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Summary Report on the 2024 Professors Conference in Philadelphia

Ray Clark, Executive Director

The 2024 PCI Foundation Professors Conference, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania May 28-31, was a resounding success.  Forty-six teaching faculty from universities across the United States and Canada spent three days together networking, discussing, learning, and engaging in best practices to bring the precast/prestressed concrete industry into the classroom for architecture, construction management, Concrete Industry Management, and engineering students. 

Highlights of the 2024 Professors Conference included an afternoon session at University of Pennsylvania where Richard Garber, AIA, UPenn lecturer at Weitzman School of Design and founding partner at GRO Architects, led the attendees through an educational series of phenomenal presentations from renowned UPenn faculty and graduate students showcasing their research and coursework within the precast/prestressed concrete realm. 

This proved to be one of the top conference sessions for all attendees.   

Northeast Precast in Vineland, New Jersey welcomed conference attendees to their manufacturing plant on May 30th.  Mark Gorgas, President and Matt Hicks, Project Executive, led the professors on an informative and impressive tour of their state-of-the-art facility.  Attendees got a first-hand look at how architectural and structural precast/prestressed concrete elements are manufactured.  John Ruga, CEO of Northeast Precast, dropped in for a surprise visit with the group. 

Excellence and precast expertise were on full display at the Wednesday evening dinner, hosted by Dawn Decker, Executive Director of PCI Mid-Atlantic and Jim Voss of JVI.   Decker chose the Museum of the American Revolution, which utilized precast in its design for the venue. 

Prior to dinner the 70 guests were treated to a video presentation of the story of George Washington’s tentThe surprise ending kicked off a grand evening. 

The original team who built the museum came together on a panel to take the attendees through their multi-year journey of creating the museum, it was an evening to be remembered.  The panel included: Kirsti Bracali, Principal, Dan Bosin Associates; Phil Moses, President INTECH Construction; Alex Stadel, PE, Associate Keast & Hood Structural Engineers; Bill Hydock, Preconstruction Manager, Universal Concrete Products and Dennis Sagiev, Senior Associate, Robert A.M. Stern Architects.

One of the other favorite aspects of the conference for attendees were the roundtable discussions.  Open discussions were generated around such topics as “Best Practices for an Architecture Studio”, and “Tips for First Time Grant Applicants”.  The collaboration amongst the architecture, engineering, construction management, and Concrete Industry Management faculty at each roundtable was infectious.  Great ideas were generated that will assist PCI Foundation in continuing its quest to further promote the precast/prestressed concrete industry within the university setting. 

The host hotel, The Rittenhouse in Center City Philadelphia curated a final dinner that took guests to food stations representing A Taste of Philly.  Even our own Italian, “Gio” Loreto from Kennesaw State University, gave the pasta at the Little Italy food station a double thumbs up!

Since the end of the conference, we have received numerous emails thanking us for the time and commitment put forth to organize the successful event.  The professors who attended were all very appreciative of the platform the conference provided them to collaborate with their colleagues and the precast/prestressed concrete industry. 

We look forward to hosting the 2025 Professors Conference in Texas next May, hosted by Ryan Penlerick, MA, SPC, Program Director/ Professor of Practice/TXST Concrete Industry Management, Texas State University.

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