Support of the modern transportation industry, the use of microcomputers in transportation research, growth in the number of student research associates, establishment of regular funding sources and continued efforts to maintain excellence summarized comments from past and current leaders of the Urban Transportation Center during its 35th Anniversary Celebration October 20, 2014.
More than 100 guests gathered at the Metropolitan Club in Willis Tower for a gala evening of dinner, networking and learning from four past directors and current Executive Director Steve Schlickman during a panel discussion. Guests also were updated on the Joseph DiJohn Memorial Fund, initiated in honor of the former long-time UTC lecturer who passed away in 2011.
A highlight of the evening was a panel discussion that featured commentary on pivotal events and industry developments that took places since the UTC was launched at UIC in 1979. During the discussion, led by CUPPA Dean Michael Pagano. View the panel discussion. Here were some highlights:
- Dr. Ashish Sen, who wrote the proposal to establish the UTC, said from the onset a goal behind the Center was to support the transportation industry through research. The decision to hire graduate students to assist with research enhanced the Center’s capabilities.
- Dr. Robert Paaswell said work conducted by the Center helps improve the quality of life in cities through better transportation. He said faculty from various departments and colleges brought unique skills and experience to solve problems.
- Dr. David Boyce provided these impressive statistics. During the eight years he served as director, the UTC nurtured 17 students on to earn Ph.D. degrees, had four faculty advance to research associate professor status, and had five books, 12 chapters and 37 journal articles published.
- Dr. Siim Sööt recounted how Mr. DiJohn used his personal insight and network to initiate the Metropolitan Transportation Support Initiative (METSI) grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation. He also noted that the study of transportation has an impact on the entire UIC campus.
- Executive Director Stephen E. Schlickman, JD, noted that the Center is at a high point, with more than 30 research studies underway. He said the UTC will continue to aggressively seek new grant funding and produce research that will help address current transportation challenges.
Speakers also recognized these former directors: The late Dr. Richard Michaels, the first UTC director; Dr. Sue McNeil, currently professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Delaware; and, Dr. Piyushimita (Vonu) Thakuriah, now professor of Urban Studies and affiliated professor of the School of Engineering at the University of Glasgow.