Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Reston, Va. — Robert E. Paaswell, Ph.D., P.E., Dists.M.ASCE, professor of civil engineering at the City University of New York and director and CEO of the University Transportation Research Center and Institute for Urban Systems was recently named a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The Society’s highest accolade, active distinguished membership is comprised of approximately only 200 of its 140,000 members worldwide. Paaswell will be presented the award, in honor of his tireless 45-year service to leadership in transportation education and research, expanding the boundaries of the field, inspiring colleagues and serving as a model civil engineer, on October 20-22, 2011, at ASCE’s Annual Civil Engineering Conference in Memphis, Tenn.
Robert Paaswell is an acknowledged leader in transportation engineering research and education. During his career, he has made numerous innovative and groundbreaking contributions through creation and direction of long-lasting research institutions, including the SUNY (Buffalo) Center for Transportation Studies and Research, the Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois, the regional Transportation Research Center at the City University of New York and the CUNY Institute for Urban Systems.
Paaswell is highly regarded for leading research in interdisciplinary topics that include growth limits; transit technology, governance and performance; travel behavior, congestion impacts and mitigation; and impacts of delayed investments, labor-management process and public-private relationships. His service to the public welfare in the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation included fostering sponsored research. There and in academia, he made significant contributions to the evolution of the University Research Program which now includes more than 40 universities. He received the U.S. Secretary of Transportation’s Medal for Distinguished Service in recognition of the quality of this work. He has also performed research work in Israel, Great Britain and China.
Paaswell has combined research with teaching and mentoring. He has served as a professor of civil engineering nearly continuously since 1962, including service as Chair of the Department of Environmental Design and Planning at the University of New York at Buffalo. From 2009 to 2010 he served as interim president of the City College of New York. He has developed courses in transportation policy and taught hundreds of civil engineering students. He is well-known for encouraging graduate students to work on projects directly with community groups, providing a critically valuable connection between academia and professional practice. He has guided dozens of junior colleagues during his long career and is noted for his deep respect, optimistic attitude and infectious good humor. As a result, he received the Award for Distinguished Contributions to University Education and Research by the Council of University Transportation Centers.
From 1986 to 1989, Paaswell was executive director of the Chicago Transit Authority under Mayor Harold Washington. As CEO, he managed North America’s second largest transit system of bus and rail networks with 13,000 employees, a $1 billion annual operating and capital budget and active city politics, at a time when federal aid was declining and new regulations were adding cost. This experience provided him with tremendous pragmatic insight during the last 20 years of his research and teaching.
Paaswell has been an active member of several professional organizations, including ASCE, the Transportation Research Board and the Transit Standards Consortium. He has been active on regional and community boards and served as organizer and chair for numerous construction and transportation conferences. He has consulted to a large number of clients on projects including employment access, air terminal geometry, light rail transit design, transit mall design and planning. He was selected by Rutgers University as an Outstanding Civil Engineering Alumnus.
Paaswell received his bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and graduate degrees in civil engineering and applied mechanics from Columbia University in New York City, in addition to receiving a doctorate’s degree in civil engineering from Rutgers University. He currently teaches as a distinguished professor at The City College of New York, and currently resides in New York.
Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) represents more than 140,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society.