TTI Cited for Employee Support
Research Technician Lee Gustavus and Agency Director Dennis Christiansen were recognized by the National Committee for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) during a ceremony June 26.
Research Associate Chip Sosa, who is a member of the Texas Army National Guard, nominated Gustavus and TTI for the awards. “TTI and my supervisor, Lee Gustavus, have been extremely helpful and flexible every time I’ve had to fulfill my Guard duties,” Sosa said. “I feel that Lee and TTI deserve some recognition.” Sosa is scheduled to be deployed overseas, possibly to Iraq, in October.
Former TTI employee George Dresser, who is an ESGR chairperson, presented TTI with the Above and Beyond Award and Gustavus with its Patriotic Employer Award. Dresser told those gathered at the presentation that since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 723,000 members of the Guard and Reserve have been called into active duty. And many of those have been called up as many as three times.
“It’s an easy call for us to support the men and women of the Guard and Reserve,” Christiansen said in accepting the award on behalf of TTI. “Their sacrifices ensure our freedom here at home.”
Visit the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve website at http://esgr.org/site/Home/tabid/55/Default.aspx.
New members named to TTI Council
Three transportation professionals with an impressive range of experience have recently joined the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) Advisory Council. They are among 36 members of the Council, providing vital advice and guidance on transportation issues and trends while supporting TTI research programs and initiatives.
The three newest members of the TTI Advisory Council are:
Mike Heiligenstein — Currently the executive director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, Heiligenstein served 23 years as a Central Texas public official, including elected positions as a Round Rock city councilmember and Williams County commissioner. In 2000, Heiligenstein spearheaded a $350 million transportation initiative that changed the dynamics of mobility throughout Central Texas. He previously served as chairman of the regional air quality initiative of Central Texas, called the Clean Air Force, and as a member of the air and water quality subcommittee of the National Association of Counties.
Chase Untermeyer — Currently the vice chairman for StratREAL® Asset Management (USA), which is an independent and highly specialized global real estate investment advisor and asset manager, Untermeyer was the U.S. ambassador to the State of Qatar from 2004 to 2007. He served as an executive assistant for the vice president and assistant secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan and director of presidential personnel and director of the Voice of America under President George H.W. Bush. Untermeyer served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1976 to 1980 and is a former member of the Houston Port Commission.
Robert Heitmann — Currently the vice president and general manager of Zachry American Infrastructure, Inc., “the first U.S.-owned company with the capabilities to develop and invest in private-sector solutions to public infrastructure needs,” Heitmann was the vice president and general manager of Koch Performance Roads from 1996 to 2002. He has more than 25 years of experience in the development, financing, design-build and warranty of highway projects. Heitmann served as vice chairman at large for the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.
“Texas is recognized as having one of the finest multimodal transportation systems in the world, which is due in part to the work of our council members,” says Agency Director Dennis Christiansen. “With the prominence of our newest members, I’m confident that Texas transportation will surely benefit.”
The annual TTI Advisory Council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 29-30.
TDS team earns Videographer Awards
The Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS) program is adding to its list of honors with a pair of Videographer Awards for television spots now airing across Texas.
The first public service announcement, “I’m a Teenager,” features a series of teens speaking directly to the camera, relating firsthand the dangers faced by young drivers and the urgency of the issue in general. The spot was produced in both English and Spanish. The second message, “Buckle Up, Dude,” is the program’s first music video spot, addressing the lower-than-average rate of seat belt use by teens — particularly when teens are backseat passengers. Together, the two spots have aired more than 2,000 times on TV stations statewide through an agreement with the Texas Association of Broadcasters.
Considered one of the most coveted awards in the video industry, the honor recognizes efforts from network news operations, cable television, advertising agencies and a wide range of other organizations. Both of the TDS entries were recognized for their excellence.
David Martin and Clyde Hance were responsible for the shooting, editing and production of the projects, with production assistance from Morgan McKay, Krizia Martinez, Llubia Corella, Shawna Russell, Sam Holland, Jen Ross, Richard Cole, Russell Henk and Bernie Fette.
TTI innovators honored by Texas A&M System
Six employees from the Texas Transportation Institute’s (TTI‘s) Roadside Safety and Physical Security Division have received an Innovation Award from The Texas A&M University System Office of Technology Commercialization. Gene Buth, Dean Alberson, Roger Bligh, Lance Bullard, Akram Abu-Odeh and Hayes Ross received the award during a luncheon ceremony April 9.
In addition to the Innovation Award, all six TTI recipients received a Patent Award for receiving patents in 2008. One patent was for a guardrail end terminal, and the other was for their design of a crash cushion. One of the roadside safety products is nearing production, and the other is in the development stage.
In addressing the audience, A&M System Chancellor Mike McKinney said the System is committed to achieving excellence in research and developing ideas to benefit public health. “That is why this annual event is very important to me. When an individual, or a team of individuals, does innovative work that brings great credit to our universities and our university system, it deserves recognition.”
Masad receives 2009 Halliburton Professorship
Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) Researcher and Associate Professor of Engineering Eyad Masad is the recipient of the Halliburton Professorship Award, which specifically honors those that excel in both research and teaching.
Masad, who is a faculty member of Texas A&M University at Qatar, received a plaque and a $2,500 award. “This is a prestigious award from the Dwight Look College of Engineering, and I am honored by this recognition,” Masad said.
A reception and dinner in Masad’s honor was held April 23 at the Miramont Country Club in Bryan, Texas.
TTI contributes to Texas Almanac
Since 2000, the text for the aviation section of the Texas Almanac has been the work of Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) Associate Research Scientist Jeff Borowiec. He has recently submitted information to the publishers for the 2010-2011 edition.
“It is a big honor to supply information to the Texas Almanac and its section on Texas aviation,” Borowiec says. “The publishers realize that aviation is extremely important to the economy and history of the state, thanks to its 61,943 jobs and total economic output of almost $9 billion.”
The Texas Almanac was first published in 1857, 21 years after Texas won its independence from Mexico and only 12 years after it became a state. It is currently published biannually.
TTI researcher launches Career Academy to aid construction business
In what could become the standard for training women and minorities for the state’s road construction business, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) is heading up a new two-week program called the Texas Construction Career Academy funded by the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Civil Rights.
The innovative program will teach the basics of highway construction to create a pool of entry-level women and minority employees for eager contractors.
“For years now, despite the federal requirements, most construction companies have been unable to attract or retain qualified minority and female employees,” says Associate Research Specialist Debbie Jasek, a member of TTI‘s Center for Professional Development. “In many cases, women often quit their construction jobs soon after they’re hired. In part, the Texas Construction Career Academy will act as a screener to find the people who are suited for this type of work.”
TTI Helps Family Build a House, Find a Home
When the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) adopted Habitat for Humanity last year for its annual charitable campaign, TTI employees knew they would be helping a family in need. That certainly happened, but no one knew the profound impact their involvement would have on…themselves.
On June 20, TTI Executive Associate Director Bill Stockton handed over the house keys to a “too moved to speak” Jennifer Whittine, who relocated to Bryan with her family when her Louisiana home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
About 40 employees had worked on the Whittine home while it was under construction. The Institute also raised $8,800 for the Bryan/College Station Habitat for Humanity effort. (Similarly, employees in each of TTI‘s urban offices helped their local Habitat for Humanity programs.) Employees also donated pantry items, which were placed inside the Whittine home prior to the ceremony, completely filling the pantry and much of the cabinet space.
The Habitat for Humanity’s home dedication was designed to thank the numerous businesses and volunteers who had a role in building the new home. It was move-in day, and the Whittines would finally have a home of their own; largely built with the compassion of a community.
As Jennifer Whittine headed to the microphone, only a few phrases could be understood through the sobs and the tears: “truly overjoyed” and “blessing to be a homeowner.” One of her daughters was able to take over, saying, “Thank you for all you have done for us. It is truly a blessing.”
The outpouring of appreciation had many in the crowd wiping away tears, too.
“Based on what we’ve seen today, I really think Habitat for Humanity will be a part of TTI from now on in some way or another,” Stockton said. “It’s been a blessing for us to be involved in this.”
“In her remarks, Jennifer Whittine talked about blessings and how Habitat has changed her life,” said Melissa Tooley, co-chair of the TTI committee overseeing the project. “To be honest, those of us who participated in the dedication ceremony were blessed every bit as much just to be a part of it. I am so proud and grateful to be a part of an organization that makes such a difference within our community.”
Carlson, Hawkins singled out for safety
Two Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) researchers have received national recognition for their work on the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA‘s) Retroreflectivity Team. Head of the Operations and Design Division Paul Carlson and Associate Professor/Research Engineer Gene Hawkins were recipients of Outstanding Service Awards “in recognition of outstanding dedication and commitment toward improving the safety and visibility of America’s highways.”
Carlson and Hawkins have worked with the FHWA Retroreflectivity Team since 1999. The researchers were instrumental in obtaining a new standard for traffic sign retroreflectivity, which is now included in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The team received a Secretary’s Transportation Safety Award for its work on the new standard during ceremonies in Washington, D.C.