Change was the dominant theme for the 86th Annual Short Course, which took place at Texas A&M University, October 16-17. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) event, which is hosted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) each year, provides a unique opportunity for the two agencies to collaborate on a common goal: improving the transportation system in Texas.
About 2,000 people attended Short Course, which began with an opening session Tuesday morning. TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson presided over the event. He talked about the numerous changes which have occurred over the last year, including his new leadership approach, a restructuring of the organization, a modernization and streamlining effort and a renewed emphasis on making the Texas transportation system safer for Texans.
“There’s been a lot of change and a lot of new talent to compliment what we’ve been doing,” Wilson told members attending the Short Course luncheon. “I think it makes us a smarter, better and, stronger agency going forward.” He said the new team comes with new blood, a new vision, new ideas, better business practices and new way to do things.
TTI Agency Director Dennis Christiansen, who spoke at the opening session, was quick to point out that TxDOT has a history of continuous improvement via change.
“In 1927 [when the first Short Course was held], Texas had all of 1.4 million registered vehicles, compared to over 22 million today. The population of our state was 5.2 million,” Christiansen said, noting that the population is 5 times that today. “Needless to say, we’ve been through a lot of change and innovation to make this all work. You have always been a leader in how you provide the best transportation system in the world,” he told the TxDOT personnel in attendance.
In addition to the various sessions that focus on different aspects of transportation, Short Course serves as a way for the agency to honor its employees. The popular Extra Mile Awards recognize employees who helped save the lives of motorists who were involved in accidents over the last year.