Ibn late 2019, Abydee Butler Moore, head of Butler Gas Products and President of GAWDA’s Board of Directors, approached CGA’s Vice President of Operations and Administration Laura Brumsey with an idea for a Young Professionals Summit for Compressed Gas Association and GAWDA members. CGA’s Young & Emerging Professionals Committee had just recently been formed, and Laura was excited to work with this new group to bring Abydee’s vision to life.

Then COVID-19 hit and plans for the Summit got put on the back burner. That is, until April, when the committee’s technical education task force made it clear that this type of programming was more needed than ever. The decision was made to take the Summit online and move ahead with an event in August 2020.

Laura put out a call for subject matter experts who would be willing to share their time and knowledge with our industry’s young professionals. More than 40 subject matter experts responded, providing support for 10 virtual sessions. Each session would feature an hour-long presentation, followed by a moderated panel and open question and answer session.

CGA and GAWDA partnered together to co-host this groundbreaking virtual series: the 2020 Young & Emerging Professionals Summit, and Weldcoa signed on as event sponsor. This innovative series of online events was designed to provide unparalleled learning opportunities for the compressed gas industry’s next generation of great safety thinkers and leaders. It would be offered free for all qualifying participants.

Individual webinars covered an exceptional lineup of educational topics, including: cylinder filling; oxygen safety; cylinder valves, pressure relief devices (PRDs), regulators, and connections; hydrogen; container filling (cryogenic liquefied gases); carbon dioxide; air separation unit pumps and compressors; and cylinder and valve failure analysis. Sessions were designed to focus on communicating the reasons for requirements in today’s safety standards, including lessons learned through incidents, near misses, and the personal experiences of speakers and panelists.

The Summit closed out with a final session on how new participants can gain the most from their participation in CGA and GAWDA. This session featured a joint presentation from Rich Gottwald, CGA President & CEO, and John Ospina, GAWDA’s Executive Director. Following the presentation, a panel discussion was held with young professionals from both CGA and GAWDA who provided invaluable insights into their experiences participating in both associations as well as their thoughts on what the industry can do to attract and retain young professionals in the near future.

Summit attendance was limited to young and emerging professionals who work for member companies in good standing with CGA or GAWDA (in order to register through GAWDA, an individual’s company had to participate in the CGA publications subscription program). “Young and emerging professionals” are defined as those aged 45 years or younger, OR someone who is new to their area of industry operations.

In the end, the 2020 Young & Emerging Professionals Summit would become CGA’s largest training and education event ever. Over the course of 10 sessions held in just 6 weeks from August 18 to September 29, 2020, we hosted more than 2,000 participants, from 100 companies, who work in dozens of countries around the globe.

We wish to extend a warm note of gratitude to GAWDA for co-sponsoring the Summit with CGA; to Weldcoa for sponsoring this event; to all of our speakers, panelists, and moderators for sharing their time and expertise; to the participants who dialed in from around the world; and to all those committee members and staff who worked so tirelessly behind the scenes to make each session such a success.

Session 1 (August 18)

“Knowledge Management & Succession Planning – Key Conversations, Combating Knowledge Loss, and Preparing for Advancement”

  • Keynote Speaker: Dr. David Delong, Smart Workforce Strategies
  • Panelists: Jack Finn, FIBA Technologies; Richard Pawulski, Air Liquide; Kelvin Dixon, Matheson; Allison Earlbeck, Earlbeck Gases & Technologies
  • Session Moderator: Hector Villarreal, Weldcoa
  • Session 2 (August 25)

“Air Separation Unit (ASU) Pumps and Compressors”

  • Speaker: John Bernard, CGA Consultant
  • Panelists: John Bernard; Dr. John Somavarapu,
    Air Liquide; Patrick Smith, Air Products & Chemicals
  • Session Moderator: Anu George, Air Liquide

Session 3 (August 27)

“Cylinder Filling: Industrial and Medical Gases”

  • Speaker: Kevin Klotz, Weldcoa
  • Panelists: Don Renner, Weldcoa; John Willenbrock, CGA; Terran Bergdale, A-OX Welding Supply Company; Rob Stauder, Linde
  • Session Moderator: Zach Fowler, Praxair Distribution Inc., a member of Linde

Session 4 (September 1)

“Hydrogen: Production, Storage, Transport, and Emerging Applications”

  • Speaker: Pierre Drolet, Air Liquide
  • Panelists: Pierre Drolet; Tom Drube, Chart Industries; David Farese, Air Products & Chemicals; Carl Rivkin, Nikola Motor Company
  • Session Moderator: Alessandra Martin, Messer Americas

Session 5 (September 3)

“Cylinder Valves, Pressure Relief Devices (PRDs), Regulators, and Connections”

  • Speaker: Jerry Sameth, CGA
  • Panelists: Jerry Sameth; Shaun LaGrange, Linde; William Hald, Rotarex; Rohit Behani, Tekno Valves
  • Session Moderator: Zach Fowler, Praxair Distribution Inc., a member of Linde

Session 6 (September 15)

“Carbon Dioxide Production, Filling & Emerging Applications”

  • Speaker: Dave Burgener, CO2 & N2O Consulting
  • Panelists: Dave Burgener; Bud Klotz, Weldcoa; Matt Erwin, Airgas, an Air Liquide company; Andrew Stride, Matheson
  • Session Moderator: Laura Brumsey, CGA

Session 7 (September 17)

“Container Filling: Cryogenic Liquefied Gases”

  • Speaker: Dave Mason, Roberts Oxygen Company
  • Panelists: Dave Mason; Kevin Klotz, Weldcoa; Tom Badstubner, AsteRisk; Kevin Kimker, Cee Kay Supply
  • Session Moderator: Jake Kilgas, Airgas, an Air Liquide company

Session 8 (September 22)

“Oxygen Safety: Cleaning, Compatibility, and Lessons Learned”

  • Speaker: Sid Phakey, Linde
  • Panelists: Sid Phakey; Bud Klotz, Weldcoa; Dr. John Somavarapu, Air Liquide; Jim White, Praxair
  • Session Moderator: Sara Beers, GenOx Transportation

Session 9 (September 24)

“Cylinder and Valve Failure Analysis”

  • Speaker (Cylinders): Steve Gentry, Worthington Industries, Pressure Cylinders
  • Speaker (Valves): Richard Paciej, PhD, Linde Electronic Gases and Specialty Products
  • Panelists: Steve Gentry; Richard Paciej; Greg Eytchison, Western Enterprises
  • Session Moderator: Laura Brumsey, CGA

Session 10 (September 29)

“Panel & Roundtable Discussion: Leveraging CGA & GAWDA Participation”

  • Speakers: Rich Gottwald, CGA & John Ospina, GAWDA
  • Panelists: Abydee Butler Moore, Butler Gas Products; Justin Guitreau, Tekno Valves North America; Anu George, Air Liquide; Zach Fowler, Praxair Distribution Inc., a member of Linde; James Reebel, Air Products & Chemicals
  • Session Moderator: Hector Villarreal, Weldcoa

Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive, with all sessions averaging a 4.6 out of 5 rating. Many attendees reached out to express their sincere appreciation for the knowledge gained in these sessions, particularly the history lessons and real-life experiences that were shared.

One attendee stated “[This session] was by far the most detailed Oxygen Safety presentation I have had the privilege of watching. It was extremely helpful to see the videos and photos shared. By actually showing and explaining industry specific examples of where the hazards and mistakes are occurring, young and emerging professionals like myself, can learn and be, hopefully, safer moving forward.” Another shared their most valuable takeaways from the event, noting “Listening to other people in the industry who are just as passionate about doing things correctly. Most things were reminders, but vital that we hear them more often.” Many participants also particularly enjoyed Kevin Klotz’s live walkthrough of a cylinder filling area, which provided an opportunity to see different types of equipment.

Planning for the 2021 Young & Emerging Professionals Summit has already begun, and a call for presenters will be circulated in early 2021. We look forward to working with the industry’s leading experts to continue the knowledge transfer that started at this year’s event.

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