ICAT conference highlights the transportation industry
Bringing together business leaders, government officials, and renowned scholars, the Innovations Conference on Asphalt and Transportation (ICAT) sponsored April 5–6 by the Department of Civil Engineering and Construction, gave 20 civil engineering and construction students a distinct learning and networking opportunity. ICAT’s objective is to promote business alliances, align and leverage new partnerships, help secure new funding sources, and turn risk into opportunity. The CEOs and executives of the largest organizations in infrastructure spoke at the sold-out 24th annual conference in Peoria that was attended by more than 430.
Dr. Amir Al-Khafaji (above, left) chairman of the civil engineering and construction department, and ICAT honorary chairman and Caterpillar Inc. CEO Doug Oberhelman (above, right) honored Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn with the Heartland Sustainability Award. The annual ICAT Heartland Sustainability Award honors exceptional individuals for extraordinary leadership and original work in developing, employing, and supporting the principles of sustainability.
A business leader at Walmart, JOHN WELLING ’91 encouraged “fierce conversations” about the importance of the convergence of business and engineering on Bradley’s campus and in the global market. The Fortune 1 senior vice president of supply chain management and information technology for Walmart Japan was the inaugural speaker in March for the convergence planning that is ongoing between the College of Engineering and Technology and the Foster College of Business Administration.
“I’m passionate about plans for the engineering and business convergence at Bradley,” said Welling, who previously worked for 14 years for Accenture. “My career has been centered around combining the two.”
He credits Dr. Joe Emanuel, associate dean of the College of Engineering and Technology, with recommending a business minor to complement his industrial engineering major. “That’s what led me to start to make that leap into the business world,” said Welling, who also “loves the problem-solving methodology and the skill set I have from being an industrial engineer.”
Welling said he works to overcome barriers between business and engineering by talking in stories rather than in technical terms. He chooses words and terminology that everyone can relate to, and he advocated “sitting down and really understanding the other side of the table. And quite frankly,” he added, “the best way to do that is to get to know someone in a social setting. Collaboration is the key.”
The University is planning an engineering and business convergence center that will transform the culture of learning in the two colleges, providing students with a distinctive cross-disciplinary educational model to better prepare Bradley graduates to meet the challenges of the global marketplace.
Engineering and business have converged in Welling’s personal life, as well. He and his wife TONIA KIZIOR WELLING ’92, who holds a degree in business, recently relocated to Japan with their four children.