A word from our staff:
As Montana State University prepares for the start of the Fall semester, August is also bringing change to WTI as we welcome a new director. As many of you may know, David Kack and his family have started a new life chapter in Tennessee, and while David will continue remotely as WTI’s Program Manager for the Mobility & Public Transportation group and as the Director of the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM), he is handing over the role of WTI Director here in Bozeman. David joined WTI as a researcher in 2002 and his many years of experience and institutional knowledge earned him the position of Director when long time WTI leader, Steve Albert, retired in 2019. David’s tenure was anything but business as usual. Within his first year he was immersed in emergency response management as the coronavirus shutdown began. During this time, David continued research and director responsibilities, but also sanitized our offices and common areas on a regular basis, motivated us through clever communications as we adjusted to working remotely, and welcomed us all back when the coast was clear – well, sort of clear. Most memorably, he managed and hosted the twice rescheduled (due to the pandemic) Council of University of Transportation Centers (CUTC) Summer Meeting in Big Sky during a new COVID surge in 2022 that coincided with an epic 100-year flood on the Yellowstone River, stranding Summer Meeting participants in airports and flooded areas. His signature calm, humor, and level headedness prevailed and executed a successful and very memorable Summer Meeting. While his accomplishments and contributions to WTI and the Gallatin Valley are too numerous to cover here, we extend huge thanks and appreciation to David for his dedication as Executive Director over the last four years.
David Kack is handing over the role of director as his family starts a new chapter out of state. He has led WTI since 2019 and has guided WTI through Covid-19, the transition to work-from-home, and bringing everyone safely back to the office. David will continue in his role as Program Manager for the Mobility & Public Transportation group, as well as the Director of the Small Urban, Rural and tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM). Thank you, David, for you dedication to WTI and leadership!
Dr. Kelvin Wang has been named the new WTI Director as of August 1st. Please join us in welcoming Director Wang to Bozeman and WTI. Find the MSU announcement here: https://www.montana.edu/news/23004/kelvin-wang-named-director-of-msu-s-western-transportation-institute
Below you will find a note from both of our directors:
From David: On Merging and Passing
I’ve noticed that merging into traffic is often accompanied by a feeling of anxiety. We get up to speed at an interstate onramp or to pass a vehicle, especially a big truck, and feel the need to pay a bit more attention to what we are doing. This is how the month of August will feel for me, and for the next Director of WTI, Dr. Kelvin C.P. Wang, who officially began his new role August 1.
I merged my professional life with WTI back in 2001 when I started as a half-time employee. I was fortunate to work on many different projects with an array of co-workers. At the time, I was only the third non-engineer that was working at WTI. I quickly became a full-time employee, then became the Program Manager for our Mobility & Public Transportation research area, and then the Director of the Small Urban and Rural Livability Center (a Tier 1 UTC) under MAP-21. In 2019, I was named the Interim Director of WTI when our long-time director, Steve Albert, retired. The “Interim” tag was removed in 2020 and it has been an honor and privilege to lead an amazing group of people at WTI these past four years.
Now, however, I am passing on the title and responsibilities of Director to Kelvin, who is moving to Bozeman from Stillwater, Oklahoma and has decades of experience as university faculty and four years as a DOT engineer. I will continue my role at WTI as Program Manager for Mobility & Public Transportation, as well as fulfilling my role as Director of the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM), our Tier 1 University Transportation Center (UTC) funded through the FAST Act.
Though the title on my business cards and emails is changing, my dedication to WTI and the transportation profession remains as strong as ever. Kelvin and I will pay a bit more attention during the month of August, as he merges his professional career with WTI, and I pass the Director role to him.
May all your personal and transportation-related mergers and passes go smoothly!
I am honored and grateful to be the new director of WTI. Since mid-June, I’ve been familiarizing myself with the operations of WTI and its relationships with various entities at MSU and the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT). I would like to thank Mr. David Kack for his expertise and unreserved support during our transition in roles.
Based on what I’ve learned, I can say that the future of WTI is bright, and we have enormous opportunities to grow in the coming years. I will provide a more detailed plan in September outlining our potential expansion. Thank you all for your hard work in the last decades to make WTI a national and international leader in transportation research! Together we will open a new chapter at WTI, where we will continue to provide high-impact research solutions to the state, the nation, and our international partners. I am excited for what is to come.