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Leading the Way – Part Four

World Cement,

This is the final part of a 4-part article. To read part one, click here. To read part two, click here. For part three, click here.

Q: What is the PCA currently working on?

Jim Toscas: Of course there are several programmes underway at PCA, but the most critical ones, I feel, revolve around our support for a competent and efficient transportation system in the US. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives a grade of “D” to our roads, projecting that the current insufficient level of federal, state, and local capital investment will result in further decline. This is causing measurable burdens of time, energy and risk to be borne by the public, and is absolutely unacceptable for a world-leading nation like the US. PCA is doing all it can with research, information, and legislative activities to turn the tide in this area.

Another broad area of concern is the resilience of our built environment with regard to the forces of nature. This need encompasses more than just resilient structures; we need resilient communities in order to have a resilient nation. We have seen how public buildings, private homes and businesses built with concrete resist damage from natural forces. We have seen how the residents of cities and towns with resilient structures enjoy a major advantage in the wake of a natural disaster: fewer burdens on local services, a more quickly-recovering local economy, and, ultimately, the survival of the municipality. As a result, we will expand our activities in promoting the importance of resilient construction and supporting the development of codes and standards for resilient construction.

Q How is the research at MIT developing?

JT: The research at MIT, which is funded jointly by PCA and the RMC Foundation, has resulted in advancing the state-of-the-art in scientific computer modelling in areas that will benefit our industry and the construction industry as a whole. The researchers at MIT have largely completed the tasks we challenged them to do, and we’re now working with them to translate the results into practical tools. One result with immediate applications is the ‘Pavement-Vehicle-Interaction’ model, which is essential to examining our transportation infrastructure as part of a system that also includes the vehicles using it. Only by looking at the whole system can we optimise overall transportation efficiency, which includes lifetime cost, safety, durability, energy consumption, environmental impact and resilience. The MIT model is already helping states prioritise their limited resources to achieve the best overall positive impact on transportation efficiency.

Q What part can PCA play in encouraging people into the cement industry?

John Stull: PCA’s work with the universities and its focus on innovation offers an attractive proposition to those looking into the cement industry. Additionally, the increasing demand for cement as a way to help address our country’s challenges around its infrastructure needs highlights the value our industry has to society. People are naturally drawn to industries where they can play a role in taking the US to the next level – the contribution of cement can help do that.

JT: First, we need to understand and communicate the critical role cement and concrete have played, and will continue to play, in developing and sustaining modern civilisation. People who are drawn to such a ‘higher calling’ will find satisfying careers in our industry. Second, we need to engage and support a greater number of universities in research and education. This will not only encourage high-potential students to enter the industry in the short-term, but will also build the academic and institutional infrastructure needed to advance the industry in the long-term.  

This is an excerpt from the interview published in World Cement’s IEEE-IAS/PCA Cement Industry Technical Conference Supplement.

Read the article online at:

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