ITS America inducted Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle into its Hall of Fame during the group's annual meeting June 4-7 in Detroit, Michigan.
A registered professional engineer, Steudle began his career with MDOT in 1987, rising through the ranks to become state transportation director in 2006, a position he still holds today. He also served as president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials from 2011 to 2012 and has been a member of AASHTO's board since 2006.
Steudle also served as the 2014 chair of the Transportation Research Board executive committee, which he's served upon since 2004. He also chaired the group's Strategic Highway Research Program or "SHRP 2" oversight committee for TRB.
"There are a lot of amazing people in this industry granted this award and I am honored to be elected to join them," Steudle (at right) told the AASHTO Journal. "What is unusual is that I don't have an IT [information technology] background; my background is in construction and road building."
But he explained that a visit to the General Motors providing grounds in Milford, Michigan, 13 years ago, to experience then-experimental vehicle systems such as blind spot detection, automatic emergency braking, and electronic stability control, "opened his eyes" to the vital role new technologies would play in improving transportation safety; technologies he set out to support and adopt where possible.
"Thirteen years ago it was considered 'Buck Rogers' stuff; now it's standard equipment in most cases on most vehicles and its saves a lot of lives," he explained. "Those test track experiences proved to me that technology was advancing really quickly and that we needed to be part of that advancement. This is an exciting time, a time when the convergence of automotive, cellular and computer technology is transforming transportation – transforming the ways people and goods move. It is exciting to be part of it."
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