenging, given the differences in staffing, coverage area, history, market share, and other factors that make each Chapter and State paving association unique.

His goal is building consensus, but when that is not possible, he adds that one of the best ways to bridge differences is to reach out to people to understand their concerns and get their input. Deploying small groups—such as the one working on the website redevelopment effort—also helps focus attention on topics that have most relevance and impact on individual Chapter/States, rather than trying to develop resources and solutions for the entire group.

Fung encouraged all Chapter/State executives and others to attend the mid-year Chapter/State meeting, scheduled for May 12 through 14.  The first day will kick off with a half-day meeting, followed by a reception.   The meeting continues with a full day on May 13, and a half-day (ending at 11 a.m.) on May 14.   The meeting will be held at the Pillar & Post Inn, Niagara-on-the-Lake, in southern Ontario.

Personal Insights
There are four things I try to keep in mind in professional life, he said, adding that the list includes being credible; being knowledgeable; being persistent and never giving up; and being a good listener.

“I don’t always practice it, but I try to be a good listener, and I’m still working on this one,” he said with a laugh.  On a serious note, Fung recalled a recent conversation with a municipal official who asked what Fung wanted to present.  

“My presentation is for the audience,” he told the official. “I want the audience to be engaged and to feel they have listened to the information they want to hear.”  The response was positive, and the official then asked his colleagues for input that would help pinpoint Fung’s presentation to their needs.

Outside of his role with CAC and his volunteer leadership position with the ACPA Chapter/States, Fung enjoys traveling and fishing, two activities that he finds appealing for two different reasons.

He enjoys meeting people, networking, and learns from the experiences of others, which is one of the appeals of traveling.  “Travel means different things, but for me, it means learning different cultures, seeing different places, and meeting different people.”  Among his favorite places to visit have been South America, Europe, and China.

In contrast, he said, “fishing is more solitary. It is an opportunity to spend time with good friends and enjoying nature.”

FHWA Recognizes Burwell for Leadership in Innovation

ACPA Congratulates Brent Burwell, P.E., Executive Director of the Oklahoma/Arkansas Chapter-ACPA for being recognized formally by the Federal Highway Burwell-award-032415-smAdministration for his work with the State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) in Oklahoma.

Waseem Fazal, Pavement Engineer with the FHWA’s Oklahoma Division in Oklahoma City, said Burwell was recognized for his overall leadership and participation in the STIC, as well as for advancing initiatives such as the FHWA’s “Every Day Counts” program, SHRP2, and other programs that foster innovative practices and technologies in the Federal-aid highway system.  Fazal added the Oklahoma STIC is one of 27 in the United States.

The STIC Network helps to establish a group of representatives from various levels of the highway community in each State to comprehensively and strategically consider all sources of innovation, according to the FHWA.  

STICs link the FHWA and state DOT’s with other local agencies; contractors, consultants; LTAP’s, TTAP’s, and UTC’s; universities; and federal resource agencies to advance “new ideas and better ways to more quickly deliver transportation to America.”

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