David Kack Named “Business Person of the Year” by Big Sky Chamber of Commerce

Glass award plaque in glass with the following wording. "Big Sky chamber of Commerce. 2018 Business Person of the Year. David Kack, Western Transportation Institute."Congratulations to WTI’s own David Kack, who was honored with a Big Sky Chamber of Commerce Award at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner last week. David was selected for the “Business Person of the Year” Award, in recognition of his 15 years of work to establish and grow the Skyline bus service, as well as his more recent leadership efforts in partnership with the Chamber and other stakeholders to successfully secure a $10 million federal TIGER grant for improvements to the transportation network in the Big Sky region. The Awards dinner was also featured in today’s issue of Explore Big Sky.

Congratulations, Graduates!

WTI was well-represented at the Montana State University graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 5.  Congratulations to Amir Jafari, Ph.D., and Amir Jamali, Ph.D., who were awarded their doctorates in Engineering. Both students conducted transportation research at WTI during their graduate studies, under the mentorship of Dr. Ahmed Al-Kaisy and Dr. Yiyi Wang. Best of luck from everyone at WTI!

Amir Jamali, Yiyi Wang, Ahmed Al-Kaisy, and Amir Jafari

Research Pays Off… Again! TR News Publishes Second Article on the Benefits of WTI Research

For the second time in less than six months, TR News magazine has selected a WTI project for its “Research Pays Off” section, which highlights research that has produced tangible and valuable benefits.  “Wyoming Intercity Bus Service Study: Finding and Filling the Gaps in Rural Areas” is featured in the March/April 2018 issue of TR News, published by the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board.  Authored by Principal Investigator David Kack, the article describes a project conducted for the Wyoming Department of Transportation to identify potential Intercity bus routes that would increase access for underserved communities.  The study led directly to the expansion of available services after a transportation provider contacted the Wyoming DOT to initiate a partnership that resulted in new service on one of the identified routes. The full article is posted on the project page.

The November/December 2017 issue of TR News highlighted the One-Stop Shop Traveler Information project in the “Research Pays Off” feature.  This article is also available on the WTI website.

(TR News is copyright, National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; posted with permission of the Transportation Research Board.)

Milestones in Service – MSU Recognizes Seven WTI Staff Members

On Monday, October 23, Montana State University honored professional and classified staff reaching significant milestones in their tenure of service to the university.  Honorees were recognized at a campus reception, at which Provost Robert Mokwa presented individual certificates and MSU gifts.

Seven WTI employees have achieved the 5, 10, 15 or 20-year milestone in 2017:

Steve Albert, 20 years

David Kack, 15 years

Neil Hetherington, 15 years

Carla Little, 15 years

Rebecca Gleason, 10 years

Genevieve Houska (LTAP), 10 years

Annmarie McMahill (CHSC), 5 years

Congratulations, everyone!  All combined, that’s 90 years of service to WTI and MSU by these seven employees alone!

 2017 Milestones_group shot - Copy_edited

Rebecca Gleason, Carla Little, Steve Albert, and David Kack at the Milestones in Service Ceremony.

 

USDOT Secretary Chao Names Shankwitz to Motorcyclist Advisory Council

Portrait of WTI Researcher Craig ShankwitzWTI’s Craig Shankwitz has been appointed to serve as a Special Government Employee on the Motorcyclist Advisory Council (MAC) to the Federal Highway Administration.  His service will enhance the U. S. Department of Transportation’s efforts to address infrastructure issues of concern to motorcyclists.  Throughout this two-year appointment, Shankwitz will share expertise on the research and application of intelligent transportation systems, especially related to motorcycle improvement safety.  In February of 2017, Shankwitz was selected by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center to serve on the Motorcycle Safety Research Consortium.  Shankwitz oversee WTI’s Automated and Connected Vehicle efforts.

 

MSU Students take Presentation Awards at I-HEEP Conference

The Highway Engineering Exchange Program (HEEP) is an international organization that promotes advances in transportation engineering through the exchange of knowledge and information technology. The 2016 International HEEP Conference was held September 11-15 in Helena, Montana.

HEEP offers a student competition with cash prizes as part of its Educator Student Participation Program (ESP). Maia Grudzien, an MSU undergraduate in Civil Engineering mentored by Computer Science faculty member Brittany Fasy, took home the top student prize of $1,000 for her presentation on “Safer Roads Tomorrow through Analyzing Today’s Accidents.” Sam Micka, a PhD student in Computer Science mentored by faculty advisor Brendan Mumey, received the second place award of $750 for his presentation on “Efficient Monitor Placement for Multipath Traffic Flows.”

Student presenters provide a 20 minute presentation before the general meeting audience and a judging panel during the IHEEP annual conference. Presenters are evaluated based on their understanding of the subject, the strength of their oral presentations, effective use of presentation aids, professional appearance and demeanor, and their interactions with the audience. Congratulations to our two MSU award winners and their faculty mentors!

AASHTO selects Asphalt Pavement Project for National Recognition

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has selected a WTI project as one of its national “Sweet Sixteen” High Value Research Projects. WTI researchers Ning Xie, Natalie Villwock-Witte, and Laura Fay led a project for the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) entitled “Optimization of Elastic Polymer Modification Rates Based on Contemporary Relative Costs vs. Benefits,” which looked at the costs and benefits of the use of polymer modified binders for asphalt pavements. After analyzing various scenarios for NMDOT, the research team recommended revised formulations and binder specifications that have the potential to extend the life of plus grade asphalt pavements by more than 20%. AASHTO has invited representatives of each of the 16 High Value Research Projects to present their findings at the AASHTO Annual Meeting. For more information, the final project report is available here (PDF).

2016 Celebrating Excellence in Service and Employee of the Year award

Congratulations to Rebecca Gleason and Taylor Lonsdale, who along with teammates Kristin Blackler, E. J. Hook, and Candace Mastel, were awarded a 2016 Celebrating Excellence in Service and Employee of the Year award. The group received the team award in recognition of their Bicycle Master Plan. MSU’s Service Excellence program focuses on aligning the quality of their services and environment with the excellence of their academic programs and is the foundation for the Employee Recognition Awards program, now in its 27th year. Two individuals are recognized for excellence in each one of the four MSU Service Excellence standards: competence, courtesy, reliability and safety. The team award was presented to the team that best exemplified the Service Excellence culture in its daily work and programs.

David Kack Recognized For Work With Human Resource Development Council (HRDC)

Prospera Business Network has awarded WTI’s David Kack with the Business Excellence Award for economic leadership. David was recognized for his work as board chair of the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC). In his always humble manner, David emphasized the team effort and the many HRDC members that share this award. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Prospera was founded in 1985 and assists local entrepreneurs with business counseling and generates various economic reports for the Gallatin Valley.