WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A seasoned construction professional dispatched in response to Hurricane Katrina, Randy Rapp found out fast that a disaster recovery job presents special challenges, with time of the essence, unanticipated and difficult conditions in play, and immediate, accurate and thorough responses required literally around the clock.

“I had the background in construction, but I was missing the nuances that make disaster recovery different,” said Rapp, an associate professor in the School of Construction Management Technology in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute.

Rapp’s experience prompted him to develop an online course from Purdue University that teaches a working knowledge of how disaster recovery differs from conventional construction and techniques for addressing almost any type of disaster. The course, offered through Purdue Online, enables those who take it to better plan, and execute plans, for disaster recovery.

Conventional construction professionals who want to gain disaster recovery skills can benefit from Purdue’s Disaster Recovery Certificate course, as can individuals looking to gain practical knowledge in project management and the construction field in general. The course also is useful for professionals in careers involving disaster management, such as employees of cleanup firms and insurance companies, and for personnel from government agencies who may guide disaster recovery efforts and work with contractors.

The curriculum is built around recovering from a larger regional disaster with the idea that if a professional can plan and execute a response to a major disaster, then adapting to a smaller disaster should come naturally. The emphasis is on preparing someone to get up to speed quickly in disaster situations.

Beyond disaster project management techniques, the fully online Disaster Recovery Certificate helps disaster professionals ask the right technical questions about restoration and employ people with suitable technical skills. It features four modules introducing different kinds of damage, including water damage, smoke and fire damage, microbial damage and personal property damage.

Topics range from the impacts of various disasters and the differences between disaster recovery and conventional construction to communications and documentation.

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