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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-14-002    Date:  January/February 2014
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-14-002
Issue No: Vol. 77 No. 4
Date: January/February 2014


Training Update

by Nicole Markisohn

Free Webinar Series Offers Practical Solutions

Practical solutions to help field personnel do their jobs more effectively day to day are an essential component of efforts to train the current and future transportation workforce. The National Highway Institute (NHI) developed the Real Solutions seminar series to facilitate the quick and effective transfer of industry knowledge among transportation professionals. The series consists of webinars covering topics that have included road safety audits, roadway tunnel design, evacuation planning, and bridge preservation.

Real Solutions launched as a collection of articles in 2007, and then became a free series of monthly webinars in 2008. “We recognized a need for a national forum where transportation professionals could discuss their experiences solving problems in the field at the State and local level with the broader transportation community,” says Rick Barnaby, director of training at NHI. “Innovative problem-solving is happening every day, and now through the Real Solutions seminar series, we have a venue for that information to be shared.”

Cutting-Edge Information from Industry Experts

Each webinar is available at no cost to participants and features leading national experts presenting cutting-edge industry information. A recent webinar, for example, outlined changes to the bridge design specifications regarding drilled shaft foundations that were approved by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Subcommittee on Bridges and Structures just a week before the webinar took place.

Presenters also provide real-world examples from their experiences in the field, detailing how to develop and implement solutions. A webinar called “Performing Pre-Construction Phase Road Safety Audits (RSAs)” demonstrated the positive impact of pre-construction audits by reviewing a case study of a proposed improvement to a California roadway. This proposed improvement included the addition of a complex merge. By conducting a pre-construction audit, planners were able to determine that improved guide signs were critical to the safety performance of the roadway.

By enabling experts to deliver information directly to a nationwide network of transportation professionals, the Real Solutions seminar series helps ensure that the transportation workforce is kept up to date on key advances in their fields.

Screen shot. A screen shot from a webinar on performing preconstruction phase RSAs, showing a PowerPoint® slide with two photos from a field review. At the left of the screen are boxes providing audio information for viewers, the list of webinar attendees, and a chat session for users to interact with each other and with the presenters.
Real Solutions webinars, like this one on performing preconstruction phase RSAs, are recorded and available free on the NHI Web site.

The seminar held in June 2013, “Innovations in Non-Destructive Testing for Deep Foundations [Thermal Integrity Profiler] TIP,” featured a state-of-the-art testing method for drilled or bored deep foundation elements. The presenter was an engineer who helped design and develop the testing equipment. In addition to discussing the new testing method, the presenter explained the advantages and disadvantages of other testing methods and answered attendees’ questions about the practical application of each method.

Connecting Transportation Professionals

Conducted as Web-conference trainings, the webinars create a two-way channel of communication and enable subject matter experts to interact directly with transportation professionals across the country. The webinars also are widely accessible--anyone with a telephone and a Web browser that supports Adobe® Flash® can participate. A recent Real Solutions seminar connected more than 130 transportation professionals from a variety of backgrounds and organizations to discuss the practical application of a new modeling technology that provides 3–D design visualization for RSAs.

Real-time poll and chat capabilities engage attendees in the seminar content, enabling the presenter to respond to questions and discuss information most relevant to the audience. This direct line of communication ensures that attendees have the opportunity to solicit the information they need to apply in their day-to-day activities in the field.

Recordings of previous webinars, including discussions and question and answer sessions, are available on the NHI Web site at www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov/about/realsolutions.aspx. To register for upcoming webinars, visit the Web Conferencing Event Calendar at www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/webconference/eventcalendar.aspx.

Nicole Markisohn is a contractor for NHI.




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