Annual THE Conference Provides Forum for Transportation Officials

The 102nd annual Illinois Transportation and Highway Engineering (THE) Conference took place February 23–24, 2016, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The theme for this year’s conference was Engineering in Illinois’ 102 Counties, and Bill Buttlar of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Illinois once again presided as director.

The conference provides an annual forum for transportation professionals from the public and private sectors to present key accomplishments, share new knowledge and best practices, discuss new trends and specifications, and network with colleagues.

This year’s conference drew 1,176 people from industry, government, and academia to the Illini Union on campus. General session presentations were the following:

  • Kirk Brown, former IDOT Secretary, on the need to better fund Illinois roadways
  • Michigan DOT engineer Cliff Farr on transitioning to an electronic document system
  • Parsons Brinckerhoff engineer Scott Shogan on the future of intelligent vehicle technology and how it would affect transportation systems
  • Francesco Bedini Jacobini, Rail Manager with IDOT, on a future Chicago–St. Louis high-speed rail system

After the general talks, smaller breakout sessions were held on topics ranging from bridges and structures to local roads and streets.

On the second day of the conference, ICT Director Imad Al-Qadi presented an update on the Center’s research; Matt Mueller, who recently retired from his position as Engineer of Tests for IDOT’s Bureau of Materials and Physical Research, spoke about a recent ICT/IDOT project on a newly developed pavement performance test; and Bryan Wagner of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and Brian Smith of AECOM talked about implementing INVEST at the Illinois Tollway.

At the annual awards presentation, ICT gave the Technical Review Panel (TRP) Chair of the Year Award to Amy Schutzbach, Engineer of Physical Research at IDOT’s Bureau of Materials and Physical Research. Schutzbach was selected for the award by her peers in recognition of her work as the TRP chair on six ICT/IDOT research projects (including the High-Impact Research projects), membership on roughly 20 Technical Review Panels, and her input and assistance on dozens more. Schutzbach’s dedication to research and her support of TRP chairs and members has been instrumental in the success of the program.

Marshall Thompson accepts the High-Impact Research Award.

Marshall Thompson accepts the High-Impact Research Award.

The High-Impact Research Award was given to the project Mechanistic–Empirical Design, Implementation, and Monitoring for Flexible Pavements (R27-060) with principal investigator, Marshall Thompson, and TRP Chair Charles Wienrank. This project represents the culmination of 14 years of work by Thompson and his team, in cooperation with IDOT, in updating mechanistic–empirical design procedures. Thompson accepted the award on behalf of the project’s team.

The final phase of the conference featured talks by David Kim of FHWA, Rich Brauer of IDOT, Greg Bedalov of Illinois Tollway, Craig Fink of Tazewell County, and Josh Peschel from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. To see the complete program and view the slides from the presentations, visit the  Conference website.