Editorial by Johan Vyncke & Mark Alexander - November 2017

Dear RILEM members,

Let us summarize our annual week in a nutshell: Two pre-event workshops, 18 sessions, 2 post-event workshops, 5 TC meetings, 5 RILEM standing committee meetings, numerous cultural events, and nice social gatherings and visits …. Those were the elements of the cocktail of events at our 71st RILEM annual meeting which was held at the beginning of September in Chennai, India. It is one of the amazing things about RILEM annual meetings, each rises much above the expectations of the participants and is unique.

This time we were particularly spoiled by our honorary President Manu Santhanam and RILEM Vice President Ravindra Gettu, who had organized the event in such a way that all social happenings were complementary for RILEM members. We had an inside look at the Tamil and Keralan cultures. We were lucky to be at the time of Onam (harvest festival) for the welcome reception. We were greeted by a magnificent pookalam (flower arrangement), we attended traditional folk dances and an impressive show of Kalarippayattu (martial art). During lunches, we discovered the widely varying and exquisite Indian cuisine with different delectable dishes every day. On the technical side, we were impressed by a most interesting multi-material programme centred around most interesting keynotes and congress papers focusing on recent evolutions.

At the annual week, an international partnership agreement with Alconpat was also signed with Prof. Carmen Andrade who is now president of Alconpat and has been a most prominent RILEM past president. It will be a pleasure to work closely with Carmen and Lat-RILEM in the coming years, in implementing this partnership.

At the General Council, it was clear that the association and its publishing subsidiary are doing financially very well. So more than ever, it is a good timing to try new ventures and invest in our future. Some important decisions were made in this respect:  to broaden the free membership of students in North Africa - Middle East and India; to expand the web services after it had been nicely revamped, to include now also services geared for web meetings and e-workshops.

Our open-access journal ‘RILEM Technical Letters’ is flourishing. Two new associate editors were added to the Board of Editors, reaching now 10 associate editors from all over the world.

In Chennai, we also had the fastest ever implementation of a new measure in RILEM, which was instituting a new award for a Student posters. The idea was launched during the Bureau meeting and everyone agreed enthusiastically. Immediately, a jury was formed, and the award was given during the plenary session on the last day of the conference.

As Surendra Shah said in his introductory keynote, our next honorary president Eric Schlangen will have a tremendous challenge before him to come up again with a new format… but for sure the famous Dutch cheese and milk lunches, will bring a special local flavour, and we are sure we can trust the innovative approach of our Dutch colleagues. So, challenging times are clearly ahead with respect to our next RILEM week and having a view on our first ever Spring Convention to be held in Barcelona… More to follow on this in our New Year’s message to come. First, however, please read the detailed report of the Annual Week in Chennai in this newsletter.

Johan & Mark