Inaugural academy concludes after 3 sessions, 96 hours
Several years in the planning process, a 12-day training academy for ITD engineers concluded last week in McCall. It drew on the collective knowledge and experience of veteran engineers to provide relative newcomers greater understanding of their roles in the transportation department.
The first class of 16 engineers finished the final of a three-week series by looking at civil rights issues, record keeping, claims and legal/tort issues. They began the training with a four-day session May 9-13 at Sun Valley and followed with a second week of instruction (June 13-17) in Worley.
Jim Ross, now retired as chief engineer, recognized the need to provide engineers with additional training several years ago, based on the number of construction-related claims, change orders, personnel turnover and the number of new engineers.
“Initially we looked outside of ITD for curriculum and instruction,” explains Greg Laragan, assistant chief engineer for operations. “After evaluating what was available from other state transportation departments and determining the major subject areas to be covered, we realized that a multi-week training session would be required and concluded that ITD would have to develop our own training.
“This commitment to training for the resident engineers is very similar to that required of both traffic and materials engineers.”
He turned to the Division of Highways training staff and to experienced resident engineers to build the foundation of an academy that leads from an introduction of strategic planning to legal and environmental issues.
“We have engaged all of the assistant engineers who have responsibility for construction to help design and provide the training,” Laragan explains.
In addition to ITD staff, representatives of the Federal Highway Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers provide academy instruction.
Instruction extends beyond technical knowledge to include the skills engineers need to do their jobs and the resources to call upon when they don’t have the answers.
“It (the academy) focuses on construction-related topics, although it extends beyond construction to areas like project organization and management, environmental planning, scheduling and civil rights,” Laragan says.
The academy includes three four-day sessions (a total of 96 hours of instruction), each of which begins at 1 p.m. on Monday and concludes at noon on Friday. Most of the participants are staff engineers, Engineer 1s or transportation staff engineer assistants.
“We want to have a balanced mix of experienced construction personnel with those who are less experienced. Although the veterans may not have as much to learn from the course, they have an abundance of knowledge and experience that can benefit others,” Laragan says.
Each session includes a three-ring binder of materials, copies of PowerPoint presentations, interactive exercises and class participation.
Academy topics include:
Academy instructors/presenters include: Laragan, Lisa Stewart, Brent Jennings, Andrea Storjohann, Ed Johnson (FHWA), Bob Kohnke, Elaine Davis, Brenda Wood, Julie Caldwell, Scott Malone, Pat Lightfield and Cheryl Rost, among others.
“We will re-evaluate the curriculum annually and work on developing material that does not rely on a specific person to deliver it,” says Laragan, who serves as the academy sponsor.
Two more rounds of instruction are scheduled, which should reach most of ITD’s present engineers. Other three-week sequences will be added when appropriate.