We are saddened to hear that Neilon Rowan passed away on Jan. 8, 2021. His big smile and friendly demeanor immediately put everyone at ease around him. Known to his students as Dr. Rowan, he was a beloved mentor to many researchers early in their extensive careers. He was a retired Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) research engineer and a professor emeritus with Texas A&M University’s Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Dr. Rowan led TTI’s Traffic Operations Program in the 1970s and 1980s and was recognized as a national expert in this area. He published more than 25 papers and reports on highway design and traffic operations, highway grade-crossing design and operations, roadway lighting design, and highway safety. He was especially pivotal in the development of breakaway sign supports, a technology that is now used internationally. At TTI, he served in several senior-level TTI management positions, impacting lives across the Institute.
Dr. Rowan was also the first TTI research engineer to become the international president of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). Other TTI employees who served as ITE international president are Dennis Christiansen, Brian Bochner and Robert Wunderlich. In 1992, ITE made Dr. Rowan an honorary member, the highest recognition of individual achievement by ITE. His achievements in the transportation field inspired many young transportation professionals, and it is in the way they, in turn, mentor others and instill that same passion that he is remembered best.
Understand Dr. Rowan’s impact on students, colleagues and friends in this Jan. 25 ITE article, authored by Beverly Kuhn, TTI senior research engineer.