More than three decades ago, I was in a strategic planning meeting regarding the future use of a portion of the Thornton Quarry near Chicago as a water retention area. My task was to develop a 25-year mining plan to remove all of the reserves. When all of the stone was removed, we needed to consider a concrete dam’s design that would fill the opening through which the shot rock was hauled to the crusher.
A staff engineer representing a concerned state agency was paying little attention to our discussion. The project leader noticed and asked him if anything was wrong. The engineer replied, “I’m not sure why we are spending so much time on this subject. When the dam is scheduled to be built, I’ll be dead, and the construction techniques we are proposing will be obsolete.” I never saw that engineer again during my involvement on the project.
The grumpy engineer was proven correct on at least one of his comments. Last year, the dam’s design engineer used a new technique involving roller compacted concrete (RCC) to fill the haul path’s opening. RCC was definitely not part of our 1980s discussion. None of us predicted the advancements in concrete mix design and construction that have made RCC a viable material.
But I learned something from that engineer’s attitude. We have two options about how we conduct our careers. We can be like the grumpy engineer and stop learning and innovating, waiting for someone else to solve a problem. Or we can adopt a philosophy to continue to improve so we can help shape the future. Which choice do you think our customers, our employers, and society prefer?
We like to think The Concrete Producer is part of your self-improvement process. The information we provide in print, on-line, and through our newsletter keeps you up-to-date on concrete production technology.
Added to these offerings is World of Concrete. Over the last 40 years, we’ve hosted almost 1 million industry professionals who want to keep learning. Through editorial lunches, outdoor events, and educational programs, TCP ensures that World of Concrete is more than just another exhibition. It’s the one place for concrete professionals from all types of production and construction to gather and to learn.
As you read through the cover story about the bridge over the Mississippi River, ask yourself if the bridge would have been built if all of the team members—architects, producers, material suppliers, public works officials, and concrete contractors—had stopped learning about new technology. New mix designs, formwork, and construction techniques contributed to this impressive project.
Few of us have the chance to build such a high-profile legacy structure. But that doesn’t mean that every project doesn’t have its own legacy. With every batch, casting, and delivery, we are solidly building our society from the foundation to the roof. And we need to be prepared to do it right.
So as we start this new year, I offer three resolutions designed to help you create your own legacy.
Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter; follow TCP on Twitter to be alerted of updates to our website; and network at World of Concrete. Don’t be a grumpy engineer.
See you at World of Concrete, Jan. 21-24 in Las Vegas.