I've enjoyed all of them
Dwayne Kalynchuk, P.Eng.
Editor's Note: The 2004 APWA International Public Works Congress and Exposition takes place September 12-15 in Atlanta, Georgia. The APWA Reporter caught up with President Kalynchuk during his visit to the New England Chapter's Summer Workshop to get his thoughts on our upcoming conference.
In your travels over the past year, have you found that there is excitement among our members for the upcoming Congress?
I would certainly say yes. There is recognition amongst the chapters about how important Congress is, and as the date comes closer people are more looking forward to attending it.
How has attending Congress benefited you personally?
Well, for myself and my public works career, there are four areas where it's helped. First of all, it's an opportunity where I can go and see the latest equipment and technology. With the way things change in public works, it really is great to be able to go to one place and see what is new in the industry when it comes to the equipment and software that we use.
Another benefit is to learn and see how public works organizations have handled situations over the past year. Throughout North America numerous disasters occur during the year, and it really is interesting to see how other organizations have handled the situations. I have learned from them.
The third area is that it gives me an opportunity to reconnect with old friends, which unfortunately you only see once a year at Congress. But you really can reconnect and touch base with them. This refreshes my "Contacts" and I know who I can contact throughout the year as challenges arise.
But the last area is the opportunity for personal enhancement, which is the real benefit of Congress these days. It provides more than advancing your professional career. There are opportunities to add to your personal set of skills as well.
What would you recommend to the First Timers to help them get the most from their Congress experience?
Congress can be a little overwhelming, so it's good to prepare ahead of time. So when you get the Congress Program in the mail, study it and see what sessions you want to attend. If there are concurrent sessions, perhaps you can split up with another individual and cover both.
Also, go to the equipment show each day. At first you might have to just walk around and get the overall effect of "The Best Show in Public Works," but as you go back a second and third time you can focus on specific items that may be of interest to you and your employer.
Finally, do attend the First Timers session. Excellent advice is given there, and it provides attendees the opportunity to learn the most productive methods of using their time at their first Congress.
What about for the Congress veterans—can they continue to find value in attending year after year?
Well, it's interesting. Here at the New England Chapter Workshop, I ran into George Russell with Atlantic Broom. He's gone to every Congress since 1963 with the exception of one. That's over forty Congresses. And he tells me every year it's interesting and important for him to connect with his clients.
I think that's the benefit of Congress. It changes so much each year, that with the keynote speakers and other activities, it really is interesting for both the veterans and the newcomers.
Speaking of keynote speakers, in Atlanta the first keynote speaker is going to be Heather Swan. I enjoyed hearing her speak when I was in Australia last October, and we were fortunate to get her to be our first keynote speaker at Congress when I'll still preside as president.
How important and worthwhile are the social functions at Congress?
The social functions give you a taste of the local flavor of the community, whether it's San Diego, Atlanta or New Orleans. You're able to see the sights and experience the food of the community, and usually that's done with your colleagues from your chapter. And the Get Acquainted Party historically involves the local chapter, so it really is a good opportunity to socialize.
Is there any past Congress that stands out in particular for you?
I've enjoyed all of them, particularly in St. Louis many years ago when the Get Acquainted Party was held at the World's Fair Exhibit Grounds, and was quite an impressive show. But all Congresses have been memorable, particularly with the locations, whether it's San Diego or San Francisco or Denver. Each one has been unique and usually has a fond memory for me. Personally, San Diego is the most important since that's where I became president.
How about Atlanta itself—have you spent much time there and, if so, which of its attractions would you recommend?
Interestingly, with all my travels in North America and overseas, I haven't been to Atlanta, so I personally am looking forward to it. I'm a big race fan, and to me Atlanta is the center of NASCAR, so I'm looking forward to going out to the NASCAR track and seeing what Atlanta has to offer for a car race fan.
What else would you like to add about our upcoming show?
Well, I'd like to ask people to make sure that they thank the local committees. Those folks work hard to put on the conference, so anytime that people see somebody in a local committee shirt, be sure to thank them or ask any questions that you may have. That's why they are there, to provide you with any guidance that you need.
One thing people have to keep in mind is that we have more than five hundred exhibitors and one hundred thousand square feet of exhibit floor. So it really is an important opportunity to see the exhibits. With regards to the educational program, there's usually over 150 sessions. The equipment show and the sessions are both tied to your professional and personal career, so it's an excellent opportunity to partake in both, and socialize with some great people across North America.