The American Public Works Association (APWA) Chicago Metropolitan Chapter’s student mentorship program continues to thrive, two years after its creation by Bonestroo’s Bill Dinchak, PE, BCEE.  Dinchak, a business development manager in Bonestroo’s Libertyville, IL office and longtime member of APWA, developed the mentorship program to help students interested in public works professions gain exposure to the field.

The APWA student mentorship program is directed to college and university students enrolled in public works-related degree programs, including engineering, construction management, computer-aided drafting and design (CADD), landscape architecture, and urban planning. The mentorship program provides students with the opportunities and tools needed to achieve career goals, including development of a professional contacts network, observance of engineering and public works professionals on the job, and internship and scholarship opportunities.

To date, 50 APWA members have volunteered to present panel-formatted mentorship programs to local colleges and universities. The presentation format allows for question and answer sessions and interaction between mentors and students. Mentorship programs have been presented at Northern Illinois University, the College of Lake County, and Elgin Community College.  As a result of a successful first round, both the College of Lake County and Elgin Community College have scheduled repeat engagements.

Additional presentations have been scheduled for McHenry County College, Oakton Community College, the Illinois Institute of Technology and Triton College. Dinchak’s goal is to present the mentorship program at all of the representative Chicago-area colleges and universities, and assist as many students as possible. 

Along with regional support, the APWA student mentorship program has attracted national attention.  APWA headquarters in Kansas City invited Dinchak to present the program via webinar broadcast to APWA chapters throughout the country; this webinar took place in February.  Dinchak will also be presenting the program at the 2009 APWA International Congress in Columbus, Ohio, on September 14. As this program is the first of its type in APWA’s history, chapter representatives throughout the country have been contacting Dinchak for information and guidance on starting programs in their own jurisdictions.

Bonestroo is a full-service engineering, planning, and environmental science firms, providing solutions to the government, private, energy, and industrial markets. Service areas include municipal infrastructure, water, wastewater, transportation, water and natural resources, land development, planning, urban design, landscape architecture, building engineering, and sports and recreation. Bonestroo’s recent merger with Northern Environmental enables the firm to provide additional services in compliance and industrial hygiene, property assessment and brownfield redevelopment, and contaminant investigation and remediation.

Headquartered in St. Paul, MN, Bonestroo has offices in Libertyville and Northbrook, IL; Milwaukee, Elkhorn, Crivitz, Green Bay, Park Falls, and Waupun, WI; Rochester and St. Cloud, MN; Cedar Rapids, IA; and Houghton, MI.  (