Exclusive Interview: NACE’s Executive Director Bob Chalker

By Contributing Editor | February 7, 2013

Bob Chalker, executive director of NACE, spoke with Coatings World about the organization’s upcoming CORROSION 2013 Conference and the latest issues related to corrosion control.

Coatings World:  What is the mission of NACE?
Bob Chalker: The mission of NACE International is to protect people, assets and the environment from the effects of corrosion. The organization, a global nonprofit headquartered in Texas, was established in 1943 by eleven corrosion engineers from the pipeline industry as the “National Association of Corrosion Engineers.” The founding engineers were originally part of a regional group formed in the 1930s when the study of cathodic protection was introduced. Since then, NACE International has become the global leader in developing corrosion prevention and control standards, certification and education. The members of NACE International still include engineers, and also numerous other professionals working in a range of areas related to corrosion control. Today NACE international serves nearly 30,000 members in 116 countries and has offices in the U.S., China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

CW:  What services does NACE provide to its members?
Chalker: If you have a career in any subject area, you have to look around and ask “what organization can help me with my job or with my career?” NACE is that organization, for anyone in the corrosion control industry.  NACE offers several membership options at individual and corporate levels. Individual members receive benefits which build their skills and credentials in the industry, including free downloads of valuable NACE standards and thousands of technical papers, subscriptions to NACE publications, networking opportunities, leadership opportunities on hundreds of committees, discounts on training, conferences and certification renewals and more. Corporate members receive similar benefits for employees as well as numerous opportunities for brand exposure throughout the year and customized training programs.

CW: What are the major industries concerned with corrosion control and what are the key issues they face?
Chalker: Major industry sectors impacted by corrosion include infrastructure, utilities, transportation, production and manufacturing and government. Everything from residential piping to bridges to defense assets are at risk of corroding and there are different ways to prevent and control corrosion of those assets. Maintenance is a key factor because often it costs less to control corrosion than it costs to rebuild or replace existing, corroding assets. One of the key issues many industries face is related to budgeting. In some cases corrosion control may not be adequately factored in to new construction, potentially reducing the useful life of an asset by years and even decades. In other cases, it may be a misperception that once an asset has corrosion damage, the corrosion cannot be stopped, which is not the case. NACE International is working to raise awareness about the importance of corrosion control across these industries, especially among decision makers who are not familiar with why corrosion control is important and how proper implementation and use of corrosion control technologies, such as coatings, can extend the life of an asset and result in significant savings over the life of that asset.

CW: What are the most exciting technological advances being developed and/or used in corrosion control today?
Chalker: Protective coatings often serve as the first line of defense against corrosion.  New tablet-friendly technology offering cloud-based jobsite documentation is changing the way coatings professionals do their work. Instead of managing stacks of paperwork, today’s coatings professionals can now manage those same documents from an iPad or other device from the job site in real time. Also, coating manufacturers are developing products with lower volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and higher solids to meet requirements in the U.S. (the Northeast and California primarily) and there is a similar growing trend in Europe. NACE has also seen rapidly increasing interest in fireproofing and high-temperature coatings education. In 2012, NACE hosted its first Bring on the Heat conference which received so much positive feedback it’s led the organization to host three Bring on the Heat conferences this year in the U.S., India and Malaysia.

CW: What can attendees expect from the CORROSION 2013 Conference and Expo?
Chalker: As always, attendees can expect the most comprehensive assembly of corrosion control education, information, and professionals representing every aspect of the industry. The conference will host technical symposia, committee meetings, seminars and lectures, training opportunities, and networking opportunities where attendees can obtain invaluable information for their careers and share knowledge with their peers. The exhibition will host 375 companies featuring the latest in corrosion control products and services. NACE International expects more than 5,000 attendees from 70 countries to come to Orlando for CORROSION 2013. This year’s conference and expo also marks the organization’s 70th anniversary so attendees can expect a few special surprises in recognition of this milestone.

CW: What are NACE’s plans for the future in terms of offering its members new services/information?
Chalker: NACE is always seeking new ways to serve its members better and in 2013 the organization launched a new corporate membership program which offers new benefits our corporate members have requested such as access to an exclusive corporate lounge during NACE’s annual conference and expo, company exposure online and in NACE publications, education discounts and free recertification for participating corporate member representatives, promotional opportunities, unlimited downloads and much more. Individual members will see some new activities this year including the launch of the NACE International Corrosion App which provides tools such as conversion charts, corrosion calculators including Ohm’s law and various coatings calculators, a searchable directory of NACE certification holders worldwide, career center access, NACE publications, an event calendar and member access to update personal profiles. Through the new NACE International Institute, members will see an increased focus on supporting the growth and quality of certification for the corrosion control field, improving business conditions of the industry, and promoting public safety, protecting the environment and reducing the economic impact of corrosion.

NACE’s CORROSION 2013 Conference will be held March 17-21 in Orlando, Florida. The exhibition will feature 375 companies displaying the latest in corrosion control products and services. In addition, the cathodic protection (CP) test field will return to the exhibit floor for the second year, and the association’s anniversary will be commemorated with a display of antique corrosion instruments from as far back as the late 1800s.
The technical program, with more than 30 symposia, will feature several new offerings, including corrosion mitigation of fire protection systems, corrosion issues related to water systems and the environment and the relationship between coatings and CP.
An added attraction in the conference host city is a new corrosion exhibit at the Orlando Science Center—a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Defense Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office and the University of Akron, with on-site support by NACE. The interactive exhibit will be geared toward children to introduce them to the field of corrosion, with activities that include inspecting fully built bridges to identify coating and corrosion damage.
For more information go to www.nace.org.

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