Eight IGS Young Members were supported to attend the 12th International Conference on Geosynthetics (12ICG) in Rome thanks to grants from the IGS Foundation (IGSF).
The IGSF, established in 2019 to support the education efforts of the IGS, provided travel grants towards the cost of attending the conference, organized by IGS Italy from September 17-21. This enabled more young engineers from around the world to advance their practice and expand their network.
Shade Sitwala Muluti, from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, said: “Meeting fellow professionals and researchers from different corners of the globe was one of the most enriching aspects of the conference. The sense of camaraderie and shared passion for geosynthetics was truly inspiring.”
Keyi Li, from Zhejiang University, China, said it was “a transformative experience”, adding: “I was most impressed by the Giroud Lecture given by Ennio Palmeira. Because his research direction is very close to mine, listening to his report opened up my research ideas and gave me a certain understanding of the current international cutting-edge research direction and methodological content.”
Many Young Members presented their own papers, including Ashray Saxena, of the University of Texas at Austin. He said: “I had an incredibly enriching experience. Presenting my paper and receiving such a positive response was truly gratifying. The conference provided a platform for knowledge exchange, and the diverse range of discussions and networking opportunities made it a valuable event in my academic and professional journey.”
It was also “a rich learning experience” for Keerthana Sakthivel, from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India. She was also thrilled to meet her hero, Professor Kerry Rowe. “It was a dream come true moment where I was so thrilled to meet such a legend in person,” she said.
She added: “The best part for me was interacting with researchers, building my network in the scientific community, exchanging ideas, and finally experiencing the rich culture and history of Rome. All this would not have been possible without the receipt of the grant.”
Putting in the miles was Chelsey Yesnick, of the University of Saskatchewan, who said: “I travelled over 10 hours from the Canadian prairies to Italy, where the atmosphere was unlike any I had ever experienced before. The conference offered many great networking opportunities, which included the time spent meeting other young professionals.
“The opportunity to present my research in front of world-renowned researchers was also a surreal experience. I was lucky to meet those who were most influential in setting the premise for my research in base stabilisation over unpaved roadways. Engaging discussions were had, and challenging questions were asked – which brought to light new considerations for the work completed by our team at the University of Saskatchewan.”
Joshua Schmalbach, of Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia, said: “Attending this conference was an invaluable experience that allowed me to stay closely connected to an industry that is still in its infancy, yet rapidly evolving and moving towards standardization. The highlight of the conference was the series of plenary lectures, [making] complex concepts comprehensible to a diverse audience.”
Matheus Pena da Silva e Silva, from the Federal University of Sao Carlos, Brazil, said attendance “marked a significant turning point” for him, adding: “My experience was truly exceptional. It provided a platform for learning, networking, and personal growth. I left with a renewed commitment to advancing research in geosynthetics and a network of colleagues and friends from around the world.”
The conference enabled Beatriz Mydori Carvalho Urashima, of Osaka University, Japan, to intensify her knowledge about the durability of geosynthetics.
She said: “It was possible to listen and learn from the personal experiences of professionals who work in the field worldwide. I could understand better how these materials are significant for sustainable development in each country. This expansion of knowledge beyond a national scenario is extremely important for my academic and professional degree.”
An IGSF grant can make a significant impact on the next generation of engineers. To find out more about donating, or applying for a grant, visit here.
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