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by Ville Alatyppö, Street & Park Maintenance Director for the City of Helsinki and CEO of the Finnish Association of Municipal Engineering

Where do new ideas usually come from? How many new ideas have you had in your everyday work in the last year? How do organizations and inviduals develop themselves in a modern world where competition is a strong driving force?
These are questions that I have faced every day since graduating nearly 20 years ago. As a fresh engineer, I thought that I knew everything, but reality hit me. On every day work in public works you do not need just engineering skills. Management, leadership and especially interaction skills are the most important skills because they help you to cope every day. However, like Einstein said “we can not solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”.
I am just saying, that probably you can not see or invent new solutions if you do not have any kind of experience or stimulus outside your everyday life. And that’s one reason for APWA's Jennings Randolph International Fellowship – to help you and your organization (and even all the people in North America) – to manage better in the future.
There have been nearly a dozen JR Fellows or other public works professionals who have visited Finland in the last decade and I have kept in contact with nearly all of them afterwards. The main feedback from them has been that the JR study tour opened their mind and eyes to things 'outside the box'. Many of those numerous experiences they gathered during their study tour they have been utilizing to their career and organisations.
Finland is very small Nordic Country and we have been successful in many ways even though our resources are not enormous. But we have found one damn clever path to be in the top ten countries by many global measures. And that is learning from the best and developing that learning even further. The Finnish Association of Municipal Engineering (“brotherhood association” to APWA) has been actively operating study tours to North America, Australia and New Zealand, etc. to learn from the best in public works. After the study tours, we actively spread new learnings so that we develop the best service to the public.
How do you bring new solutions to the public or customers that you serve?


By Kevin Chang, Ph.D., P.E.
2012 Jennings Randolph International Fellow, New Zealand

When discussing the topic of school transportation with a large group, a common icebreaker activity is to ask audience members to raise their hand if they walked or biked to school as a child. Audience members are then asked to keep their hands up only if they allow their own child to walk or bike to school. In almost all cases, the forest of hands drops by a significant margin.

The reasons for this decline in walking and biking have been well-documented. Both parents may be working outside the home so there is simply not enough time to accompany their child on the trip to and from school. There are perceived concerns about a child’s personal safety, which can take the form of either “stranger danger” or the challenge of crossing a busy arterial roadway. Lastly, higher land costs and siting requirements force school districts to build new schools away from residential communities, so these schools may not be walking or bicycling-friendly from day one.

My visit to New Zealand in 2012 as a Jennings Randolph Fellow served as an invaluable opportunity to learn how my Kiwi colleagues addressed these common issues. I met with both school principals and school district administrators throughout the North Island, and there were many opportunities to exchange common practices. My experience confirmed that despite the geographic distance that separates our two countries, the overall goals of any public agency and school district staff are the same, namely to provide the safest environment possible whenever a child chooses to walk or bike from home to school.


For young children, walking or biking represents a habit-forming behavior that will last a lifetime. If we want our next generation of adults to be active and to lead health-conscious lives, then the importance and value of these transportation options must be established at a young age.

As a transportation professional, allow me to share one additional experience from my trip nine (!) years ago that will forever remain etched in my memory. Shortly after my long flight across the Pacific Ocean, I made my way over to the rental car parking lot. When I opened the driver-side door, I chuckled when I saw a dashboard staring back at me instead of a steering wheel. You can imagine the anxiety that I felt when I exited the driveway of the parking lot and immediately encountered a traffic circle at the next intersection.

To the future recipients of the Jennings Randolph Fellowship, may your experience be just as rewarding as you engage with new friends, share ideas, and bring fresh perspectives back to your workplace.


By Tyler Palmer
2011 Jennings Randolph International Fellow, México

While casually flipping through the APWA Reporter, an announcement calling for applications for the Jennings Randolph International Fellowship Program caught my eye. I had never heard of the program, and decided to go to the page advertised to see what it was all about. Little did I know that this moment of curiosity would have a significant impact on my public works career and life in general!

In 2011, I was selected as a Fellow, and conducted a study tour in Ixtapa, México. I was interested in learning how they approached road maintenance with very limited budgets. It was so gratifying to find that, despite differences in language, climate, government etc., we all confronted the same fundamental problems, and the spirit of service and creativity that attracted me to public works in the first place, seemed to be universal.

Tyler in Chihuahua, MX  with officials from the European Union, City of Chihuahua, and ICELI

I wrote a report on my findings and experiences, and presented to my City Council, many local and regional groups, the APWA Rocky Mountain Chapter, and at Congress (now PWX). I was amazed at the level of interest in my study tour, and was happy to be able to share my experiences.

Tyler in Saltillo, MX with officials from the Mexican Federal Government and ICLEI

Through the process of organizing and conducting my study tour, I met a lot of great people including Bob Cass, who was the Chair of the Latin American Task Force (LATF) for APWA’s International Affairs Committee (IAC). After completing my fellowship tour, Bob asked if I would be interested in joining the LATF. I indicated that I was. This led to an appointment on the IAC, chairing of the LATF, and eventually, I became Chair of the IAC. Over the course of my years on the IAC, I had the opportunity to represent the APWA at a number of conferences in México, and was able to continue to build on the relationships I had formed during my JR Fellow trip.

I now serve on the Government Affairs Committee, and recently helped facilitate a new APWA partnership with a large engineering association in México.

As a result of a well-placed call for applications in the Reporter, doors opened for me that I never could have imagined. I have made public works friends from across the globe, given countless presentations on my experiences, brought valuable ideas back to my home city, and helped promote our industry at home and abroad. It was truly a launch-pad for continued involvement in our industry on a level I didn’t previously know was possible!


by Clive Cawthorne, PWLF, Jennings Randolph International Fellowship Review Task Force Chair, and Member, APWA International Affairs Committee

Australia has an equivalent Foundation to APWA's Jennings Randolph International Fellowship, known as the Municipal Engineering Foundation of New South Wales (MEF).

The Municipal Engineering Foundation (MEF) plays a large role in supporting the activities of the Institute of Public Works Engineering Association (IPWEA) of NSW and its members.

In early 1998, the Institute of Municipal Engineering, Australia (IMEA) called for expressions of interest for members to travel from Australia to the USA to attend the annual Congress and Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, followed by a study tour up the west coast to investigate ‘Sustainable Cities’.

Six NSW members of IMEA were chosen to represent Australia at the Congress and to sign a ‘Deed of Agreement’ between the USA and Australia.

Those chosen consisted of the City Engineers of Fairfield, Strathfield (Sydney Councils), Junee and Kyogle (Rural Councils), a Water and WasteWater Manager from Gosford (a large Regional Council) and myself working as a Traffic Engineer in a small City / Rural Council of Lithgow NSW.

At first, I thought that the Foundation must have made a mistake in my selection, considering the senior positions that the others held, but after further discussion with the selection panel, it became clear that there had been no mistake.

Travelling with us would be an Engineer from Victoria, Australia, who was self funding his own travels and also Chris Watson who was the CEO of the IMEA, NSW, acting as our guide.

As I had never travelled outside the shores of our island country before, especially without family or friends, it was a daunting several months wait to front up at the International Terminal and meet my new travel buddies. I don’t think I have ever been so apprehensive in my life, but there was no turning back now.

The group got to know each other whilst on our 15 hour journey across the Pacific and that friendship continues to this day.

The Australian Contingent landed in LA and stood out in the crowd because we all wore ‘Greg Norman’ white Akubra hats. These hats were worn to Business Meetings, the Congress Opening and Closing Sessions and have now become the symbolic trademark of all Australian Contingencies that followed us.

This twist of fate went on to be the turning point of my Public Works Career.

My overseas experience opened doors that otherwise would never have opened, including my elevation to Deputy City Engineer on my return from the Congress and Study Tour, joint presentation of ‘Sustainable Cities in the USA’ at the next annual IMEA Conference, greater liaison with State and Federal Parliamentary Members, Public Works Piers, the Business Community and the General Public.

Within 2 years I had been promoted to City Engineer and often Acted in the position of City Manager.
I firmly believe that the path my career took was directly related to the day I was chosen to represent Australia on that World Stage.

The 1998 Australian Contingent to the APWA Congress & Expo followed by Sustainable Cities Study Tour of the West Coast of the USA.

Conditional upon attending the Congress & Expo was that we all become financial members of the APWA and as such, this also commenced my long term affiliation with the Association and various Committees, Subcommittees and the Donald C Stone Mentoring Program.

I didn’t get the opportunity to attend the Conference again until 2011, some 13 years after my first excursion to the USA, but from 2011 through to 2019, I have made it a ‘must do’ to attend PWX & Expo (sadly, I couldn’t attend in 2020 due to COVID & PWX Cancellation), where my wife and I catch up with life long friends each year to exchange both Public Works Advancements and of cause to socialize enough until we can meet again in person.

One of my most memorable experiences working with and for the APWA, Donald C Stone Mentoring Program was attending the 2018 graduation of one of my mentees, Mr Josh Bertrand from Glendale, Colorado. Josh received the title of Public Works Executive (PWE) but more importantly, we had struck up a fabulous friendship which now extends to both our families as well.

Being part of a Foundation / Fellowship changed my career path and life!!!!!!

It Could Change Yours TOO!!!!

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