APWA is in the process of developing a series of formal educational degree pipeline programs that would someday start in preschool and continue through graduate school. From the time that a youngster builds that first bridge using popsicle sticks or builds a community with sugar cubes to when that same individual, as an adult, designs the infrastructure that promotes growth in a healthy and thriving community, there should be a series of interrelated educational programs that support progression in the public works profession. These programs, when combined with apprenticeship and internships, should attract the best talent in North America to join the ranks of dedicated public works professionals.
APWA currently has partnerships with the University of Nebraska and Norwich University. Both universities offer master’s degrees in public administration to aspiring public works professionals. The capstone projects coming from these programs contribute significantly to the well being of communities and to the growing body of work in public works.
Similarly, there are a considerable number of engineering programs that have graduated professional engineers who have entered public service and consulting. These programs, however, are not integrated with other educational programs that produce professionals who contribute to public works. The missed opportunity is obvious when young professionals stumble onto public works job opportunities by chance. Public works as a career choice should not be a chance opportunity or an interesting coincidence in academic progression. It is important that a clear path be built that allows each student to see the many options available within public works.
APWA is now proposing to link existing programs into a system that would match student interest, talent, energy and growing experience. On the technical side, this webbed system should include the trades and their system of progression linked to engineering schools. In the professional areas which include sociologists, anthropologists, urban planners, and business administrators, professionals should have a clear academic path to join other public works professionals. Education in leadership should be a part of all the educational options and should be part of the rich history of public works.
We hope that in the future, a student looking at career choices will see a clear path to community service in public works, and that the young preschooler will happily see how a community works and how community helpers play a big role in their daily lives.
We will continue to report progress we have made in building this educational pipeline and hope that you will return to read about new developments and consider contributing some of your time to this effort.