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Lauren Letsche Shares Her Experience of the 2022 PWX

September 20, 2022

Lauren Letsche Shares Her Experience of the 2022 PWX

Article submitted by Lauren Letsche, Engineering Technician/Stormwater Specialist, City of Columbia Heights, and APWA-MN 2022 YP Stipend Recipient

Ready and Resilient, was the theme for PWX 2022 in Charlotte, NC. Thank you to the MN Chapter for providing me with the opportunity to attend the conference. I was able to attend PWX when it was in Minneapolis, but this was my first out-of-state PWX. Being able to fully experience the conference and the networking opportunities it provided was an experience that will stay with me throughout my career. 

I was able to start the conference off with a young professional orientation and connect with other young professionals from across the United State and Canada. The session was very interactive. The room split up into groups and had the opportunity to discuss topics the National Young Professionals group could consider for the next Young Professionals Summit. 

The expo hall was a great opportunity to speak with different vendors and find solutions that could help any community. The Charlotte Chapter came up with a scavenger hunt with new clues each day to be completed in the expo hall. Each participating vendor had a prize you could show for getting the correct answer to the clue on the scavenger hunt card. For completing the scavenger hunt you would be eligible for a prize drawing of an assortment of gift cards. What a great way this was to start a conversation with the different vendors! The expo hall also provided some animal interactions, the Charlotte Humane Society brought adoptable dogs each day in hopes of finding them their forever home. 

The educational sessions offered a variety of topics that showcased how public works is ready and resilient. There were a few other themes I noticed while attending the educational sessions. Many communities are starting to use drone technology to help with modeling and data collection. I attended a presentation on using a drone to capture the locate marks done prior to a project. This information can be used to depict underground utilities more accurately during the design process. The other theme that seemed common in the educational sessions was equity, inclusion, and diversity. These sessions often involved break-out opportunities for the attendees to share and brainstorm new ideas to be brought back to their organization. Staff shortages have been seen across industries as we emerge from the pandemic, and an educational session on employee retention was very popular among the sessions offered. How can we think outside the box to attract new employees and what can we offer as an organization that will make them want to stay? The presenter offered ideas that had been implemented at her organization, some of these included looking at job descriptions and benefits that are appealing (i.e., employer-sponsored childcare). There are currently more open positions than there are unemployed which makes the options for employment in favor of the job seeker. 

The Charlotte Chapter set up a variety of technical tours on the last day of the conference. I attended the walking tour of the cycle track in Uptown Charlotte. There were several different treatments used to separate bicyclists from motorized traffic. Concrete medians were used as a means of dividing the two modes of transportation, delineators were used when the cycle track was on street and a median was not needed, and a large concrete platform was used when near a high-traffic bus area to allow for ease of loading and unloading of the buses. 

The closing general session was NASCAR driver, Julia Landauer. She discussed her path to success in a male-dominated field. A key point that was made during the session was to take what situation you are in, own it, and make the best of it even if it is not the situation you expected to be in. The public works industry has shown over the last couple of years how they can be Ready and Resilient, and this closing session encompassed that. It will be exciting to see what opportunities next year’s PWX Conference in San Diego, CA offers.









Lauren at the Get-Acquainted Party at The NASCAR Hall of Fame









APWA-MN Chapter YPs at the Chapter Dinner

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