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IPWEA CEO David Jenkins: Why our members are so vital to a functioning society

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Although much of the population doesn’t realise it, society wouldn’t function without public works engineers. When our rubbish is collected or we drive to the shops – even when we flush the toilet – we’re benefitting from the efforts of dedicated professionals behind the scenes. And many of those professionals are members of IPWEA.

As an organisation, IPWEA takes its support role very seriously. We recognise the vital importance of public works at all levels of government and in the private sector, and we believe we have a key part to play.

We have always advocated for the interests of public works engineers and helped various stakeholders in Australia and around the world connect with each other. But in this era of unprecedented social and technological transformation, we believe our job has become bigger and more important than ever. Public works is changing, and fast. We believe it is our responsibility to keep the sector abreast of these changes.

IPWEA education in action

As it is doing in so many fields, technology is challenging established practices in public works while presenting exciting new possibilities. Asset-tracking systems are a prime example: they’re helping fleet operators more effectively manage their assets by collecting detailed information and performing sophisticated analyses on that data. We’re providing comprehensive coverage of asset-tracking developments in our member publications.

Sustainability is another increasingly relevant consideration for the field of public works. As taxpayers become more concerned about the effects of climate change and more educated about environmentally friendly possibilities, our sector must look for sustainable alternatives to materials and practices that we have considered standard for decades.   

Consider roading. It’s a critical activity guided by a range of regulations and requirements, and public works engineers bear ultimate responsibility for carrying it out. Recently, there has been a push from some taxpayers to incorporate more sustainable materials into roading – but the individuals agitating for change have provided little detail about the pros and cons of using these materials. We at IPWEA believe we have a role to play in educating our sector about sustainability and helping public works professionals navigate this emotionally charged issue.

IPWEA’s new micro-credential in asset tracking (set for release late 2021) is a major component of our response to the rapid and significant changes that are currently taking place. We’re proud to be offering training that demystifies the latest advances in technology and positions participants at the forefront of our field.

Also this year, we have released a significantly revised sixth edition of our industry-standard International Infrastructure Management Manual (IIMM) containing expanded coverage of climate-change risk and resilience, new guidance on data management and much more. Meanwhile, our news website InSite and our e-newsletters InTouch and Fleet InTouch provide thoughtful analysis of the latest developments.

By keeping our members up to date with the latest technology and rolling out an unmatched educational offering, we believe we’re helping public works engineers do their best work. As the sector continues to evolve, our dedication will not waver.