Last week, we attended the composite industry’s annual conference and trade show, the Composites and Advanced Materials Expo, also known as CAMX. Though it took some extra effort, the event ended up being very memorable. You see, the conference was originally scheduled for September in Orlando, but Hurricane Irma had other ideas. Conference organizers rescheduled for the only available time slot - December, amidst the busy holiday season. However, as I said, it was a great conference and overall attendance was strong.
The educational sessions, sales meetings and networking were rewarding in and of themselves, and our schedule always fills up fast while we try to catch up with our industry peers. In addition to the above events, CAMX holds an annual industry awards ceremony, honoring standouts within themes like innovation, market growth and various technical topics.
So what made this an award-winning conference for us? Our FRP wicket gate won the Combined Strength Award! This award is sponsored by Ashland and recognizes “the composites product that clearly demonstrates a team approach and effort that brings together knowledge, resources, and talent to produce an incredible example of the best use of composites materials that solves a problem.” The wicket gate exemplified this perfectly as it is a collaboration of government, industry and academia.
Wicket gates are basically movable dams that maintain navigable waterways on rivers. For the last 100 years, wicket gates have been made of wood, but maintenance and short life is a problem. To solve this, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL) initiated a project to find an FRP replacement. It was a true team effort:
- West Virginia University performed initial design and testing
- Composite Advantage manufactured the gate
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Rock Island District installed the gate on the Illinois River
It was an honor to win the award and recognize a good team of collaborators. I personally want to thank ACMA and Ashland for sponsoring the competition. Awards like these, highlighting the benefits of FRP, will help spread the word about this technology and encourage more users to implement FRP in infrastructure applications.