Spiegelman Named Distinguished Professor
Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) Senior Research Scientist Clifford Spiegelman has been appointed Distinguished Professor of Statistics at Texas A&M University’s College of Science. The title of Distinguished Professor is reserved for faculty who are recognized by their peers as being among the top 5 percent in their fields worldwide. Currently, there are about 70 Distinguished Professors among the 2,900 faculty members of Texas A&M University.
“This appointment is a career highlight, to say the least,” Spiegelman said. “It’s a huge honor for me to work alongside my colleagues at TTI and the university to try and solve problems through statistics.”
Spiegelman, who joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1987, made international news in 2007 when his work on bullet fragments from the JFK assassination case determined that the FBI analysis was flawed.
Spiegelman is a founder of chemometrics and a leader in statistical forensics. His appointment as Distinguished Professor became effective September 1.
Engineering Advisory Council Spouses Tour
The spouses of the Texas A&M Engineering Advisory Council (EAC) members toured the Texas Transportation institute (TTI) in October as part of their fall meeting. The spouses learned about the Institute with the help of various presentations including a TTI overview, the Universal Freight Shuttle and the Teens in the Driver Seat program. The mayor of College Station, Texas — Ben White — welcomed the spouses.
“TTI was a great host for our group,” says Jill Bennett, the wife of G. Kemble Bennett, the vice chancellor and dean of engineering. “We really appreciate all the time and effort that went into the tour and making us feel at home.” The EAC spouses take “field trips” to various engineering-related facilities and organizations each year.
The EAC is made up of dozens of industry leaders who help guide the Dwight Look College of Engineering with strategic planning, external relations and resource development.
Connecting with Future Transportation Professionals
TTI researchers from various programs were able to “connect” with middle school students who attended a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Youth to Career Fair event at the Brazos County Exposition Complex Nov. 4.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than to witness students’ eyes light up when they hear and see what we do and they realize they want to be a part of it,” says Debbie Jasek, a research specialist in the Center for Professional Development. “It doesn’t happen with all the kids, but when it does — it makes our efforts seem worthwhile.”
More than 3,000 eighth graders from the Brazos Valley region attended the event.
Overman Helps India Tackle Transportation Problems
Texas Transportation Institute Associate Research Scientist John Overman was part of a team of transportation experts that went to Mumbai, India, in September to help the State of Maharashtra develop its own Transportation Training Institute — which is designed to improve the country’s transportation problems.
“As you may have seen in some online videos, transportation is a major issue in India,” Overman said. “I was asked to teach a course in transportation planning as the newly formed institute begins to design a course curriculum.” Other members of the United States delegation taught other transit-related short courses including security, environmental sustainability and integrated fare collection.
Overman was part of a delegation arranged by the Federal Transit Administration and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.
“We were well received by the people of India,” Overman said. “It is clear that they are eager to improve all aspects of their transportation system. I was very pleased to be asked to be a part of that effort.”
Fulbright Scholar Makes TTI Temporary Home
A Fulbright Fellow selected the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) for her environmental research work, arriving in College Station on Sept. 1. Anuradha Shukla worked for the Center for Air Quality Studies under the direction of Director Joe Zietsman. She has been employed at India’s Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) for 22 years, where she is a division head responsible for transportation planning and environment. Her specific expertise is in air quality.
In addition to her research at TTI, Shukla also conducted several lectures out of state, including at Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. She also attended an emissions testing conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“The only other place in the United States I had been before coming to TTI was California,” Shukla said. “My experience at TTI was an excellent learning experience, and I was able to travel to other parts of Texas and the country.”
Shukla plans to form several collaborative projects with the Center and hopes that the work leads to a CRRI/TTI memorandum of understanding, which could open the door for future projects.
Zietsman met Shukla during a visit to India in 2008 where he gave a presentation on emissions testing at a conference in Nagpur, India.
“The Fulbright Fellowship is a very competitive and prestigious award,” says Zietsman. “We are extremely honored that she selected TTI and the Center for Air Quality Studies as a home for four months. It was an excellent opportunity for us to learn more about the work her institute does, and it really opens the door for collaborative opportunities.”
Railroad Crossing Safety Professionals Gather for Conference
About 200 participants from across the country took part in the 2009 National Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Training Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, in November. The Texas Transportation Institute sponsored conference is held every two years and is designed to share the latest and best practices in highway-rail grade crossing safety and trespass prevention.
A highlight of the conference was the Hoy Richards Career Achievement Award, which was presented to Bill Browder, the director of operations with the Association of American Railroads.
The founder of the Railroad Chaplains of America, Gil Stricklin, was a speaker at the conference. Stricklin described how his organization sends out a team of caregivers when a railroad death or serious injury occurs.
Nearly 1,000 people are killed at railroad crossings each year.
Retiring Bochner Urges Colleagues to Ask “So What?”
Known for his mild manner, patience and insightful curiosity, Senior Research Engineer Brian Bochner had words of advice for his Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) colleagues during his retirement party Sept. 18. “Don’t stop learning” and “look ahead, not back.”
After 43 years of professional employment concentrating on transportation planning and air quality, Bochner worked for the Institute for 10 years. “TTI is the classiest of the three employers I’ve had.”
And judging from the comments of his colleagues, it was Bochner who added class to TTI.
“Brian was my mentor,” said Joe Zietsman, who took over Bochner’s role of director of the Center for Air Quality Studies. “Brian is like a walking encyclopedia. Ego is not something Brian struggles with.”
“To our good fortune, Brian chose to join our staff 10 years ago,” TTI Agency Director Dennis Christiansen told the crowded conference room of well wishers. “He’s done a great job for us — but in the TTI tradition — this is really just a fake retirement.”
Bochner officially retired August 31 but will continue working part time as he finishes various projects.
In a last bit of advice, Bochner urged his co-workers to find meaning in what they do. “Don’t be afraid to try new things and always ask ‘so what?'”