Virginia Tech® home

Course Descriptions

Mid-Atlantic Public Works Institute Header

The Certificate of Completion in Public Works Leadership requires a minimum of 90 hours of classroom training. The total certificate hours are divided into the following separate three-day sessions.

Session I: Introduction to Supervision
Participants will learn about the fundamental issues facing supervisors in public works occupations with an emphasis on ethical leadership.

Topic areas covered are:

  • An introduction to Public Works Process
  • Basic organizational design
  • Dealing with internal and external customers
  • Understanding of line-staff roles and relationships
  • Selecting and training new employees
  • Workplace safety
  • Managing workplace stress
  • Effective crew scheduling
  • Time management
  • Delegation and motivation of employees

Session II: Leadership and Management
Participants will learn the critical skills required to be an effective, ethical leader in a public works organization.

Topic areas covered are:

  • Creating action plans
  • Negotiation skills
  • Formal and informal business communication
  • Basics of project management
  • Understanding generational differences
  • Team development
  • Developing a personal leadership strategy
  • Emergency management

Session III: Finance, Law, Media, & Communications
As a leader in the field of public works, the ability to understand legal and financial issues and then be able to effectively relate that understanding to the public via many and varied media outlets is a critical skill. This session provides the necessary information and various strategies required to be a professional, ethical, and effective leader in today’s world.

Topic areas covered are:

  • Public relations
  • Media relations
  • Social media
  • General legal issues
  • Employment law
  • Liability and public works
  • The regulatory process
  • Roles of local, state, provincial, and federal legislative/executive bodies
  • Finance and budgeting
  • Alternative funding strategies
  • Asset management
  • Purchasing/inventory management
  • Wastewater
  • Stormwater/floodwater management master plan
  • Business letters/report writing
  • Ethics

Session IV: Executive Leadership
To be a truly effective leader in today’s "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" world actually requires the long view. Long term planning, a systems perspective, strategic thinking, and ethical decision-making are skills that the most visionary leaders of history possessed. This session provides insight into these skills.

Specific topics covered are:

  • Presentation skills
  • Organizational self-assessment
  • APWA Accreditation
  • Equipment and fleet management
  • Strategic planning
  • Policy development and implementation
  • Creating and growing sustainable communities
  • Leveraging resources with other entities
  • Systems thinking within public works
  • Data based decision making in public works
  • Succession planning