headshot of Ben Colucci-Rios

Benjamín Colucci-Ríos, Ph.D., J.D., P.E., API, F.ITE, Dist.M.ASCE, an academic senator and member of the University Board representing the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, has been honored with inclusion by ASCE in its 2024 class of distinguished members for his passionate service to the civil engineering profession as an educator, researcher, and practitioner; outstanding contributions in highway traffic safety innovations, highway infrastructure management systems, and professional workforce development; and community service at the national and international levels.

Colucci-Ríos is considered a visionary in best practices, innovation, and technology transfer in highway traffic safety initiatives in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He was the spokesperson for the Decade of Action for Road Safety, president of the editorial board of the International Journal of Natural Disasters, Accidents and Civil Infrastructure, and editor of the Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Construction on Federal Highway Projects

A senior-most transportation professional in Latin American and Caribbean countries, he has had a distinguished career as an educator, researcher, administrator, and consultant. In Puerto Rico and surrounding territories he is recognized as a public face in highway transportation engineering and has brought complex policy issues related to highway traffic safety infrastructure investment, economic development, and various local projects to the public’s attention through  radio programs, newspaper columns and TV programs, and serving as a panel member or as an invited expert. His presence empowers listeners and readers to participate and contribute to open debates and public discussions.
He is himself a civil engineering professor in the transportation area, former associate director of the department of civil engineering, and past acting dean of the Faculty of Engineering at UPR Mayagüez. He is a member of the College of Engineers and Surveyors of Puerto Rico, the Civil Engineering Institute, and the Society of Engineers of Puerto Rico, for whom he has served on their Board of Directors and Board of Trustees. He has been recognized as a Distinguished Civil Engineer by the Institute and the College of Engineering and dedicated their annual conference. He has given over 500 technical presentations in over 40 countries and directed a successful bilingual training program and peer exchanges in civil, transportation, and related disciplines in Puerto Rico, USVI, American Samoa, Guam, and Northern Mariana Islands, hosting some 4,000 seminars, webinars, workshops, symposia, and conferences in planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the built highway infrastructure. He was awarded the Abertis Chair-Puerto Rico and for the last decade has served as a member of the International Network of Abertis Chairs.

Colucci-Ríos is a founding member of multiple engineering entities and organizations, such as the Pan-American Institute of Highways, Engineering Projects in Community Service, and the Puerto Rico section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, and has made a significant impact on the civil engineering profession in communities of Hispanics, Latinos, and diverse ethnic groups. He is committed to disseminating knowledge clearly; the importance of his contributions to overcoming the language barrier by bringing technical information to the U.S. Spanish-speaking population cannot be overstated.

He has been a member of ASCE since 1986, and was honored with the Wilbur S. Smith Award in 2021 as well as a Wall of Fame in Region 5 the same year. In 2019 he was a collaborator and editor of the ASCE Report Card on Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure and is currently on the board of directors for the Puerto Rico section. Colucci-Ríos is a fellow of the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the recipient of their 2019 Transportation Educator Award; he is also an elected member of the 2009 Pan-American Academy of Engineering and current Secretary of the Board. He has been active in several Caribbean Regional Congresses with the International Road Federation, serving as a speaker, leading technical scientific program in vision zero, and serving in different committees and with many other organizations.

Colucci-Ríos was recognized in 2018 and 2023 with the FHWA Administrator’s Public Service Award for his outstanding leadership in advancing transportation education, research and workforce development and advancing the Federal-aid highway program in Puerto Rico and USVI.

At UPR Mayagüez he has served for decades as PI or co-PI in transcendental transportation-related research projects as part of many university research centers. He has also been chair or faculty for over 35 master’s and Ph.D. theses and mentored hundreds of students in summer transportation, interdisciplinary workforce initiatives with MIT, UPR Graduate School of Planning and Architecture, etc.