Happy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year 2015

We are starting out the new year of 2015 still a little overwhelmed by everything that happened in 2014. This was due to several factors including an increased yet exciting work load at our primary jobs and some major changes we were making in our personal lives leaving little time to hop online and share with all of you. So because of this, as regular readers might have noticed, there have been few posts made to the site since June of last year.

We want to thank all of you for being patient with us while we were going through these changes. Hopefully they have increased our knowledge and abilities so that we can bring a new and better offering to all of you over this new year.

So what happened in 2014?

The Book! First, we’d like to review the status of the goals we set at this time last year. One of the most exciting of these was to begin writing a book that will offer information and guidance about city engineering. This effort was started about mid-year. And as each chapter is completed, an excerpt or synopsis will be posted online on the Public Works Magazine website. The first article was published last fall, Establishing the City Engineering Position, and the next one is due to be online soon. So if you’ve ever wondered about how to establish and run a city engineering department, make sure you stay tuned for the release of each article. And when the book if finally completed and available for purchase, I’ll announce it here.

WATERCON! Next, as planned, I was able to attend WATERCON in March of last year. It was incredibly informative as always. As part of this, I did set up a small demo of a WATERCON conference site in Unity3D you can check out over on the WATERCON blog site along with the other resources. However we were not yet able to develop the remaining Unity3D offerings we had planned and will most likely extend that goal into the new year along with the development of an Android app for PROWAG which we were also not able to make time to create. But with PROWAG still not yet adopted, this goal could also be extended into 2015.

The Curve Balls!The surprising, yet very positive, upsets in our careers last year were lessons in how goals can easily be redirected. As mentioned above, while we did manage to make a few of our planned goals a reality, most of our accomplishments ended up not planned at all causing us to change direction mid-year:

Not long after 2014 launched, both of us had the opportunity to be involved with the update of our agency’s ADA Transition Plan. As part of this initiative, I had the opportunity to become the ADA coordinator for my area at work. If you’ve been reading this blog for years, you would best understand what this meant to me. Accessibility and ADA related matters have long held a strong professional interest for me. (A few years back I developed a 3D ADA Toolkit for Local Government and have been working on other related resources for some time.) This opportunity allowed me to attend the Annual ADA Symposium in June of last year which was highly informative and helped to solidify my understanding of this topic. And I’ve been able to teach a few ADA courses alongside some of the professionals I’ve known and respected for a long time.

I was also asked by my co-workers to become more involved with our employee health and wellness and was allowed to became a member of our health committee. We organized bike rides after work and worked on several other programs the group regularly offers. Personally I started running regularly with their encouragement and ended up becoming significantly more fit as a result of their support and influence.>

Finally both of us were able to take more active roles in our agency in bicycle planning and design. This is still somewhat of an emerging trend in civil engineering. So while the efforts have taken over the year considerable time and commitment, we are excited to be actively engaged in our agency’s activities in this area.

So, dare we plan for 2015?

Even though 2014 was a good lesson in proving we cannot completely predict the future, we still believe it is helpful to have some type of plan. The key is understanding the plan should be flexible enough to respond to changes if necessary. So here is what we are starting out with as a general framework for 2015:

Finish that book! >Yes, we hope to finish the book on city engineering so that you can have your very own copy by the end of the year. That is a huge goal, but one we are most focused on accomplishing.

Finish developing an online PROWAG related course! Last year I also started setting up an online training course for learning PROWAG. The opening video for the course is below. When complete, the entire class will have 57 short modules designed to level someone from an accessibility apprentice to a PROWAG Master.

Develop and offer employee health and wellness resources! Because of my involvement in employee health and fitness, I’ve become more aware of just how much employers are focusing on this issue. So drawing on our own knowledge and experience, we’ll be setting up an online resource to begin offering health-related information to both employers and employees. As this goal develops, we'll keep you posted here.

So that’s it! While we would like to pursue many more goals, we will have our hands full just meeting the ones listed here. Keep stopping back to check our progress as we will try to keep you up to date on the status of each of these goals.


Finally we wish all of you a healthy and success-filled new year!



Happy New Year 2014

Happy New Year 2014

Happy New Year to all of our readers. We hope you had a great 2013 and await an even better 2014.


First we want to thank all of you for stopping by throughout the year to check out the site. We are also very appreciative for those who offer their thoughts and ideas and for people who have emailed us information to share with our readers.

A quick look back at 2013

Next we want to share with you a quick look back on 2013. For us here at the Public Works Group, 2013 was a year of some fairly drastic changes in our professional lives. In April, I changed jobs moving from one level of government to another while my partner had to say good bye to many long time co-workers who chose to retire at the end of the year. These changes have kept us fairly busy in our offline lives leaving less time than we had hoped to devote to the Public Works Group. However, the good news is that they have also driven us to learn new information and increase our professional skills which can help us provide even better information here for all of you.

As for meeting our goals last year, both of us attended, assisted, and presented at several industry events including those held by APWA, ISAWWA, and IPSI along with a few others. I continue to write for Public Works Magazine (you can check them out here in case you aren't subscribed – and by the way if you're not, make sure you sign up here to get the magazine because it's free and filled with great information and it's what all the cool kids are reading!). As for learning resources, along with the information we post on the blog, we set up a Stormwater Beta Class through 3DGameLab. And finally we created our first mobile app for Android which offers information about the 1991 ADA Requirements.

Plans for 2014

We are writing a book!  So what can we look forward to in 2014? The biggest news is that we have been kicking around the idea of a major project for some time now which involves writing a book. And it looks like we will focus on getting that at least started if not done this year. At this time, the plan is to self-publish. However, because we want to get the information out to all of you as soon as possible, we are planning to work with a major industry publication to release excerpts from the book as they become available. Once we have the first one ready, we'll let everyone know through a blog post. Then when we finally complete the entire book, we'll let everyone know where we will offer it for sale. (If you are a municipal engineer and would be interested in being a reviewer, let us know! We would also like to feature in each chapter a few short bits of wisdom and advice from other engineers, particularly those who work in local agencies, so let us know if you are interested in being interviewed.)

We will be attending and promoting WATERCON2014! Yes, you read that right – fortunately this year, I will again have the opportunity to attend and promote WATERCON 2014 – the most awesome annual, water-related event held in Illinois. Every year the place is always packed with attendees and exhibitors – everyone who is anyone in water is there. So if water is your thing, this is definitely the place you want to be in March. Make sure if you are going or if you are exhibiting, let me know, particularly if you'd like us to share information about you or your product on the WATERCON social media sites.

We are developing in Unity3D! One of our other major focus areas will be on exploring and developing a few resources in Unity3D. As I've shared in several past posts, we've been working a lot more with Unity3D, and finally it looks like we have our skills down to the point where we can offer at least some simple beta projects. In the first half of the year, our goal is to create three of these. One will be a simulation of a design project, one will be an exhibit space for an organization, and one will be training on a specific engineering-related topic. I'm not sure at this time if we will be able to share all of them publicly, but we'll post what we can.

We are writing at least one more Android App! We want to follow up with another Android Mobile App that focuses on PROWAG requirements. We do realize PROWAG has not yet been adopted, but many agencies are already following those requirements so we figured an app might be helpful for inspectors in the field.

While we could have just repeated the same general goals we set in 2013, this year we wanted to share more specific details about exactly what we were trying to accomplish. We do acknowledge with not knowing everything that awaits us in 2014 and with working other full-time jobs, successfully completing all of this will definitely be a challenge. But that's what New Year resolutions are for – pushing yourself to grow and better yourself and help others while working towards something that isn't always the easiest thing to achieve.


Disclosure notes: I do receive payment from Public Works Magazine for articles of mine that are published on their site and in the magazine. I also am offered free registration to WATERCON in exchange for attending and promoting the conference.


Establishing Professional Goals

Happy New Year 2013With the dawning of a new year I see so many people talking about their resolutions and goals for 2013. Annual goal setting is not really something I've dedicated much time to in the past. Instead, I always seemed to follow a rolling, unwritten list of goals that are separate from the ones I have at work. But this year I felt more compelled to put down in writing a set of professional goals for the year and relate them to a mission statement. Here's why I finally took this step:

  1. Helps me stay organized -over the last month or so I made a few commitments to participate in certain events or activities so this helps me organize my timeline. 
  2. Helps me stay focused and track my progress – last year I created some goals for my work in MOSES and have found it to be a great help in guiding and assessing my progress there. We also create goals at work to ensure what we do each day helps support the overall goals and strategy set by the city council. So I figured it might be a good idea to extend this approach to other areas of my life.
  3. Helps me justify what I spend time on – the practice of establishing goals and tying them to an overall professional mission helps ensure the things I choose to spend time on outside of work will help me be successful in what I actually want to achieve.

Here are the general goals. They are in addition to the goals I have at work. I have not included in this post the specific tasks I established for each. Perhaps that is something I will do at the end of the year when I assess the progress I made.

Annual Professional Goals for 2013

Mission: Promote and empower others in the use of online technologies within the public works and government industries and provide information and services to the public for the purpose of advancing the understanding of community, government, and public works.

Goal 1
Advance the understanding and use of online communication in the public works industry

Goal 2
Participate in industry organizations to advance understanding of public works and education within the public works profession

Goal 3
Develop and deliver industry education online and in-person

Goal 4
Participate in and provide value to virtual world communities such as MOSES, Second Life, and OpenSim

Of course, I also have personal goals related to family and my research in genealogy. But for those, I still don't see a need to set them down in writing. And I wonder how easy it would be to set specific tasks since family and genealogy can be so unpredictable and somewhat out of my control. I am going to see how the year goes using this set of professional goals, and depending how it works out, maybe next year I can at least consider trying it out in those other areas of my life.

If any of you create professional or personal goals, I would be interested in hearing how you establish, document, and track them.