LU hosts Panama Canal CEO Quijano
Lamar University’s Center for Advances in Port Management will host Jorge Quijano, administrator of the Panama Canal Authority, who will speak on the “Development and Operation of the Newly Expanded Panama Canal and Vision for Its Future” at 2 p.m. Friday, February 24, in Room 113 of the Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship.
The meeting will be in LU’s newest facility, the recently completed CICE building on the corner of Rolfe Christopher Drive and Jim Gilligan Way. The CICE is also home to the offices of the Center for Advances in Port Management.
The Sabine-Neches Waterway is the world’s busiest navigation channel for military traffic and one of the nation’s busiest for commercial vessel traffic. The public ports of Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange, as well as the many petrochemical terminals on the waterway have already taken advantage of the increased Panama Canal capacity. The first LNG vessel to pass through the new Panama Canal locks debarked from the Sabine Pass LNG Terminal.
“Under the leadership of Señor Quijano, the completion of the $5.25 billion, Panama Canal expansion project, inaugurated on June 26, 2016, marks the beginning of a new era in ocean transportation,” said Erik Stromberg, executive director for the Center for Advances in Port Management. “Faster transit times and lower costs are providing tremendous benefits in moving cargo between Texas ports and Asia as well as the west coast of South America.”
As Quijano said on the occasion of the first transit on June 26, 2016, “More than 100 years ago the Panama Canal connected two oceans. Today, we connect the present and the future.” Stromberg added, “We are most fortunate to hear Señor Quijano’s perspective on the impact of the new Panama Canal on world trade, and on the value of the university’s new and unique Center for Advances in Port Management.” Stromberg, who is the Center’s first executive director, has over 30 years experience in the port industry, including nearly a decade as CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities, and 10 years leading the North Carolina State Ports Authority. Quijano is a graduate of Lamar University and is at Lamar to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award that evening.
Quijano, who holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Lamar University, heads the autonomous agency that manages the leading interoceanic waterway serving world maritime commerce. He has worked with the proclaimed Eight Wonder of the World for 41 years, having begun as an engineer and product forecaster at Panama’s Texaco Oil Refinery before joining the Panama Canal in late 1975.
After progressing in his career through several important engineering and managerial positions within the Canal organization, he became the Maritime Operations director of the Canal (Chief Operations Officer), and then moved to head the expansion program as Executive Vice President for Engineering and Programs Management. In 2012, he was promoted to Administrator/CEO of the 10,000 employees Panama Canal Authority bringing the expansion project that involved an additional 14,000 workers from 36 different nationalities to conclusion with its first commercial Neopanamax transit in June 2016. This expansion is already greatly influencing how the world conducts maritime trade.
As CEO, Quijano drives a diversification strategy while promoting the development of local logistics activities to reap the most benefit from Panama´s enviable geographical position so that it can further evolve as the “Hub of the Americas.”
Quijano came to Lamar University from Panama City on a tight budget allotted by his father. He chose Lamar out of the four schools to which he had applied and was accepted because of its diverse curriculum. He thrived there, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering in 1973 and a Master of Engineering the following year as job offers lined up. He returned to Panama City in July 1974 to begin his career. In addition to his academic degrees, he is also a graduate of executive management programs from the Federal Executive Institute, Charlottesville, Virginia, and Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois.
Quijano serves as a member of the Lamar University Civil Engineering Advisory Council. He has returned to LU to lecture in the College of Engineering and to share with business, industry and governmental representatives from across this and neighboring states on the Panama Canal expansion and its impact on trade. In 2013, he received the Texas Council of Industrial Engineering Academic Department Heads (CIEADH) Industrial Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his lifelong dedication and professional excellence as an engineer. He has conducted tours of the Panama Canal for Lamar University students studying abroad, and he has selected Lamar University engineering students to participate in internships at the Panama Canal. His loyalty to the university and his continued support of the College of Engineering is credited to the hands-on instruction he received from his professors and his gratitude for his education throughout his career.