ACI is incorrectly perceived sometimes as a U.S.-focused association, or more generally as a North American Institute. It is very true that the American Concrete Institute, as the name and the history suggest, has strong roots in the United States and North America, but it is equally true that ACI is a global organization.
The facts and numbers corroborate this.
The ACI 318 Building Code is adopted, either directly or as a main reference, in the national code of more than 30 countries, representing around 45% of the world gross domestic product (GDP) and 30% of the world population.
Our Institute has around 21,000 members, including corporate and sustaining members. Out of these, 30% are from outside the United States, and ACI also has just over 3600 international student members in more than 30 countries.
ACI has a total of 43 international chapters in 31 countries. In parallel, ACI has 39 international agreements with regional partners in six continents.
In addition to ACI chapters involved in certification, the Institute has 17 international local sponsoring groups organizing ACI certification programs in more than 20 countries. ACI certification has been recognized as an essential tool to assess the competence of concrete professionals, even in some countries that adopt different standards than ACI and ASTM International.
All these numbers clearly underline the global influence of ACI. Still, given the pace of concrete construction around the world, especially in Asia, it is fair to say that the Institute must be even more present internationally to fulfill its mission of disseminating knowledge globally and achieve the vision where "everyone has the knowledge needed to use concrete effectively to meet the demands of a changing world."
How? There are several initiatives currently underway at ACI aiming to increase our global clout. I am confident we will start seeing some results very soon. At the ACI Concrete Convention and Exposition – Spring 2017 in Detroit, I cited three targets for 2021 that should reflect increased international engagement for ACI in the next 5 years. They are called the 100,000, 10,000, and 1000 milestones.
By the end of 2021, ACI will have 100,000 student members around the world. Students and Young Professionals define the very future of the Institute. Being able to attract them is an insurance for ACI relevance. Not all civil engineering students end up in concrete construction but for those who will, ACI must be the preferred platform for professional networking and career development. We will work with ACI chapters around the world to encourage local and regional student competitions and develop a career support center for young professionals.
Secondly, by 2021, 10,000 projects around the world will be linked to the ACI Manual of Concrete Practice (MCP), the Institute's largest knowledge source. This resource is still so untapped nationally and internationally. We will find innovative ways to communicate to the world the technical, practical, and commercial value of the tremendous intellectual capital our volunteers bring to ACI.
The MCP is invaluable for every concrete construction project. The wealth of information that it encompasses can undoubtedly help address the challenges and opportunities concrete presents around the world. We will design different tools and means to make the ACI MCP accessible to projects, with hands-on guidance provided by ACI staff and intelligent workflow solutions available in ACI publications.
Finally, the third goal is that by the end of 2021, ACI will process 1000 international certification exams every month. This is around 10 times what the Institute does today. By recognizing the local standards of different nations and regions in ACI certification programs, ACI will become the global enabler for assessing the competence of technicians, inspectors, quality control managers, and other levels of concrete practitioners and professionals.
These are hard numbers, in every sense of the word. But with the energy and dedication of ACI staff and volunteers, these milestones can become very achievable targets in 5 years.