Adult Education Expands

Kudos to ENR for its excellent article "Industry’s Learning Curve," about corporate training and education and employee development (ENR 4/11 p. 22). Many leading industry companies have made employee professional development a top priority. However, there are many more firms that lack the technical or in-house resources to establish similar programs.

To help fill that void, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association Transportation Development Foundation this year launched a first-of-its-kind executive education program for the transportation construction industry. Building transportation infrastructure, particularly projects financed by public agencies, demands complex leadership, management and negotiating skills not required by other types of managers.

The ARTBA-TDF’s "Transportation Builder Project Management Academy" was developed specifically for construction project managers and supervisors involved in building highways, bridges, rail and transit systems, airports, parking facilities, waterway and port projects. Two dozen industry project managers attended the inaugural session held in early February at Clemson University. The program was built around an acknowledged, highly successful adult learning model, taught by leading university professors and experts in the field and supported by peer-to-peer knowledge sharing.

The event was so successful that ARTBA is planning further academy sessions on business management training for transportation executives, and we are exploring developing a core business program for small business owners of transportation construction firms. It is our way of demonstrating our commitment to helping educate, develop and mold the future leaders of our industry.

Way Ahead

I read with interest your article about talking over the Internet (ENR 5/2 p. 24). Has the author just discovered this miracle? We have been talking over the Internet using [voice-over-Internet provider] Skype ( to our offices on three continents for over 18 months and using text and SMS messages on Blackberry devices. Combined, they have reduced our monthly phone bills, which used to exceed $15,000, to under $300 per month.

Internet phone capabilities, combined with text messaging, is going to change telecommunications forever. What you provided barely qualifies as an incomplete overview.

I travel extensively internationally and I know people outside the U.S. who have means and education. For the most part, they far surpass their U.S. counterparts in accepting and utilizing any type of Internet or phone-related technology. In any event, for a small company doing international business, we really have made a difference and with virtually no additional investment. I am proud of that.