ACMA’s annual Composites Build America National Lobby Day held May 22-23, 2013, in Washington, D.C., connected attendees with nearly 40 representatives, senators and their staff. Attendees participated in the first-ever Federal Market Growth Symposium, allowing them to hear from leaders of Federal agencies with programs that will impact the composites industry.

Through the Composites Growth Initiative (CGI) programs, ACMA is creating opportunities to educate decision makers with efforts and events like the Composites Build America Open House at Lobby Day, which was an interactive open house that displayed composites products to the representatives and their staff.

Tom Dobbins, chief staff executive at ACMA, spoke with Steve Spencer, technical and business development specialist at Ershigs, Inc. during Lobby Day about the need for educating end users:

Tom: When Ershigs first met with Columbia Power about a wave energy converter, what was their thinking?

Steve: The thinking when I first approached them was that the construction of the entire wave energy buoy itself was going to be made out of carbon steel and composites were never on the table as an idea or even a thought. I was able to convince them with data, corrosion resistance and strength-to-weight ratios that composites were the way to go to make it through the ocean environment. And it’s been a great success. We’ve had several prototypes in the water for over a year, 13 months at a time. And they’ve come out with absolutely no degradation to the material and they performed above expectation.

Tom: So, clearly in this case you were able to educate them about composites, but ideally, they would have already been aware of composites so they would be chasing you down instead of you having to chase them down.

Steve: Exactly. We have to educate people to realize what composites offer and that’s my sole purpose with Ershigs is to get people to realize what advantages composites have; you know I’m a huge believer in composites.