Engineering and Technology: Encouraging the application of technology in public works

Carol S. Estes, P.E.
Technical Services Program Manager
American Public Works Association
Kansas City, Missouri

The mission of the Engineering and Technology Committee is "to encourage the application of modern technologies that will assist public works agencies to better fulfill their missions." To accomplish that mission, the committee meets face to face two times a year and by conference calls in all other months. At its annual spring meeting, a draft business plan is developed, that when finalized and adopted, will guide the committee for the next year. This year the committee has devised a questionnaire to help gauge the needs of chapters and members in engineering-related areas. Nine subject matter areas that fall under the umbrella of the Engineering and Technology Committee have been identified. The areas are:

  • Knowledge Management Systems
  • Consultant Selection
  • Asset Management
  • City Engineer Job Function
  • Drawings and Electronic Plan Submittals
  • Coordination with Information Technology and related departments
  • Project Delivery Systems
  • Security
  • Engineering Education

In each of the subject areas, the committee will determine the answers to four key questions:

  • What is the issue?
  • Why is it important?
  • How can it be improved for members?
  • What can the committee do?

The answers to the questions will guide the committee in developing Congress sessions, Reporter articles, and publication ideas that will then be incorporated into its business plan.

Each year the committee members review selected committee-sponsored APWA publications. This year two publications, Management of Construction of Public Works Projects and Roadway Maintenance Guide, are under review. By Congress this fall, suggestions for minor edits and the addition of new material for each publication will be complete.

The committee is in contact with the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) to keep abreast of emerging ideas in design-build and the point of contact for APWA's observer on the Engineers Joint Contract Document Committee. This year the committee assisted the American Council of Engineering Companies in sending out a survey to evaluate the effectiveness of Quality-Based Selection or QBS.

The committee promotes the "Professional Manager of the Year - Engineering and Technology Award." The award seeks to inspire excellence and dedication in the private and public sectors by recognizing the outstanding career service achievements of engineering and technology professionals. The primary focus of this award is recognition of exceptional leadership and management in the area of engineering and technology. The committee believes the role of engineering and technology is vital to the success of public works agencies in fulfilling their missions, and the committee looks forward to the opportunity to acknowledge and recognize individuals who inspire excellence in the field of public works engineering and technology.

As the committee looks to the future, it is their hope to serve as a resource to chapters and members. With a diverse committee makeup which includes representation from the public, private and education sectors, it is the mission of the committee to serve the needs of members. As always, the committee welcomes any thoughts and comments.

Members of this year's committee include: Larry Woodlan, P.E. (Committee Chair), Civil Engineer, Town of Fountain Hills, Arizona; Patricia Hilderbrand, P.E. (At-Large Director), Program Management and Development Manager, City of Kansas City, Missouri; Laura Cabiness, P.E., Director, Department of Public Services, City of Charleston, South Carolina; Gordon Daring, P.E., Senior Project Manager, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., Middletown, Connecticut; Neil Grigg, Ph.D., P.E., Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado; Dean Lehman, P.E., Assistant Deputy Director, Los Angeles County, Alhambra, California; and Gary Stockhoff, Engineering Manager, TRC, Las Vegas, Nevada. The APWA staff liaison is Carol Estes, P.E.

Carol Estes serves as the liaison to three of APWA's Technical Committees: Engineering and Technology, Transportation, and Utility & Public Right-of-Way. She also serves as the point of contact for seven subcommittees: Winter Maintenance, Road Safety, Smart Growth, Right-of-Way Management, Construction Practices, GIROW, and One-Call Systems. She can be reached at (816) 595-5222 or