TTI Day 2007
In honor of his first TTI Day as Director of the Institute, Dennis Christiansen wore the shirt given to him several months earlier by plaid-adoring, outgoing director Herb Richardson at his retirement party. “This is the first time this shirt has been worn,” Christiansen announced, prompting laughs from the nearly 400 employees who were able to attend the thirteenth annual event.
Although the atmosphere was jovial, there were some thoughtful discussions about TTI’s status and the efforts underway to make it stronger. In his “state of TTI” address, Christiansen emphasized that the results of the employee survey put TTI at the top of other state agencies.
The keynote speaker, Texas A&M University System Chancellor Mike McKinney, congratulated TTI for its Half Pint Library Book Drive. Employees raised $1,047 and a total of 475 books that were distributed to Half Pint Libraries in each city where TTI maintains an office.
The Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS) program was recognized with the second annual TTI Team Award, named in honor of Richardson.
TTI Day Award Winners
- Kwaku Obeng-Boampong—New Researcher Award
- Shawn Turner—Researcher Award
- Jim Benson—Senior Researcher Award
- Gerry Harrison—Division Technical Support Award
- Cynthia Lowery—Division Administrative Support Award
- Clyde Hance—Administrative Technical Support Award
- Karen Smith—Administrative Professional Staff Award
- Tanya Swisher—Administrative Support Staff Award
- Greg Richmond—Charles J. “Jack” Keese Career Achievement for Agency Support
- Tim Lomax—Charley V. Wootan Career Achievement for Research
First Keese-Wootan Fellowship Awarded
The first Keese-Wootan Transportation Fellowships were awarded at TTI Day on May 2, 2007. “The Keese-Wootan Transportation Fellowship was established to honor two long-time directors of the Institute,” stated TTI Director Dennis Christiansen. “Jack Keese served as Director from 1962 to 1976, and Charley Wootan headed the Institute from 1976 to 1992. Both were nationally recognized transportation researchers and both were active in numerous local, state, and national organizations.”
“The fellowships recognize and reward TTI employees who are full-time or part-time graduate students at Texas A&M University,” noted Katie Turnbull, agency associate director and chair of the Keese-Wootan Transportation Fellowship Committee. “Having had the opportunity to work with and know both Jack and Charley makes helping implement the fellowship very rewarding. They both set very high standards for research excellence and integrity at TTI.
Mrs. Doxie Wootan, wife of the late Charley Wootan, and Mrs. Jan Amyx, Jack Keese’s daughter, were on hand to present the first fellowships to Cameron Williams, Rachel Stensrud, and Ben Sperry, all Masters Students in the Texas A&M University Zachry Department of Civil Engineering and TTI Graduate Research Assistants. Cameron Williams received a $1,500 fellowship, while Rachel Stensrud and Ben Sperry were awarded $750 fellowships.
“These fellowships mean a great deal to me and our family,” noted Doxie Wootan. “Charley came from a large family, and education was very important to him. Charley would be very pleased that these fellowships are helping young people advance their education and their careers.”
“It was a pleasure to participate on the selection committee and to present the awards today,” stated Jan Amyx. “It was great to learn about the talented young people who are getting their start in transportation and to see the huge group that makes up the TTI family today. My dad would have been so thrilled with the honor.”
Behrens to Retire from TxDOT
After 37 years with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the last six years as its executive director, Michael Behrens has announced his retirement effective August 31. The announcement was made in a letter to Texas Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson.
Behrens, a Texas A&M University civil engineering graduate, noted the changes he has seen at the agency during his career. “The name of the Department itself went from the Texas Highway Department to the State Department of Highways and Public Transportation to TxDOT. When I started, plans were still being drawn by hand, calculations made with mechanical calculators and measurements done using tapes and surveying chains,” Behrens wrote.
Despite the changes, Behrens said the dedication and commitment of the employees to “getting the task done, day in and day out” has not changed.
TTI Director Emeritus Herb Richardson worked closely with Behrens as they both headed up their respective agencies. “Mike has provided innovative, dedicated and ethical leadership to TxDOT during a time of tremendous change in the transportation enterprise in our state,” Richardson said. “He has been a stalwart supporter of university-affiliated transportation research in Texas, and I wish him well.” Behrens was one of the speakers at Richardson’s retirement ceremony last fall.
“I will always be an advocate for the Department and the need for providing adequate transportation infrastructure for this state. I will continue to inform and educate. Thank you for allowing me to serve the state of Texas in this position,” Behrens wrote.
Trejo Receives Barclay Fellow Award
David Trejo, TTI division head for constructed facilities and Texas A&M University associate professor in the Construction, Geotechnical and Structural Engineering Division, has been named a Charles H. Barclay ’45 Fellow.
The honor was presented to Trejo during the spring meeting of the engineering faculty on May 3. Colleagues describe Trejo as “energetic, enthusiastic and innovative and a leading researcher in the field of corrosion of metals and service-life prediction for construction materials.” Trejo has conducted more than $3 million in research for the Texas Department of Transportation alone. He has twice been awarded an Eisenhower Faculty Fellowship and twice a NASA Summer Fellowship.
Rosowsky Honored By Tufts University
Tufts University awarded David Rosowsky, head of the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering and holder of the A.P. and Florence Wiley Chair, an Outstanding Career Achievement Award for Tufts Graduate Alumni. Rosowsky was one of two recipients honored as graduate alumni who have excelled professionally.
“I have a very close relationship with Tufts University,” said Rosowsky, who stays involved with his alma mater in several unofficial capacities including serving as an external reviewer for Tufts School of Engineering. “I was privileged to attend Tufts University.”
Rosowsky received the award at the Tufts graduate awards ceremony in April and said he was very grateful for the recognition.
Tufts University’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department also recognized Rosowsky for his success when it presented him with its inaugural Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award in 2005.
Rosowsky has also been a professor at Oregon State University where he held the Richardson Chair in Wood Engineering and Mechanics before joining the Texas A&M faculty in 2004.
Teens in the Driver Seat Program Receives ITE Award
Texas Transportation Institute’s (TTI) “Teens in the Driver Seat” (TDS) Program was recently selected as the 2007 recipient of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Transportation Achievement Award for Safety. This award recognizes significant and outstanding transportation achievements by entities concerned with transportation.
The TDS Program is led by TTI Division Head Russell Henk and Research Specialist Bernie Fette, who continue to expand the initiative in Texas and beyond. “We’re very blessed to have TTI Administration and Texas Department of Transportation Commissioner Hope Andrade as champions of our efforts,” says Henk. “There is no way we could have accomplished what we have in the last year without their generous support.”
TTI Director Dennis Christiansen will be accepting a plaque on behalf of the TDS Program team at the Honoree’s Dinner held at the start of the ITE annual meeting in August in Pittsburgh.
Harris Honored with SCA Award
Texas Transportation Institute Associate Research Scientist Pat Harris of the Materials and Pavements Division has been honored for his work on the George Bush Turnpike/Hwy 183 intersection near Irving. The Slag Cement Association presented Harris with the Best Use of Slag Cement for Innovation award at the association’s annual meeting in Atlanta March 21.
Harris’s research on the project involves the use of slag cement as a way of stabilizing sulfate-rich subgrade soil, which prevents problems with the asphalt or concrete pavement. “So far, the slag cement is holding up well. We will soon analyze samples from the site for reevaluation,” Harris said.