U.S. State Department Signs Major Contract with TTI
In one of the largest contracts ever awarded to Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the Crashworthy Structures Program has received a U.S. Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security pact that will provide up to $7 million in work over a five-year period.
The contract calls for TTI to design, analyze and test perimeter security devices. The first project will begin immediately as various vehicles are crashed into an instrumented pier designed to measure the impact of the collisions. Because loads imparted to security devices are largely unknown, the tests will help researchers design future devices.
“This contract solidifies our eight-year relationship with the State Department,” says Assistant Agency Director Dean Alberson. “Everyone at the Riverside Campus looks forward to this project, which will be a great opportunity for us and expand the kind of work we’ve done with the agency.”
TTI began work with the State Department and its Bureau of Diplomatic Security in 2002. Since that time, TTI has conducted dozens of tests for the agency intended to increase security for the numerous embassies and other posts around the globe.
Former A&M System Regent Joins TTI Advisory Council
The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) has a new and distinguished member of the Institute’s Advisory Council, Erle Nye, chairman emeritus of TXU Corp. in Dallas. Nye joins more than 30 other members of the council, providing advice on transportation issues and trends and supporting TTI research programs and initiatives.A long-time supporter of TTI and Texas A&M University, Nye served two terms on The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents from 1997 to 2009 and was elected chairman in 2001.
In 2005, Nye was appointed to the Board of The University of Texas Investment Management Company and was elected chair in February 2009. He was appointed chairman of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council by former President George Bush and served on the Advisory Committee to the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection and on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Electric System Reliability Task Force.
Mexican University Signs MOU with TTI
Officials with Mexico’s Autonomous University of San Luis Potosi signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) in May. The MOU allows the two parties to collaborate on common research interests and exchange faculty and graduate students. The MOU might also expand TTI work with the Mexican government.
“In Mexico, there is a lack of professionals with transportation backgrounds,” says Mario Garcia Valdez, the chancellor of the university, who came to College Station, Texas, for a two-day tour of TTI. “Our intent is to fill the void that exists by starting a transportation program at San Luis Potosi.”
TDS Study Unveils ‘Perfect Storm’ for Teenagers
A Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) study, conducted by TTI‘s Teens in the Driver (TDS) Seat program, adds to the mounting evidence that cell- phone use while driving, especially at night, can be fatal. Details of the study, examining crash data over a 10-year period, have received national attention.
The study examined the effects of lighting conditions on crashes from 1999 to 2008 in all 50 states, along with the presence of alcohol as a factor in those crashes. The findings suggest something other than alcohol is increasing the nighttime fatal crashes for teen drivers. The most likely reason, researchers say, is the use of cell phones.
“Being on a cell phone behind the wheel impairs our driving ability on three different and essential levels: cognitive, visual and manual,” TDS Director Russell Henk said in announcing the results of the study. “When you add the nighttime danger…you create the perfect storm. And, that storm is much more severe for teenage drivers, largely because of their lack of driving experience.”
In addition to Henk, other speakers at the news conference included high school students involved with TDS and State Rep. Larry Phillips, the vice chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
“Given the challenge we face, we have to change more than laws,” Rep. Phillips said at the news conference. “We have to change the way we think about driving. That’s what these young leaders are doing — using peer influence to create a driving safety culture among young people. And if they can change the way that young people drive, then it’s my hope that the rest of us can do the same.”
Hawkins, TAMUite Receive Statewide Honors
The Texas A&M University Student Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (TAMUite) and Gene Hawkins — Department of Civil Engineering associate professor and Texas Transportation Institute research engineer — were the recipients of prestigious awards during the Institute of Transportation Engineers Texas District Summer Meeting in Sugar Land in June.
Hawkins was recognized with the Engineer of the Year Award. “This was a complete surprise,” Hawkins said. “When you look at the list of people who have been given this award, it’s a who’s who in transportation engineering in Texas, and I’m very honored to be included in that company.”
Meanwhile, for the 13th time since 1985, TAMUite was named the 2010 Texas District Outstanding Student Chapter. “We strive to make our organization one through which students can enrich their lives technically, professionally and socially,” Chapter President Kristopher Ball said of the award. As a result of the honor, TAMUite will now be in the running for the 2010 International Student Chapter Award, which it has won five times in its history.
Employees Recognized at Patent Award Ceremony
Texas Transportation Institute employees were honored by The Texas A&M University System Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) for three patent awards in 2009. Dean Alberson, Roger Bligh, Lance Bullard, Gene Buth and Hayes Ross attended the Patent and Innovation 2010 Awards Luncheon at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center at the George Bush Presidential Library in April.
The three patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year were:
- Cable Anchor Bracket — Buth, Bligh, Ross, Bullard and Alberson;
- Cable Guardrail Release System — Alberson, Buth, Bligh and Bullard; and
- Hybrid Energy Absorbing Reusable Terminal — Alberson and Bullard.
Borowiec Elected to Texas Airports Council
Jeff Borowiec, associate research scientist with the Texas Transportation Institute, became the first “non-aviation” board member of the Texas Airports Council when he was elected to the panel this spring.
He was nominated to the Texas Airports Council by incoming president John Happ, the director of aviation for Easterwood Airport. “One of Happ’s main goals is to strengthen aviation education in Texas,” explains Borowiec. “I have also been appointed to the newly formed education committee.”
The Texas Airports Council is the only statewide airport group dedicated to a wide range of aviation activities including airport promotion, legislative efforts and aviation education programs.
TTI’s Global Presence Expands
Two Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) employees helped extend the Institute’s international reach this summer. Research Scientist Juan Villa moved south of the border, and TTI Senior Research Engineer Nadeem Chaudhary took up residence in Qatar. “We want to have a permanent presence in the Persian Gulf,” Chaudhary said of his new job, which began June 14.
Meanwhile, Villa took up residence in Mexico City in July with an office at the Texas A&M University Center there. “In Mexico and Latin America, it’s important for TTI to have a presence,” Villa said. “By being there, we will be able to expand our research with new sponsors.”