Dear T&DI Members and Friends:
I am honored and privileged to begin my term as your ASCE T&DI President, particularly so at a time when our transportation profession is delicately poised at the cusp of a literal technological revolution that will affect literally every aspect of our travel. Even so, the beauty of our profession is that we can never forget the human in the loop, the convergence of engineering science and social science. Such convergence in activities will be the name of the game in our future landscape, as will be the critical need for intersectoral collaboration among different stakeholders. T&DI has been at the center stage of promoting such interdisciplinary and intersectoral activities that enhance quality of life of all people, and we now have the opportunity to further solidify our role in this space. And you will be shaping that future…so thank you for being a member/friend of ASCE T&DI.
In this coming year, I hope we can focus on three specific priority areas. The first is to increase the participation of under-represented groups in our activities, leadership, and membership. Societal challenges are inherently open-ended and complex, and diversity constitutes the fuel that feeds collaboration, innovation, and a spirit of camaraderie. Diverse teams are better positioned to consider the potential unintended consequences of a specific pathway and bring comprehensive solutions more rapidly for societal benefit. In this regard, as incoming ASCE President Marsia Geldert-Murphey indicated, for the first time, we have more women on the ASCE Board than men, which clearly shows the great strides we have made. However, much work yet is needed to bring a diverse racial representation into our fold. The second is to bring in young membership into ASCE T&DI. In recent years, T&DI has provided valuable experiential learning opportunities to young members through specific events (including young member workshops and activities). In the coming year, we will continue to provide, and work to increase, opportunities for building interdisciplinary skills and communication skills among young professionals to allow them to navigate through the complex societal challenges of today and contribute effectively as leaders in an increasingly global and multidisciplinary work environment of tomorrow. The third is to promote inter-sectoral interactions in ways that contribute to education, workforce development, and technology transfer through directed efforts on collaborative grants and standards development. This must also include reaching out to communities to work with a more “boots on the ground” perspective. It is such joint academic-industry-public agency efforts that hold the key to our profession’s future, furthering research relevant to the needs of society, while also reducing the incubation time from research to practice. With your support, I look forward to pursuing these three priority areas with vigor and dedication.
As I take over as T&DI President, I would be remiss if I did not thank my predecessor, Roger Millar, for his untiring leadership efforts to elevate T&DI efforts, especially through his strong state DOT and community connections. I am pleased that he will continue on the board during my term as President. My heartful thanks also to David Noyce, who has played an important role over his four years on the board in fortifying the T&DI brand within the transportation profession and beyond.
Thank you for your support and interest, and the trust you have placed in me. Together, we will take T&DI to new places.
Chandra Bhat, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
President, Transportation & Development Institute (T&DI)
American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)