In visiting with a variety of transportation systems graduate students from several different universities I find that a growing number are interested in public service. From my experience this marks a change in the trend of a couple of decades biased toward employment in the private sector. Regardless of the motivation I find this to be a movement toward balance which I believe is a positive trend. There are challenges during this period of constrained resources or shifting markets; therefore, there are opportunities that emerge.
Professional technical societies are especially important in times like these. Opportunities to stay with the crest of the wave on technical and social affairs (e.g., networking) are important. While perhaps costly in terms of time and money, they are worth it if one truly engages and not be a passive participant. I encourage everyone regardless of the stage of their career to take advantage of the T&DI activities. We have several Specialty Conferences through the end of calendar 2013 that offer unique experiences in the areas of technical expansion and networking. Please check them out in this newsletter and continue to check each and every month.
Not much progress in the past month in the Federal legislation for transportation. It was announced that the DOT Secretary designee is Anthony Foxx, mayor of Charlotte, NC. This month I have met with Anne Ferro, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator, and Victor Mendez, Federal Highway Administrator, both of whom spoke high of Mayor Foxx. As an aside, I believe both will continue to serve in their current capacity. Both are high motivated and focused on the Administration’s priorities with safety at the forefront as always. Let’s hope for a robust authorization at the Federal level. Meanwhile, the funding for transportation facilities and operational investment in many states is encouraging. Major COG’s, MPO’s and special purpose districts are finding ways and means of stimulating transportation projects and programs. Except for the uncertainty of sequestration there would seem to be a basis for hope.
I was pleased to note that orders for new trucks soared in April by an increase in 36.2% and the highest total in 15 months. Often an early indicator of the vitality of the general economy, this continues to be a good sign.
My last comment is on emerging innovative and/or advancing technology. We will highlight this in future newsletters because of the growing attention to ITS and autonomous/driverless vehicles. Google may have “put it on the map” but practically every OEM manufacturer of vehicles is active in the field. Europe and Asia OEM’s may be ahead in some areas but now some states and local/regional governments are beginning to enter the nexus of public-private interest in what could be a transformational trend. What an exciting time to be in transportation and development!
Best wishes for a successful month,