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Posted 9/30/2013

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ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA. PIANC USA Young Professionals (YP) recently participated in the 4th Biennial YP-Com Technical Visit July 7-10, 2013 in Panama where they were able to tour parts of the Panama Canal.

Sixty-four Young Professionals from more than 10 countries (Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Hungary, Mexico, Panama, Spain, The Netherlands, U.K., and U.S.), including 31 students and one professor from TU Delft Panamérica Froude Study Trip, toured the Panama Canal from Gatun Lake to the Pacific entrance on July 8-9, 2013.

A smaller group of approximately 25 continued for another two days to visit the Port of Balboa and the Atlantic side of the canal. The U.S. contingency attending the visit comprised seven individuals from PIANC USA, all involved in various aspects of the maritime transport industry. The technical visit included a visit to the new (third) set of locks being built at the Panama Canal. 

PIANC USA YP attendees had the opportunity to speak to members of the Panama Canal Authority design and construction teams to learn about the history of the canal and the design process for the third set of locks.  The visit also included a visit to the PAC-4 observation point, from where the existing operational Pedro Miguel Locks and Miraflores Lake were in full view during discussions.

Once the locks are open, vessel sizes of 13,000 – 14,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) will be able to pass through the lock process, which is an increase from 4,000 TEU size vessels able to transit the canal today. The new locks are scheduled to open in 2014.

PIANC USA sponsored the activities of the technical visit and also offered three PIANC Young Professionals travel scholarships for the trip. Recipients of the scholarship were required to write an article summarizing the experience in addition to a commitment to PIANC and the field of navigation.                

The goal of the Panama Canal expansion effort is to designate Panama as an intermodal competitive center in the region, Pablo Arecco, YP-Com chair, and Jessica McIntyre, YP-Com secretary and PIANC USA member, reported in their summary of the visit.   A full summary of the visit written by Pablo Arecco, Chair YP-Com and Jessica McIntyre, Secretary YP-Com can be found on the PIANC USA website.

Additional articles taking an in-depth perspective of the visit by Ali Farhadzadeh, coastal and hydraulic engineer at Bechtel Corporation and PIANC USA YP member, and Marc Howlett, University of New Orleans Transportation Institute research associate, PhD student at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and PIANC USA YP member, are also available.

More about PIANC USA

PIANC USA is a national section of the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure (PIANC), a worldwide non-political and non-profit technical and scientific organization established to promote both inland and maritime navigation by fostering progress in the planning, design, construction, improvement, maintenance and operation of inland and maritime waterways and ports and of coastal areas for general use.

PIANC USA was organized in 1902 with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) serving as the Secretariat. Membership is comprised of engineers, scientists, economists, planners, dredgers, port operators, regulators, and marina and vessel owners. The Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) and the USACE Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations serve as liaisons to the U.S. National Commission. U.S. Section members, including government organizations, the private sector and individuals, work together with 40 other nations to address a broad range of policy, engineering and environmental issues for the advancement of waterborne transportation. IWR supports PIANC USA by providing the secretary and other staff members.

A “Young Professional” member of PIANC USA is described as any member (student, individual or corporate) who is under 40 years of age. PIANC USA has formed a Young Professional Group dedicated to providing opportunities for young professionals in the field of navigation to meet other professionals locally, nationally and globally.