Making a difference in the concrete industry can be a difficult task. To do so requires research on new methods, techniques, and materials. But it also means changing the way we think about that construction material called concrete. And to cultivate new thinking, we need experienced engineers to be adaptable and willing to accept change.
But we also need to develop concrete professionals who will become the experienced professionals that design and construct our infrastructure and take responsibility to educate the future concrete professionals that follow them. How do we go about accomplishing all of these tasks? When we really start to think about these issues, the questions we need to ask—and the answers to them—can be very complex. At first, the questions may very well be "Who can do all of this?" and "Where does it all begin?"
Within the ACI community, one answer is the ACI Foundation. The ACI Foundation is a not-for-profit organization established by ACI to promote progress, innovation, and collaboration by supporting research and scholarships, while also serving as an independent resource to provide thought leadership and strategic direction for the concrete industry. The goals of the foundation are accomplished through the initiatives of three councils and a legacy program.
The Scholarship Council supports our future concrete innovators and leaders by administering fellowships and scholarships to students. These awards, wholly funded by private donations, give the Scholarship Council means to provide ACI with our next generation of concrete professionals. Past Presidents, Board members, and several distinguished ACI volunteers were introduced to ACI through ACI Foundation scholarships and fellowships. The trend in the past few years, however, is that the demand for these awards exceeds the available funding.
The Concrete Research Council (CRC) advances the knowledge and sustainable aspects of concrete materials, construction, and structures by soliciting, selecting, financing, and publishing research. The CRC works in partnership with other industry foundations to coordinate more substantial and frequent funding for comprehensive, larger-scale research projects. Major updates or changes to ACI technical documents or codes need research—lab or engineering studies to support the changes—and since its formation, the CRC has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund research projects. The future challenge is to continue to provide funding for needed research—typically the missing piece in any research endeavor. The CRC is continually looking to align donors and funding with interesting, innovative, and worthy research projects.
The Strategic Development Council (SDC) is an organization that brings together representatives from the concrete industry, government agencies, and academia to focus on collaborative problem-solving in technology development. Its mission is to accelerate the acceptance of innovative concrete technology by:
- Providing a forum for visioning and prioritizing key challenges facing the concrete industry;
- Assisting ACI in the introduction and timely adoption of innovative technologies, problem solutions, and best practices; and
- Providing a framework for development of programs that respond to industry opportunities and accelerate technology acceptance.
And lastly, the Concrete Legacy Society, established in 2008, comprises a special group of individuals passionate about the concrete industry who have chosen to make a planned charitable bequest to ACI, the ACI Foundation, or specific programs of their choosing. These donors are helping to ensure that future generations will have access to continued advancements in concrete knowledge—advancements that ACI has been providing since its inception in 1904. Bequests to either ACI or the ACI Foundation will be applied to areas in the greatest need and where the greatest impact will be realized.
As a concrete professional and because you are reading this memo, you have already decided that ACI is important to you. As such, we ask that you please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to our future and the future of the industry. For more information, please visit http://acifoundation.org.
William E. Rushing Jr.