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.

Jessica Mueller successfully defends thesis, “Safety Evaluation of a Medic’s Work Environment during Rural Emergency Response.”

Jessica Mueller successfully defended her thesis “Safety Evaluation of a Medic’s Work Environment during Rural Emergency Response,” completing all requirements for her Masters degree in Industrial Engineering. The naturalistic data collected in her study allowed researchers to perform analysis in a rural emergency driving environment to identify contributing factors to attending medic behavior, severity of biomechanical forces experienced in the driver and patient compartment, and an evaluation of emergency medical response safety culture. Based upon research findings, the project includes development of a series of environmental, ergonomic, policy, or training recommendations to mitigate circumstances that cause potentially unsafe operations in the driver’s and patient’s compartment of the ambulance. This study used naturalistic data and video, survey responses, focus groups, and agency patient care records to analyze the rural medics’ working environment during emergency patient transportation. Accelerometer data was analyzed for 102 separate emergency transports to provide descriptive statistics relevant to whole-body vibration experienced by the medics during patient care. Five years of patient care records were analyzed to identify specific patient illnesses and medical procedures associated with traveling in emergency response mode. Restraint compliance rates were collected for both self-reported (21.5% restrained) and observed (2.6% restrained) data collection methods. Focus groups identified factors influencing medics’ choice to be unrestrained, characterized by a reduced ability to provide patient care, the belief that restraint devices will cause harm to the medics, and the belief that the restraint devices are ineffective in a crash situation. Finally, reach analysis was conducted to highlight the procedures and equipment retrieval which require the medics to assume positions resulting in awkward and unstable postures during transport. The results of this study will add to the growing body of knowledge surrounding the behaviors of EMS workers in a real work setting, and will aid in understanding the complexities of EMS safety culture. Jessica was a recipient of the WTI Graduate Transportation Award and was selected as the 2009 UTC Student of the Year.

Marcel Huijser, Going the Extra Mile

Thanks to Marcel Huijser for going the extra mile – as he also does – preparing for a US Highway 93 excursion.  The following letter was submitted to WTI by Rebecca Lloyd, U.S. Director of Conservation, Science and Action for the YELLOWSTONE TO YUKON CONSERVATION INITIATIVE:
“I just wanted to send you a quick note to tell you what an excellent employee and representative of WTI you have in Dr. Marcel Huijser.  I asked for Marcel’s help in leading a learning field trip for the Board of Directors and Staff of Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative about the highway mitigation structures on US Highway 93 north of Missoula, through the Mission Valley.  Last Friday, Marcel did a superior job guiding us, teaching us, and keeping us safe along this route.  On his own initiative, he invited key partners to assist him from the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes, Montana Department of Transportation, and People’s Way Partnership and together they made the field trip one of the best and most informative trips that the Y2Y Board has ever had.  It was clear how much respect all the partners have for Marcel and soon into the trip it was clear why to all the Board and staff of Y2Y.  The Y2Y Board is composed of leaders across the US and Canada. We were already supporters of Western Transportation Institute and now we all have a greater appreciation for the level of research and successful collaboration WTI brings to complex projects thanks to Marcel.”

Rebecca Lloyd

U.S. Director of Conservation, Science and Action