Gigantic equipment display greets 2003 APWA Congress attendees

More than 6,400 public works professionals gathered in San Diego, Calif., to learn about state-of-the-art management techniques and see millions of dollars worth of high-tech equipment, vehicles, tools and services. Spread across more than 100,000 square feet of exhibit space, the American Public Works Association's (APWA) 2003 International Public Works Congress and Exposition, held Aug. 24-27 in San Diego, was one of the largest public works exhibitions held in the last decade.

Over 500 exhibitors at the San Diego Convention Center drew crowds offering up-close looks and hands-on inspections of gigantic pieces of earth-pushing, snow-removing and road-building equipment used by public works departments throughout the world. Demonstrations of the latest techniques in peering inside a sewer system, providing clean water, managing public fleet and buildings and using the World Wide Web as a management tool were also offered.

More than 150 technical, professional and educational sessions were held with topics ranging from how to be an effective advocate for public works to community outreach strategies. It was obvious by the most popular choices that public works professionals are aware of the need to practice state-of-the-art management techniques; to be outspoken advocates for investment in infrastructure; and to know and use the latest computer technology.

Dwayne Kalynchuk, P.E., senior consultant for Stantec Inc. (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) became the new APWA President during the Opening General Session on August 24. Kalynchuk accepted the presidential gavel from 2002-2003 APWA President Martin Manning, director of public works for Clark County, Nev.

Presenting the keynote address at the Opening General Session was John Naisbitt, futurist and best-selling author of Megatrends, Global Paradox and High Tech High Touch. Naisbitt, who has over 35 years of experience in the international arena, particularly Asia, shared his views about leadership and growth in a vastly changing world. In an insightful presentation, Naisbitt stressed that we are living in a time of great uncertainty, but also a time filled with opportunity. “One of the difficulties in understanding the direction in which we are headed is that we are living in a time between eras, between the old world and the new world of unprecedented technological, economic and social change,” he said.

On Tuesday, Aug. 26, General Robert Flowers, Commander, Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), met with public works directors and representatives of large cities, counties and other public agencies during the APWA Urban Forum meeting. Facilitated by Urban Forum vice-chair Paul Vanderploog of Hillsborough County, Fla., General Flowers discussed the many roles of the Army Corps, including homeland security and infrastructure development, as well as one of its newest missions, supporting the reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a separate meeting with APWA leaders, including President-Elect Tom Trice, General Flowers pledged support for working closely with APWA and members on common issues and local projects.

Wednesday evening, Aug. 27, was the final conference event when more than 500 attendees gathered at the San Diego Marriott Hotel for the Grand Banquet. Incoming APWA President Dwayne Kalynchuk, former APWA presidents and the new APWA Board of Directors were introduced to the attendees.

In Kalynchuk's speech to the gathering, he mentioned how proud he is to be associated with public works professionals. “I know of no group where the members — individually and collectively — apply themselves more diligently in helping each other,” he said. “Therein lies the strength of our organization, which was conceived with the lofty ideal of helping those in public service find the means to help themselves in doing a better job.”

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