Ports ’16 – Planning a National Conference

As a waterfront engineer working on a wide range of Port projects, I always look forward to the Ports conference.   This large national conference occurs every three years and is sponsored by the Coasts, Oceans, Rivers, and Ports Institute (COPRI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and cosponsored by World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure (PIANC).  The four day conference features over 170 technical presentations, short courses, and keynote speakers all centered on Port-related topics from environmental analysis to terminal planning, to innovative structural design of Port infrastructure.

In the Beginning

Early in my career I looked forward to attending the technical presentations to gain extensive knowledge not collectively and readily available anywhere else, (this also had the added benefit of satisfying my continuing education requirements for my engineering licenses).  I also really looked forward to the networking, learning about the wide range of governmental agencies, public and private ports, and companies and manufacturers involved in the industry.  The coffee breaks, exhibit hall, luncheons, and evening gala provided a great chance to meet new people and have engaging conversations about all things related to ports.  Mid-career I began to write papers and participate as one of the many technical presenters at the conference.  With over 600 attendees from all over the world representing governmental entities, private consultants, educators, and others who are passionate about Ports, the opportunity to learn and share knowledge with a wide variety of people at the conference is amazing.

At my first few conferences, I barely noticed the ASCE staff and volunteers working hard behind the scenes to make the conference a success.  I just looked forward to seeing where the conference would be held and what interesting papers and events were planned for the conference.  But that all changed when I joined the National Ports and Harbors Committee of ASCE.  The National Ports and Harbor Committee is an all-volunteer group of Port engineers that authors a variety of Port technical publications and is responsible for the Ports conferences.

Getting Involved

Participating on the Ports ’13 planning subcommittee under the great leadership of the chairperson, Tom McCollough, I got to see firsthand all the work that goes into the Ports conference planning by the committee and ASCE staff. I was honored to be asked to chair Ports ’16.  With great insights and advice on planning the conference from past chairs, including Tom, Steve Dickenson, and Matthew Martinez, I knew that planning the Ports ’16 conference would be a lot of work but very worthwhile.

Indeed, planning the conference has been a very worthwhile experience. In particular, thanks go to the ASCE staff, Tom Chase, Lucy King, Sean Scully, and Angi Lander, and the Ports ’16 planning committee members ( who have worked hard on all the various elements, decisions, and coordination that needs to occur in planning a national conference.

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Ports 2016 in New Orleans

Ports ’16 is now five months away, scheduled for June 12-15 in New Orleans (in the heart of the French Quarter)!  From the opening plenary with the legendary Dr. Robert Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic and world ocean explorer (, to the short courses and technical program, to the reception at the Port of New Orleans, Mardi Gras World Gala (, and technical tours of the 2014 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) National Award winning Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lake Borgne Surge Barrier (, I can’t help but hope the conference will be a resounding success for all those who attend, exhibit, and sponsor the conference.

I hope to see you there!

Exhibit and sponsorships opportunities for the conference are now available.  Registration for the Ports ’16 conference is available online now.