Public works professionals attending the American Public Works Association (APWA) International Congress and Exposition at McCormick Place Lakeside Center in Chicago on Aug. 25 through 28 will receive continuing education on up-to-the-minute issues as well as ongoing challenges. APWA's Congress features more than 125 technical and professional development sessions presented by public works associates and industry vendors. Attendees can earn continuing education units that will add value to information obtained onsite.

When not in an education session, participants can check out the Expo Experience, that features live interviews and speakers. Attendees can learn about new apps at an APPs in Public Works program, and connect with friends and colleagues at cyber stations. The Congress has gathered more than 400 exhibitors to fill its estimated 90,000-square-foot exhibit floor. The lineup offers product displays, prize drawings, lunch on the floor and showcase presentations.

Topics at the APWA Congress include career and personal development, construction management, emergency management, engineering and technology and environment/sustainability. Additional topics include facilities, fleet services, management, parks and grounds snow and ice, solid waste stormwater/flood control, streets/roads/bridges, traffic engineering, utilities/right-of-way and water and wastewater.

Education programs at the Congress

The Stormwater Summit program is included with all full conference registrations. Attendees can register for the summit only for $330. The program will cover the new stormwater regulations scheduled for implementation in January 2014. The program will take place Monday, Aug. 26 and Tuesday, Aug. 27 from 2 to 5 p.m. each day.

Chicagoland’s Public Works Stories is another education offering at the Congress. Public works professionals in the Chicago region serve approximately 9.8 million residents. Their stories are featured throughout the Congress Education Program, with sessions ranging from sustainable stormwater solutions and green infrastructure goals to graffiti abatement, complete streets, transit and active transportation solutions, capital project planning and financial cost savings, Illinois’ Mutual Aid Network, and fighting the emerald ash borer. City officials will participate in a “Make No Little Plans” program on Monday afternoon, Aug. 26, that tells the story of Chicago public works.

A Wednesday Workshops/Tours program takes place Wednesday, Aug. 28. These workshops and tours are open to full-conference and Wednesday one-day registrants, but attendees must sign up in advance. The workshops and tours include the Chicago Bike Lanes and Cycle Center (additional $30 bicycle/equipment rental fee is required). The 130th and Torrence Avenue Project tour features the world’s largest truss bridge. Other workshops and tours include the Jardine Water Purification Plant, Chicago’s Green Roofs, Tree and History Tour of Millennium Park and Chicago Deep Tunnel.

Education sessions to choose from during the conference include:

  • Assessing Vulnerabilities of Infrastructure to Climate Change
  • Green Streets and Porous Pavement: Lessons for Sustainability, Savings, and Success
  • Using Technology to Its Fullest Potential
  • Watersheds Know No Political Boundaries: A Look Into the Benefits and Challenges of Watershed Permitting
  • Documented Road Safety Benefits of Adaptive Traffic Signals

Keynote speakers

The New York Times columnist and author Thomas L. Friedman will take the floor in Sunday’s opening General Session. His book, “That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back,” chronicles four challenges we face as a country — globalization, the speed of change in information technology, chronic deficits, and our pattern of energy consumption.

At the Tuesday General Session, Author Cy Wakeman will discuss leadership. She will tell how to be the kind of leader who helps employees change the way they think about and perceive their circumstances. According to event promoters, Wakeman’s “ideas will help us stop managing and start leading by breaking through resistance, conflicts, and excuses to solve long-standing issues.” Wakeman will also present an afternoon workshop called “Reality-Based Leadership: A Deeper Dive.”

ESPN Analyst, Pro Football Hall of Fame Player and Super Bowl winning coach Mike Ditka will close the general session on Wednesday with a talk on “ACE: Attitude, Character and Enthusiasm.”

More information

Other benefits to attending this conference include a first-timers meeting, get-acquainted party, APWA blood drive, Canadian Public Works Association luncheon, Public Works Historical Society luncheon, young professionals reception, 5K fun-run/2-mile walk and golf tournament.

For more information, visit the APWA Congress website.

See a preview of the 2013 APWA Congress.