ICT was proud to welcome the Executive Director of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academics to the UIUC campus and ATREL on April 5, 2011. After touring the campus and ATREL, Mr. Skinner was the guest speaker of the distinguished Kent Lecture series where he discussed “Transportation and Sustainability: Strategies to Reduce Green-House Gas Emissions and Improve Energy Security” to a room full of transportation students, faculty, and other interested attendees.
By virtue of its dependence on petroleum-based fuels, transportation is a major contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the energy security challenges faced by the United States. Addressing either climate change or energy security will require changes and adjustments to the U.S. transportation system. Skinner discussed the strategic options available which include: alter travel behavior, improve the energy efficiency of travel, reduce the GHG content of transportation fuels, or some combination of all three. Although there are no easy answers, Skinner drew upon a growing body of work by the National Academies and others to dimension the challenge of addressing the interrelated sustainability issues of GHG emissions and petroleum use, review the available options for reducing GHG emissions and petroleum use, and comment on their likely impact and feasibility.
Robert Skinner has been the Executive Director of the TRB since 1994. Before joining TRB in 1983, Mr. Skinner was a Vice President of Alan M. Voorhees and Associates, a transportation consulting firm. Currently, he is a member of the Board of Trustees for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Virginia and the Advisory Board for the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida, among other appointments. Mr. Skinner has a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Virginia and received a M.S. in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A registered professional engineer, Mr. Skinner has received the Director’s Research Champion Award from the Texas Transportation Institute, the James Laurie Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the P.D. McLean Memorial Award from the Road Gang in 2001.
The Paul F. Kent Distinguished Lecture, initiated in 2007, honors outstanding leadership in the field of transportation engineering. Paul Kent was a 1920 graduate of the University of Illinois in Civil Engineering. As a highway contractor and a materials supplier, he owned and operated two Champaign-based companies, General Paving and Builders Supply. Throughout his professional career he expressed his highest regard and great esteem for the education in civil engineering he received at the University of Illinois.
Mr. Kent dedicated himself to civic service in Illinois and surrounding states. He was the founder and president of the University of Illinois Civil Engineering Alumni Association, and was the recipient of the U of I Loyalty Award and the Civil Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award. Mr. Kent held memberships in the Chi Epsilon National Civil Engineering Honorary Fraternity and the University of Illinois Presidents Club, Foundation and Athletic Council. The Kent Distinguished Lectures are sponsored by the Paul F. Kent Memorial Fund, established in 1977 to support education in Transportation Engineering.