Godwin Amekuedi is at the forefront in many concrete technology initiatives.

Born in Ghana, West Africa, Godwin Amekuedi recalls what people would say about America. “When I was growing up, people considered the United States three miles to heaven,” he says.

He wanted to be a doctor, but there was one drawback: He couldn't stand dissecting animals and the blood. So here turned to engineering. After all, when he was a child, Amekuedi had a knack for “putting things together and assembling stuff.”

He won a scholarship to Cleveland State University, where he received bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering. His first job out of college was at Master Builders (the admixture supplier is now BASF) in Cleveland.

“At that time, Master Builders was nearing completion in the development of Delvo Stabilizer, which was ahead of its time,” Amekuedi recalls. “Companies jumped on that technology because it had sustainable benefits. They were using it to recycle returned plastic concrete and also stabilize wash water from the interior of mixer drums, a zero-waste concept.” He became the Delvo product manager and introduced it throughout the U.S., Canada, and overseas.

Today, he credits Master Builders' strong emphasis on training people like him who were new to concrete technology. “Today, this industry is populated with MBAs, or Master Builder Alumni,” he says. “They are in all different facets of the industry.”

In 1998, Amekuedi joined Unicon Concrete, which was acquired by Ready Mixed Concrete Co. in 2002. He was director of quality assurance for both producers. In 2006, Argos USA, a subsidiary of the Colombian manufacturer, Cementos Argos S.A., bought Ready Mixed Concrete Co. Today, Amekuedi, as Argos' quality assurance director, is responsible for developing and administering the quality assurance program for more than 130 Argos-owned ready-mix and cement business units in the U.S.

Amekuedi, 52, serves on many association and advisory committees and is chairman of the NRMCA Research Engineering and Standards (RES) Committee. RES spearheads NRMCA's Prescription to Performance (P2P) initiative. He also is a strong advocate of concrete becoming a sustainable building material of choice. For his contribution to P2P research, association work, tireless commitment, and research initiatives including self-consolidating concrete, pervious concrete, and lightweight concrete, TCP has selected Godwin Amekuedi as a 2010 Influencer.

P2P success stories

The shift from prescriptive- to performance-based specifications “has success stories,” Amekuedi says. Through ACI 121, Quality Management for Concrete Construction, and the NRMCA P2P initiatives on which he serves, concrete producers have a guide to follow in structuring their quality programs to meet requirements for bidding on performance specifications. This year, 11 companies, including Argos USA, met the program's requirements to be recognized. “It's a slow process, but once producers, architects, researchers, and contractors are on the same wavelength, P2P will take off,” he says.

Amekuedi says most architects and structural engineers do not understand concrete technology. Producers must educate others about concrete's capabilities. They should partner with construction team stakeholders to share new technology so the entire construction team can better understand the material science and capabilities of concrete.

“Then, outsiders can be assured that concrete producers do not just mix cement, sand, stone, water, and admixtures, and come up with some product,” he says. “These products are manufactured in very controlled processes using state-of-the-art equipment. We follow ASTM standards and ACI guidelines.”

On sustainability, Amekuedi says, “we need to move quickly and smartly to get where we need to be. The social, economic, and environmental benefits of concrete should be transparent.” Recycled asphalt and steel are components in its production, but concrete has a long way to go. “I hope in the next five or 10 years, most producers will be sustainable and be able to compete with asphalt and steel.”