I just returned from the International Foundations Congress & Equipment Expo (IFCEE). Believe me, the emphasis for this show is definitely on the equipment. Sure, the expo offered lots of space inside for exhibitors like National Driller, whose “equipment” consists of a stack of magazines and a friendly handshake. But outside, it was another story altogether.

Rows and rows of rigs, big and small — but mostly big — filled acres in the parking lot of the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa. Those rigs included everything from large-diameter drills to micropile drills to caisson drills. In addition, attendees could see the latest in tooling and technology. If you wanted equipment to take on just about any type of specialty civil construction or foundation project, you could find it at IFCEE.

It was a driller’s playground.

I put together a little photo gallery for my readers. From that, you can see the event included well-known players in the international foundations industry, including Atlas Copco - Mining Rock Excavation, Bauer, Bay Shore Systems, Foremost, Fraste, ICE, Watson and many others.

Of course, there’s more to a big event like IFCEE than the expo (though that’s the fun part). It also featured big name lectures on important topics. National Driller interviewed a couple of those lecturers in advance. We spoke with Donald A. Bruce, president of Geosystems, about his Karl Terzaghi Lecture. We also got insight from Frank Rausche, co-founder of GRL Engineers and Pile Dynamics, on his Osterberg Lecture. We didn’t speak with him leading up to this event, but National Driller interviewed Jerry DiMaggio, this year’s O’Neill lecturer, back in 2013. Each of these men has made important contributions, so it’s worth clicking through to hear from them in their words.

There were also professional development credit hours for topics ranging from in situ testing to foundation design to safety. For an industry professional seeking the latest tricks of the trade, this event was must.

The sprawling resort, as the name implies, sits on rolling hills about 20 miles north of downtown San Antonio. I was a little disappointed that the event was so far from the city center — a $50 cab ride, one way, people told me. Seeing a little bit of San Antonio, other than the busy, hilly northern suburbs, would have punctuated the trip nicely. But, that should be less of a concern for the 2018 show, when it moves to Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa in Orlando, Fla., which is a five minute walk from Downtown Disney.

If you’re in the foundations or geotechnical industry, it’s worth marking your calendar for March 13-17, 2018. Heck, I just write about the industry and I was glad I went this year. Just think about how much you’d get out of it if you work designing or testing foundations, or running the rigs building them.

Stay safe out there, drillers.