David Tepke’s infatuation with concrete began while studying at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA, under his academic advisor Paul Tikalsky, who had a “remarkable, unmistakable, and infectious passion for education,” Tepke said. Through Tikalsky’s mentorship, Tepke was led to ACI in 1999 and, during the infancy of the ACI Foundation Fellowship and Scholarship program, was awarded an ACI Foundation fellowship.
One of the benefits of receiving an ACI Foundation fellowship is financial support to attend two ACI conventions during the academic award year, and that was the beginning of Tepke’s long-time relationship with ACI. He attended his first ACI convention in the spring of 2001 in Philadelphia, PA. Since then, Tepke has maintained an outstanding level of activity within ACI. He is involved with 17 committees, consisting of main committees, task groups, collaboration groups, and subcommittees, and is a Chapter Officer of the ACI Carolinas Chapter. Tepke currently works as a Principal Engineer for SKA Consulting Engineers, Inc., at the Charleston, SC, USA, office, and is primarily focused on structural rehabilitation and structural service-life extension.
In addition to naturally being drawn to concrete, Tepke credits several mentors who helped guide him through his college years and into his professional career, such as Andrea Schokker, Barry Scheetz, Andrew Scanlon, Della Roy, and others. “I’ve had the opportunity to learn from the best in the concrete industry through attendance and involvement on committees,” he said. “I've also been fortunate to have an employer that has supported my involvement and afforded many great mentors, including Bob Kennerly, who has profoundly impacted me,” Tepke added. He also highly values his connection to the network of minds working to disseminate the vast universe of concrete knowledge: “There are 10 lifetimes of things to learn about concrete. With recent advancements, that is probably more like 25 lifetimes.”
As a former ACI Foundation fellowship recipient, Tepke has been in the position of many young professionals trying to find their place in an industry that’s constantly advancing. His advice to young professionals: “Invest in yourself. Seek out companies that value professional development and provide avenues for employees to get involved [with ACI and the industry at large].”
Through Tepke’s extensive involvement with ACI, he continues to give back by volunteering as a Board member of the ACI Carolinas Chapter and by donating to the ACI Foundation, specifically to the Kenneth C. Hover Honorary Fellowship, the Barbara S. and W. Calvin McCall Carolinas Fellowship, and the JoAnne K. and Cecil L. Jones Carolinas Fellowship.
Tepke first became a Board member of the ACI Carolinas Chapter in 2019. He served his first term through 2021, and then rejoined the Board in 2022 as Vice President. “My experience on the Board has allowed me to meet and become friends with some really great, hardworking people dedicated to advancement in the Carolinas,” he said. “Prior to joining the Carolinas Chapter as a Board member, I didn’t realize how many truly remarkable people we have in the Carolinas that are in the concrete industry.”
The ACI Carolinas Chapter was formed in 1975 to bring together individuals and groups in North Carolina and South Carolina who are interested in concrete for the purpose of discussing and disseminating technical and educational information. The ACI Carolinas Chapter is actively engaged in serving the concrete industry through certification testing, meetings and seminars, student chapter sponsorship, student fellowship awards, and community service (Toys for Tots, Meals on Wheels, and Concrete for a Cure).
The ACI Foundation currently manages five Chapter-sponsored fellowships and scholarships. The Foundation gives ACI Chapters the opportunity to name a fellowship or scholarship after a Chapter or someone meaningful to the Chapter. ACI Chapters can determine the criteria necessary to award the fellowship or scholarship, including the area of study and/or focus of the student’s major, a focused track record of dedication to a specific industry innovation (such as sustainability or architecture), or a required internship. Besides the opportunity to give back to the concrete industry by supporting someone just like Tepke, other benefits to establishing an award with the ACI Foundation include a press release that is distributed to the entire ACI community, and to be mentioned in Concrete International, ACI eNews, social media, and the ACI Foundation’s Annual Report. The ACI Foundation manages the application and award process.
To establish a fellowship or scholarship, email Kari Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.