This week has been the Joint Technical Meeting on pipeline research in Sydney, a wonderful conference run jointly by the APIA Research & Standards Committee, PRCI (pipeline research from mostly North America) and EPRC (European Pipeline Research Group). The 36 papers covered far too much to attempt any sort of summary here other than to list the main topics – mechanical damage, welding & inspection, fracture control, corrosion, ground movement, safety & design, materials and CO2 pipelines.
No-one can be an expert in such a wide range of subjects. In fact it would be hard to be expert in more than a very small handful of them, and at face value the conference program can look as if the great bulk of it might be of little interest to any one individual. However in his opening remarks Leigh Fletcher introduced a concept that he attributed to Max Kimber: Pipeline engineers should have pan and zoom. You need to have in-depth expertise in whatever technical specialities are your own (zoom) but you also need to be well-informed about the key issues in all other aspects of pipeline engineering (pan). I’m sure all attendees, including the six young engineers who won APIA scholarships to attend, did in fact get an appreciation of the breadth of issues that are the at the cutting edge of pipeline research in 2013.
However it’s not just the presentations that are valuable in the conference like this. Arguably there is even more value in meeting and talking to pipeline engineers and researchers from other parts of the world. It is both gratifying and useful to be able to build a network of international contacts, and one of the reasons for looking forward to the next international meeting is to renew those contacts and friendships.
The next JTM will be in Paris in 2015. Probably for many Australian pipeline engineers it will be a big ask to get permission/funding to attend, but for those who are able I’m sure it will maintain the value in this series of meetings.
And don’t forget the pan & zoom.