Grad profile

Dave Harkness

“The Next-Generation Transportation Certificate was made for me because it didn’t have prerequisites and it gave me exposure to the very current material out there."

“It became a job requirement to know more about what’s happening with transportation,” says Dave Harkness, parking services manager for the City of Surrey. After years of working in the private sector, Dave’s transition into the public sector quickly made him realize that he would need more technical knowledge for his new role. That’s when he signed up for SFU Continuing Studies’ Next-Generation Transportation Certificate.

“My first motivation was to be able to relate to the issues and know the jargon that the transportation engineers and planners were talking about,” he says. “The Next-Generation Transportation Certificate was made for me because it didn’t have prerequisites and it gave me exposure to the very current material out there. Whether it was on the weekend or on my lunch hour, the structure meant you could always find time in a work week.”

True to its name, the fully online program focuses on concepts, strategies and practices that advance solutions for sustainable transportation. “There is much more current material that the Next-Generation Transportation program exposes you to, that people who completed their degrees years ago wouldn’t be aware of,” Dave explains. In many cases, he would share what he learned at work the next day.

This type of forward thinking is critical in the transportation world—where change happens at high speeds. Ideas like automated cars are fast becoming a reality and municipalities will need to react quickly. “These things are coming…and that is going to be transformative and disruptive in a good way,” he says. “For the first time, I’m developing policy…[and] the course was great in exposing me to what’s been done and the new ideas that could shape policy.”

Photo by Greg Ehlers.

Equally useful was hearing the perspectives of global experts. Dave’s classmates represented a diversity of education, experience and geographical locations. “There were transportation planners from Vienna, Auckland and New York and front of the line transportation people, like bus drivers, from Alberta and Whistler,” he recalls. Their shared knowledge offered insight into what was happening around the world and in his own backyard.

 “Things are changing in a big way and this course brings together subject matter experts who are dealing with it,” he says. And now, having completed the Next-Generation Transportation Certificate, Dave is prepared to face these changes.

“The Next-Generation Transportation Certificate was made for me because it didn’t have prerequisites and it gave me exposure to the very current material out there."