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A good cup of coffee has depth on many levels, some more subtle than others. Providing that hidden depth for the plumbing industry is the biennial convention and expo of the American Society of Plumbing Engineers — a full-circle event coming at one of the most critical times in our industry — Sept. 28-Oct. 3 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
At the start of the convention is the ASPE business meeting, which gathers the leaders in the plumbing engineering industry to decide the future operation of the organization. Afterwards, the committees meet to strengthen and focus efforts of ASPE training and technical programs. That leads to the plumbing exposition with more than 300 plumbing manufacturers in a shining display of products unmatched in this industry.
The ASPE business meeting is designed to give the delegate members a voice in the operation of the society. This one-and-a-half-day event, scheduled this year for Sept. 29-30, decides the path of the organization’s future. The meeting begins with an update of the group’s status, recognition of some of the awards given by the society and future program updates.
Delegates also are asked to vote on bylaw changes and review the prospective candidates for office — president; vice president, technical; vice president, education; vice president, legislative; vice president, treasurer; vice president, affiliate; and five region directors. The 6,000-plus member society has direct election of the board by representative delegates of 300 to 350 people. This election process allows the best interests of this professional plumbing group to be served. The diversity of candidates includes engineers, designers, owners, contractors and manufacturers’ representatives.
For me, the committees and councils are a wonderful opportunity to learn and to contribute. They are another layer and operational tool to give ASPE depth and quality to its members — Technical and Research, Legislative, Long-Range Planning and Education Committees. I encourage delegates and members to sit in on a committee meeting and talk to the committee chair.
The Technical and Research Committee’s main focus is to provide quality publications and to work with other committees to provide technical information to members, such as the Education Committee. The Legislative Committee provides support for the ASPE representatives at the code/standard and legislative level. The Long-Range Planning Committee provides insight on future goals and directives of ASPE.
Technical programs at the convention come in the form of educational classes, manufacturer tours and design workshops. Programming is structured to expose attendees to a diverse amount of information.
The Green Design Workshop offers comprehensive information to the engineer/designer regarding the Green Plumbing Design certification. Sponsored by ASPE and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, it is for engineers and designers with advanced skills in sustainable plumbing system design and consulting. You can read more about this certification at www.aspe.org/gpd.
The technical program offers five tracts of courses: Plumbing System Design, Construction Design, Equipment Exploration, Design Selection and Latest Trends. Over a two-day period, attendees can take five classes and receive Continuing Education Units. I mention CEUs because often we justify convention attendance with our employers by the actual value of the CEU. I agree earning a CEU is a great value. I contend, though, that a thorough understanding and knowledge of plumbing systems is an even greater value.
Therefore, I urge you to review the programs offered this year. You can obtain an in-depth understanding of Legionella, product selection, compressed air, medical gas design, constructability and liability, balancing hot water systems, selection of backflows, ACVs and pumps with controls. If you do not keep up with the trends and pitfalls in plumbing systems, you may need to attend the forensic engineering/expert witness testimony session (in fact, we all need guidance on this process).
The afternoon manufacturer tour will be Oct. 2 at SyncroFlo and includes transportation from the convention center. Attendees will earn 0.25 CEUs for participating. The tour includes a 1 1/2-hour discussion on design and proper installation of plumbing boosters followed by a 1-hour tour of the factory. This special event has a limit of 50 people, so book soon if you’re interested.
The convention wraps up with a 300-plus manufacturer extravaganza, a hive of activity and information. This year’s event is on track to be one of the largest in history. You only have to attend one ASPE expo in your career to know you should not miss it! Atlanta should not be missed, period.
I have found the floor experience is one of the best-concentrated efforts for engineers, designers, contractors, inspectors and owners alike. The floor consists of many hands-on displays, of which 90 percent are of the most common commercial products. For anyone in the commercial market, you’re in product heaven.
You can compare products by walking from one booth to the next, see the construction of all grades of materials. If you have ever wondered about this faucet or that shower valve or that pump, you are in the right place. If you need to know what options are available and what XYZ costs — again, you are in the right place. Do I need to mention mixing valve technology, medical and lab products, and piping materials? You will not attend any one-stop show with all these items under the roof.
If you need a research and development contact, product engineer contact, regional contact or piece of literature about anything — this is the place to make those connections.
From the perspective of a consulting firm owner, I would make it mandatory for every specifying engineer to attend. Your engineers can attend 300 lunch-and-learns and still not get the quality of information they will receive on the floor of this product show. Designers, contractors, engineers, facility members and owners should know and understand the commercial products in the industry. Otherwise, how do you provide the best project design?
If you are a contractor, how do you provide adequate construction administration? If you are an owner or the owner’s facility representative, how do you know if the products are best for your building or if you are spending the money wisely? Here is a simple truth. The ASPE Expo is the best concentration of manufacturers in the industry. You will not see this variety even if you go to the supply house. Knowledge of design products gives you the power to provide clients with the best possible design.
And let’s not forget about networking — ASPE does networking like no other. It is strengthened through networking. ASPE’s Sunday night party is an upscale event sponsored by Rheem. The Leadership Forum for Women of ASPE, sponsored by Delta, strengthens membership and involvement. ASPE Young Professionals will have a Top Golf event sponsored by Zurn. A reception celebrates first-time attendees, and a loyalty breakfast honors our members of 25 years or more.
Of course, networking doesn’t need to be scheduled. Meet up with old friends, spend some time getting to know new friends at amazing venues across Atlanta. You can learn more about the 2018 ASPE Convention & Expo at expo.aspe.org/ASPE2018. Register and see your email inbox fill up.
So, this is how it all works together. Not only does ASPE provide our industry with incredible support, it also gives us a voice. ASPE means leadership and networking. The close-knit industry of manufacturers, engineers, code influencers and owners come together and create the ASPE family.
ASPE helps designers evolve, allows us to increase our knowledge base so we can provide the best plumbing solutions for our clients. As we educate ourselves, we create a better industry — we protect the environment and make building occupants safer. It makes that cup of coffee potable.
ee; and a member of the ASPE Technical and Research Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.