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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > April 2009 > FHWA Introduces Quality Assurance Specification Course
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-09-012
Date: April 2009

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FHWA Introduces Quality Assurance Specification Course

A new online course available from the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) National Highway Institute (NHI) provides participants with an introduction to statistical analysis and the development of statistically valid quality assurance (QA) specifications for highway construction projects. By using statistically valid QA specifications, agencies can obtain a more uniform product, better link project payment to the product received, and reward contractors for quality. The free 8-hour course, SpecRisk Quality Assurance Specification Development and Validation (Course No. FHWA-NHI-134070), also introduces SpecRisk, a new software program available from FHWA that enables users to successfully develop statistically valid specifications. Participants will have the opportunity to download SpecRisk for future use.

Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Understand key concepts necessary to develop an effective, statistically valid QA specification.
  • Make an informed selection among available options when developing a project acceptance plan.
  • Develop QA specifications in alignment with best practices, Federal regulations, and FHWA policy.
  • Use the SpecRisk software to understand risks and develop statistically valid specifications.

The course requires a solid foundation in basic statistics. Prior completion of the NHI course, Materials Control and Acceptance—Quality Assurance (Course No. FHWA-NHI-134042), is also recommended.

Quality Assurance Training

NHI, in partnership with FHWA's Office of Infrastructure and Resource Center, offers a suite of QA training courses and workshops to meet the needs of State and local transportation agencies and industry. The goal is to emphasize the importance of implementing a QA program, as well as to standardize QA practices across the country. "The training courses are geared toward different levels of expertise, covering everyone from construction personnel to staff who develop specifications," says Mike Rafalowski of FHWA. In addition to the new SpecRisk course, the following training is now available:

  • Materials Control and Acceptance—Quality Assurance (Course No. FHWA-NHI-134042). This recently updated introductory course provides participants with an understanding of the basic elements of a statistically based QA program. Participants will learn techniques for collecting, organizing, analyzing, and interpreting data. The course is designed for personnel who develop specifications. It also serves as a 1-week module for the 6-week Highway Materials Engineering Academy (Course No. FHWA-NHI-131023).
  • Transportation Construction Quality Assurance (Course No. FHWA-NHI-134064). This intermediate-level course was developed to ensure that agency, contractor, and consultant personnel responsible for interpreting and applying QA specifications in transportation construction are properly qualified. The course is available in both 1.5-day and 3-day versions. Topics covered include QA program elements, quality measurement, the evolution of QA specifications, and the roles and responsibilities of both contractor and agency personnel.

Also under development is a course on QA Specification Development and Validation.

In addition to the NHI courses, the FHWA Resource Center is offering a 1-day workshop, Introduction to Percent Within Limits: The Quality Measure of Choice. The workshop provides participants with an overview of quality measures, details on how to use percent within limits (PWL), and specifics on computing PWL. Hands-on exercises provide participants with the opportunity to compare and contrast quality measures and compute PWL for sample materials data. The workshop is offered at no cost to the host agency. For more information on scheduling the workshop, contact Dennis Dvorak at the FHWA Resource Center, 708-283-3542 (email: dennis.dvorak@fhwa.dot.gov).

To learn more about the various NHI courses, visit the online NHI Training Catalog at www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov/training/brows_catalog.aspx. For more information on FHWA's QA resources, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/pavement/qa/index.cfm.

The SpecRisk course is designed for Federal, State, and local highway agency engineers in the areas of materials, construction, and research who are developing statistical specifications. The training is also appropriate for industry personnel who are involved in reviewing and providing input to the specification development process.

Photo. Road construction equipment prepares a road for paving. Soil is turned up in the forefront of the photo. To the right, a roadway worker in an orange safety vest and hard hat is visible.
By using statistically valid quality assurance specifications for projects, transportation agencies can obtain a more uniform product.

"The Michigan Department of Transportation and FHWA's Michigan Division office are looking forward to using SpecRisk when we begin reevaluating the concrete pavement acceptance program in Michigan this spring. The online training was easy to follow, and the downloadable presentations will be useful as a reference once we begin the risk analysis," says Robert Conway of FHWA's Michigan Division office.

For more information on scheduling the course, visit www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov, or contact the NHI Scheduler at 703-235-0534 (email: NHITraining@fhwa.dot.gov). For more information on QA specifications, contact Mike Rafalowski at FHWA, 202-366-1571 (email: michael.rafalowski@fhwa.dot.gov), or Matt Corrigan at FHWA, 202-366-1549 (email: matt.corrigan@fhwa.dot.gov).

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Updated: 04/07/2011

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